God the Father had promised and prophesied many times in
different ages under the Old Testament period that one day He
would send a Messiah Savior to earth to not only live a holy
sinless life, to show people the perfect ways of the Lord, but
also to die for the sins of every person who has ever lived. This
Savior would have to be more than just a human person as you and
I are, in order to be able to take upon Himself the sins
of every person. He would also have to be a part of God.
It was during the sixth month of Elizabeth carrying the baby
John that God the Father would start to fulfil those many Old
Testament prophecies concerning the one to come who would be a
part of Himself, would be His very own Son, yet born of a
physical woman, and in that way this Messiah would be both of the
human family and the God family. It would all come about in such
a manner that it would be a miracle never done before nor again
The angelic messenger Gabriel was sent to a town in the
district of Galilee in Palestine, called Nazareth. He was to go
to the cousin of Elizabeth, to a young lady called Mary, who was
to be married to a man named Joseph. She had never been married,
and had never slept with a man, so she was what we call a virgin.
Gabriel came to her and said, "Hello Mary. You are highly
favored, and the Lord God is with you. You are very blessed among
When Mary saw the angel Gabriel she was troubled and
perplexed. She wondered in her mind what these words from Gabriel
meant. The angel could see that she was troubled by the words he
spoke and went on to explain to her why God had favored her
and what the blessing would be that she would receive.
"Fear not and be not upset Mary, for you have truly found
favor with God. You shall become pregnant, have a baby growing
inside of you, in your womb. The baby shall be a male child, and
you shall call him Jesus (meaning Savior, someone who saves
others). He shall be great, and shall also be called the Son of
the Most High. The Lord God shall give unto Him one day the
throne of the ancient king David, whom you are descended from,
and shall reign over the people of Jacob for ever. And of His
Kingdom there shall never be an end."
We have seen from the Bible Story of the Old Testament that
Jacob was the father of 12 sons who became, through their
descendants, the 12 tribes of Israel. David was later the second
and most famous king of Israel. God had promised to him that his
throne, his line of children, would always exist. And the most
famous and by far the greatest of his line of children would be
this promised Messiah Savior, whom today most of the world knows
as Jesus Christ. To this Jesus, God the Father had also promised
Him the throne of king David and a Kingdom that would never end.
There are many prophecies in the Old Testament that confirm these
two important promises to be given to Jesus one day. Those two
promises were never realized or fulfilled in the physical life
time of Jesus, but they still stand, yet to be given to Him
sometime in the future.
Mary was now even more puzzled at all these words from
Gabriel, telling him that she could not understand how this could
come about, becoming pregnant with a child, for she was not
married and had never slept with any man.
Gabriel answered her, and explained more, "The Holy Spirit,
the very nature and power of God shall come upon you, work a
miracle in your body, and you shall become pregnant with a holy
child. This child shall not be from a physical man but a child
from God, so He shall be called the Son of God."
The angel wanted Mary to know that for God there was nothing
He could not do, and so went on to say, "Your cousin Elizabeth is
very old, passed the years of normally being able to have a
child, yet she is also pregnant with a baby, and this is the
sixth month of her pregnancy. So you see, with God there is
nothing that is impossible for Him to do."
Mary being a godly and faithful woman, now had trust and
assurance in her heart that what Gabriel had told her would
indeed come to pass, and be fulfilled just as God had said. She
was happy and delighted to be the one whom the Lord God had
chosen to bear His Son. She told the angel this and Gabriel then
departed from her (Luke 1:26-38).
What a blessing indeed this was for Mary. I'm sure she must
have been stunned and speechless for a few days, as she meditated
and thought about these words from the angel Gabriel. God the
Father would need a woman of outstanding service, loyalty,
and spiritual dedication, to be the mother of His Son. Someone
who would care and protect and guide His son in every physical
and spiritual way. What an honor indeed to be the woman chosen by
God to undertake this service and duty.
