The book of Luke tells us what Jesus Christ did and what he taught his disciples.
Luke tells us that God's Spirit is very powerful. And he tells us about Jesus teaching his disciples to pray. Luke also tells us about Jesus forgiving people and being kind to women and that many women helped him.
My name is Luke, and today I am writing this letter to you, Theophilus. You know that many people have already written a report about the things Jesus did while he was here with us. But they didn't see Jesus with their own eyes. Many other people saw Jesus from when he started until he finished the work God gave him to do. And they told those people so that they could write down what they had heard, and they told us too about everything they had seen.
So, Master, I have learnt the things Jesus did from when he started until he went back to his Father. I learnt very carefully so I wouldn't forget. Then I decided to write things down too so that I can send my own report to you. I want to tell you everything from the beginning to the end, so that you don't miss anything and you can easily understand what happened. And also I want to tell you so you will know that what other people have already taught you is true.
About Gabriel speaking to Zechariah
Years ago, while Herod was king of Judea, there were many priests. They were all in groups named after the priests of long ago. Some were from Abijah's family, and there was one man called Zechariah who belonged to that group. His wife was Elizabeth, and her father was also a priest.
Zechariah and Elizabeth were both good people. They obeyed all the laws of the Lord God, and God could see that they were good. They went on obeying God all the time. And now they were both old. They had no children. They wanted them, but Elizabeth couldn't have any.
8-9 One day Zechariah was working in the temple. All the priests worked there but they took turns. First some of them worked and then others, and now the men from Abijah's family took their turn to work there. They had different kinds of work to do. Every day one of them burnt something like gum so that sweet-smelling smoke would rise from it as it burnt. He did this because long ago God had told the priests to do it for him. When they chose the man for that job, first of all they wrote all their names down on paper in any order. Then they took turns according to the list. And now it was Zechariah's turn and he burnt the gum in the building that only the priests went into and no one else.
10 While Zechariah was burning the gum he was alone inside the building. The people who had come to the temple stood outside praying to God. 11 And while he was there alone, an angel of the Lord God came and appeared to him. Zechariah saw the angel standing on the right-hand side of the altar on which he was burning the gum. 12 He got a fright and was very afraid.
13 The angel said to him, “Don't be afraid, Zechariah. You have prayed to God and he has heard you. Later on your wife will have a son and you will call him John. 14 And you will be very happy because God has given you a son. Many other people will also be happy when he is born.”
15 Then he said, “Your son will be very important. The Lord God will say, ‘He is a great man.’ When he grows up he mustn't drink wine or strong drink that makes people drunk. The Holy Spirit will fill him and control him. It will control him when he is born and it will stay with him all the time.
16 “He will teach people about the Lord their God. And when they hear him many of the people of Israel will stop doing wrong and do what is right. They will obey the Lord their God, just as their ancestors did long ago.
17 “Yes,” the angel said to Zechariah, “your son will go ahead of the Lord and he will be very strong. God's Spirit that made Elijah strong long ago will make your son strong too. And when they hear him, fathers will love and care for their children again. And people who haven't obeyed God will change and start thinking straight. Then they will obey God in the same way as other people who think straight obey him. Many people will be waiting to see what the Lord God will do. And they will listen to him because they listened first to your son.”
18 Zechariah asked the angel, “How will I know this is true? I am an old man now and my wife is old too. How can this happen to us?”
19 The angel answered, “I am Gabriel. I am God's helper and I stand near him all the time. He has sent me to you to tell you this good news. 20 But because you haven't believed me you won't be able to speak until your son is born. You don't believe me, but what I am telling you today will happen. Your wife really will have a son.”
21 While Zechariah was still inside the building the people were waiting for him outside. They kept on waiting and waiting and said to themselves, “What is stopping him from coming out? He has been inside for a long time.” 22 Then at last Zechariah came out, but he couldn't speak. He just moved his hands and the people said to themselves, “Maybe he has seen God in a vision.”
23 After a while the old man finished his work in the temple and he left Jerusalem and went home and stayed there.
24 Five months went by and his wife Elizabeth kept away from people and hid herself in the house. Then she knew that she was pregnant, 25 and she said, “The Lord God has been kind to me, because I used to be ashamed of having no children. But I am not ashamed any more.”
About Gabriel speaking to Mary
26 After another month the same angel called Gabriel went to Nazareth, a town in Galilee. 27 God sent him to a young girl called Mary. She was promised to a man called Joseph, but they hadn't been married yet. Joseph was a descendant of King David.
28 Gabriel said to Mary, “The Lord God is very pleased with you. He is with you.”
29 Mary was upset by his words and she said to herself, “What does it mean? Why has he told me that?”
30 Gabriel said to her, “Don't be afraid, because God is pleased with you. 31 You will become pregnant and have a son and you will call him Jesus. 32 When he grows up he will be a great king. And people will say, ‘He is the Son of God, the one who is the greatest God.’ The Lord God will make him a king and he will rule just as his ancestor King David ruled long ago. 33 He will rule over the descendants of Jacob forever.”
34 Mary said, “I have never slept with a man, so how can I have a son?”
35 Gabriel answered, “God's powerful Spirit will come and touch you and then you will be carrying a baby. Because of that, people will say, ‘This holy child is the Son of God.’
36 “Look, your relative Elizabeth is also having a baby, even though she is an old woman. She hasn't been able to have children all these years, but now she has been pregnant for six months. 37 When God decides to do something he will do it.”
38 Mary said to him, “I have heard your message, and I am a servant of the Lord God, so I won't refuse.” Then the angel left her.
About Mary visiting Elizabeth
39-40 Mary wanted to go straight away to visit Elizabeth. So she left Nazareth and travelled south. She went up to the hill country of Judea and kept on going up until she found the place where Zechariah lived. When she arrived at his house she went in and she and Elizabeth talked together inside the house. Mary said to Elizabeth, “Are you well? May God be with you.”
41 When Elizabeth heard Mary's words, her baby moved inside her. And at the same time the Holy Spirit filled her and controlled her.
42 Then she spoke in a loud voice because she was so happy, and said to Mary, “God is pleased with you and he has chosen you. So now you are the most important woman of all. And God will be pleased with the child too. 43 You are the mother of my Lord, but you have come here to me today.
44 “When I heard you, my child jumped for joy inside me. 45 Good things will happen to you because you knew God's word was true and you trust him, because everything the Lord God has told you will surely happen.”
About the song that God gave Mary
46 Then Mary said,
“I am praising the Lord God all the time.
47 He is the one who is saving me and I am rejoicing.
48 Even though I am so unimportant, he has looked after me.
I am only his servant.
From today everyone will say, ‘The Lord God has blessed her.’
49 They will say that about me because God is very powerful and he has done great things for me.
He is mighty and his name is holy.
50 God has had pity on our people from long ago until today.
And he will have pity on our children and on their children too.
He will have pity on all of us who obey him.
51 But he has stretched out his strong arm
and chased away those who were proud and only thought about themselves.
52 He has got rid of proud kings,
and made ordinary people rulers.
53 God has given food to hungry people,
and sent rich people away with empty hands.
54 Long ago God told our ancestors that he would help them, and that he would look after us today.
He hasn't forgotten his promise,
and he has come here today to help us his people.
55 He remembered his promise of long ago and had pity on Abraham.
And today he has pity on us too,
and he will have pity on our children and on our descendants.
God will go on doing that forever.”
56 Mary stayed with Elizabeth for three months, and then she went back home to Nazareth.
About John the Baptist being born
57 The day came for Elizabeth to have her baby, and she gave birth to a son. She was very happy. 58 Her family, her relatives and others who lived near her, heard about her. They knew that the Lord God had been kind to her, and they too were happy.
59 When the baby was eight days old they circumcised him. Some people there wanted to call him Zechariah, the same name as his father. 60 But his mother didn't want them to. “No,” she said. “His name is John.”
61 But they said, “You haven't any relatives called John.” 62 They looked at Zechariah, making signs with their hands, wanting him to say the name.
63 Zechariah made signs to ask for writing things. They gave them to him and he wrote, “His name is John.”
“Oh!” they all said. 64 Straight away, as Zechariah was writing the name, he was able to speak and he praised God.
65 The people there were very frightened, and others who lived near Zechariah's place were afraid too. And they told other people all around there the news about what had happened until everyone in the hill country of Judea had heard the story. 66 They didn't forget, they kept thinking about it. They said, “When this child grows up, what sort of person will he be?” They knew that the Lord God was really looking after the child.
About the message that God gave to Zechariah
67 God's Holy Spirit filled and controlled John's father Zechariah, and he spoke God's message.
68 “Let us praise the Lord, the God of the people of Israel,
because he has come among us now.
He has helped us his people and set us free.
69 He has given us a powerful King,
a descendant of David,
and he will save us.
70 Long, long ago God gave his people a promise,
and his prophets kept it for us.
71 God told our ancestors that he would save us,
and set us free from those who hate us and keep making trouble for us.
72 God told our ancestors that he would have pity on them and also on us today.
And he told them that he would always remember his covenant.
73 God spoke strong words to our ancestor Abraham.
74 He told him that he would set us free from those who hate us,
so that we wouldn't be afraid, but work for God,
75 and so that we would be his people,
walking straight in his way all the time.”
76 Then Zechariah spoke to the little child John.
“People will call you God's prophet,
because you will tell them God's message.
He is the greatest God.
And when you grow up you will go ahead,
so that you can make the Lord's road ready for him.
77 You will tell people that God will save them
because he will forgive their sins.
78-79 Today we are in the dark and afraid of death.
But our God is very kind and he has pity on us.
Just like when the dawn comes, God will light up the world.
And he will send here the one he promised to send, the one who will be the light of the world for us and who will save us.
At that time it will be just like daylight.
When we walk in the daytime we can see the road to walk on.
And the Lord will teach us to go on God's good road.
He will teach us so that we can be happy and live in peace.”
80 The child John grew up and learnt about God and obeyed him. He lived in the desert. And then at last he came out and showed himself to the people of Israel. And his people saw him.