The honor is even more when we consider the very possible
age of Mary when she would become the mother of the Son of the
Most High. The Jewish society back then was much different than
most of our nations of the western world today. It was the
general practice and custom of the Jews in those days to marry
very young. In fact it was looked upon as a family disgrace if
the son was not married by age eighteen. And the young girls, or
ladies of the family were often only in their middle teenage
years when they married. So it is very probable that Mary was not
yet out of her teens when Gabriel came to her with the wonderful
news that she was the woman chosen by God to bear His son Jesus.
Mary must have truly been a wonderfully serious and
dedicated woman in the ways of the Lord, living and loving Him
with all of her heart, all of her life, and all of her mind.
MARY GOES TO VISIT ELIZABETH
After the wonderment of all this had finally sunk into the
mind of Mary, she was all excited and quickly wanted to visit
Elizabeth her cousin. With speed she headed for the hill country
of Judea and entered the home of Zacharias and Elizabeth.
As Mary entered the home and called out the usual greetings
of those times and culture of Jewish society, the baby John in
Elizabeth's womb leaped for joy and Elizabeth was filled even
more with the Holy Spirit, being inspired to know that Mary was
carrying in her womb the very Lord Messiah. With a loud and
electrifying voice Elizabeth exclaimed, "Blessed are you among
women Mary, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. What an honor
to have the mother of my Lord come to visit me, for as soon as
your voice was heard in this house, greeting us, the babe in my
womb leaped for joy. And what a blessing that you believed what
was told you from the Lord God."
In passing we can note here that the reaction of baby John
in Elizabeth's womb, to the entering of Mary into the house, and
the baby Jesus in her womb, shows that babies not yet born but
still inside the mother's stomach, are little persons, who can
have feelings and reactions of their own, independent from the
mother. They are small living persons not just a kind of
nothingness mass of bones, blood, and skin, that people can
kill and tear out of their body at the pleasure of their own
heart and mind, as if it is a bothersome sore or pimple to get
Mary was also inspired by all this, and burst out in praise
to God with these words, "My life does praise the Lord, and my
mind does rejoice in God my Savior. For he has looked down upon
His handmaid, and all generations will know I am blessed. He that
is mighty has done great things in my life and body. He is truly
Holy, and His mercy and love is indeed upon them that
respectfully fear Him, from generation to generation. He
can put down those who are proud and mighty in their own eyes,
and exalt and set on high those of humble attitude of mind.
Those who are hungry for good righteous things He fills, and
those who think they are rich in knowledge He gives none of His
truths to. He has been faithful with the promises He gave to
Israel, and remembers His mercy that He said He would give to our
fathers, to Abraham, and to his descendants forever."
Here we see some of the mindset attitude of this young lady
Mary. An attitude of humbleness and a willingness to be filled
with the true ways, the good ways of the Lord God. She was even
as a young woman, a fine example of what a servant and child of
God should be.
And Mary stayed in the home of Elizabeth for about three
months and then returned to her own household (Luke 1:39-56).
THE BIRTH AND CHILDHOOD OF JOHN
At last the nine month period of pregnancy for Elizabeth had
come to an end and it was time to bring forth her boy into the
world for all to see. All went well in her delivery and many of
her neighbors and cousins rejoiced with her, knowing that God had
performed great mercy towards her in her old age by giving her
and Zacharias a son.
As was the law of God the parents came on the eighth day to
circumcise the child. And as was also the common custom of the
day, the child was going to be given the name of his father. He
was going to be called Zacharias. But his mother protested and
said, "No, he is not to be called Zacharias, but he is to be
The people around were taken a back by this, for there was
not one in the immediate descent of the family that was called by
the name of John, and calling a child by a name that none in the
family was called was just not done in those days. The people
looked at Zacharias, making signs to him with their hands, for as
yet Zacharias could still not speak. They wanted to know what he
had to say on this matter of the naming of the
Zacharias asked for a writing tablet which was brought to
him. He wrote, "His name shall be called John." Everyone just
marvelled at this whole thing. It was not the way it was usually
As soon as Zacharias wrote those words God performed another
miracle, as He immediately gave him his voice back, which he
used right away to praise God.
You can imagine the scene. Many were there who were there
when Zacharias came out of the Temple about nine months earlier
not able to speak, and now when Zacharias officially named the
baby with the name of John (according as Gabriel the angel had
said he was to be named nine months earlier), his voice was
restored to him and he could speak once again. A fear of God came
upon all that stood there, and what had taken place was told to
others all over the hill country of Judea.
People that heard all this began to wonder and think about
what this child John would do in his life time. They knew
something special was to become of this child.
Indeed it was to be so, and the hand of the Lord was with
John, for the Lord did have a special work for him to perform
later in his life.
God inspired Zacharias at that time to speak forth that
which was the overall teaching and promises of the Lord by the
holy prophets from the Old Testament.
" Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, for He has come to
visit and to redeem His people, and has raised up salvation for
us in the house of His servant David, as was spoken by His holy
prophets from old time. That we should be saved from our enemies,
and from those who hate us, to perform the mercy promised to us
from the time of our ancient fathers, to remember His covenant
and the oath which He swore to our father Abraham. To grant us
deliverance from our enemies, so we could serve Him without fear.
To serve Him in holiness and righteousness all the days of our
As we read these words spoken by Zacharias we could be
puzzled by them somewhat. For, even today, two thousand years
later, the Jews are not delivered from their enemies and from
those who hate them. Over in the land of Palestine there is still
much trouble, fighting, killing, and hate going on between the
Jews, the Arabs, and the Palestinians.
Yes, God had given a promise, a covenant, and swore by an
oath to people like Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (the great fathers
of the Jews and people of Israel) that one day the children of
Israel would be fully and completely delivered from their enemies
to serve God in holiness and righteousness, without any fear of
being persecuted or killed. Many of the prophets of the Old
Testament have so written also. God will in His time bring all
those promised to pass. The ancient prophets show that the
literal fulfillment of those promises and of what Zacharias was
saying, will not take place until Jesus the Messiah comes again
in power and glory to set up the Kingdom of God on earth. Then
the people of Israel will be delivered from the fear of hate and
killing that often comes from their enemies.
So how are we then to understand these words of Zacharias in
the context of the birth of this man-child John?
We are to understand them in a "spiritual" sense, that the
time had come for God to work a wonderful work of salvation in
many of the lives of the Jews and people of Israel. Many were to
be delivered from all the mental and emotional sorrow of the
mind, from the inner fear of the heart. They would find
deliverance from sin and guilt, so they could live with peace in
their mind, to serve God in holiness and righteousness.
This understanding is clearly what Zacharias wanted to
convey to the people there at that time and to us today, as we
read the remaining words that he spoke.
" And you child (referring to John) shall be known as the
prophet of the Most High; for you shall go before the Lord (Jesus
the Messiah) to prepare His ways. To give the knowledge of
salvation to His people, the forgiveness of their sins, through
the loving mercies of our God. When the day them comes from on
high to give light to those who are in darkness and in the shadow
of death. To then guide our feet into the way of peace."
Ah yes, the wonderful promised time had arrived when God the
Father was about to fulfil the sending of His Son to earth to
take upon Himself the sins of the whole world, so His mercy could
be given to all those who would be called to receive it. So many
in Israel and in all other nations could find the forgiveness of
their sins, and be guided into the way of salvation and peace of
heart and mind.
In this plan of God, it had been decreed that a human man
would go before the coming of the Messiah Savior, to preach
repentance and forgiveness of sins to all who would listen. To
prepare the hearts of some for the coming of the Son of God, and
the true spiritual deliverance He would bring. This prophet of
the Lord God to go before the Messiah Jesus, was to be this child
And so it came about as we have just read. And this child
John grew and became strong in his mind for the truths and the
ways of the Almighty God. And he lived most of his life in the
outdoors and the wilderness, until the day came to go forth to
preach and teach the word of God to the people.
Chapters one and two written November 2000