“Blessed Art Thou among Women,” by Walter Rane
As the birth of Jesus Christ approached, angelic messengers visited several people, including Zacharias, Mary, and Joseph. In all three cases, the message included the words, “Fear not.” (See Luke 1:13, Luke 1:30, Matthew 1:20.) Zacharias’s wife Elizabeth, who was Mary’s cousin, also received a confirmation by the Holy Ghost that Mary’s baby was her Lord. (See Luke 1:41-43.) On the American continent, too, angels appeared to people and declared the glad tidings of the Savior’s forthcoming birth. (See Helaman 16:14.)
The first chapter of the gospels of Matthew and Luke relate the events leading up to the birth of Jesus. Here are the events we will study this week:
- Gabriel visits Zacharias (Luke 1:2-25)
- Gabriel visits Mary (Luke 1:26-38)
- Mary stays with Elizabeth for three months (Luke 1:39-56)
- John the Baptist is born (Luke 1:57-80)
- An angel visits Joseph (Matthew 1:18-25)
Additionally, Matthew 1:1-17 lays out the genealogy of Joseph, as does Luke 3:23-38. While there are some discrepancies between the two genealogies, both affirm that Joseph was a descendant of King David, and therefore of Ruth.
Here are some insights that I have gained from these chapters:
“The spirit and power of Elias”
The angel Gabriel told Zacharias that his son, John the Baptist, would be a fulfillment of Malachi’s prophecy:
He shall go before [the Savior] in the spirit and power of Elias [Elijah], to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.Luke 1:17; see Malachi 4:5-6
It’s easier to understand how the sealing power held by Elijah relates to the mission of John the Baptist when we realize that stronger family relationships prepare us to receive the Lord. God loves all of His children, and we grow closer to Him as we deepen our relationships with family members on both sides of the veil. Here is a blog post on that topic:
“A precious and chosen vessel”
Nephi saw in a vision “a virgin, most beautiful and fair above all other virgins,” and an angel explained to him that this virgin would be “the mother of the Son of God, after the manner of the flesh” (1 Nephi 11:14-18). An angel later revealed to King Benjamin that her name would be Mary (Mosiah 3:8). The prophet Alma described her as “a precious and chosen vessel, who shall be overshadowed and conceive by the power of the Holy Ghost, and bring forth a son, yea, even the Son of God” (Alma 7:10).
When the angel appeared to Mary, she was frightened and confused. But when she understood her mission, she responded with humility and faith: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word” (Luke 1:38). After Jesus was born, when a group of shepherds unexpectedly visited the stable to worship Him, “Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19). She was both obedient and thoughtful.
Here is a blog post about this remarkable woman:
“With us is God”
Jesus Christ has many names, two of which are highlighted in these chapters. Both Mary and Joseph were instructed to name Him Jesus, and the angel who appeared to Joseph explained why: “For he shall save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21, Luke 1:31). Jesus is a transliteration of the word Iésous (Ἰησοῦς), which is the Greek form of the name Joshua or Yehoshua (יְהוֹשׁוּעַ). Yehoshua means “the Lord is salvation.”
Matthew also saw in the Savior’s birth a fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy: “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14). The name Immanuel (עִמָּנוּאֵל) means literally “with us is God.”
Here are two blog posts about these names of Christ:
Blog Posts January 2-8
The first chapter of Luke contains two psalms of praise, one offered by Mary (Luke 1:46-55) and the other by Zacharias (Luke 1:68-79). Mary’s psalm is commonly known as the Magnificat, which is the first word in the Latin version of the text. Mary opens her psalm by proclaiming that her soul “magnifies” the Lord.…
To Give Light
Eight days after John the Baptist was born, his parents brought him to be circumcised. At that time, they named him, and his father Zacharias gave him a blessing, known commonly as the Benedictus. (See Bible Dictionary: “Hymns,” “Zacharias.”) The first part of that blessing speaks of the mission of Jesus Christ as a fulfillment…
Genealogy of Jesus
None of us is an island, and the impact of our lives is not limited to people currently living. We operate in a multigenerational space, and our decisions affect “generations gone before” and “generations yet to be.” (See “Turn Your Hearts,” Hymns, 291.) An awareness of that reality can help us feel connected and can…
From Their Sins
What does it mean to be saved by Jesus Christ? Is it like receiving a presidential pardon, with the consequences of our actions eliminated by a legal authority? Or like amnesty, where we get a clean slate and a chance to start over? Both of these descriptions tell part of the story. But Jesus doesn’t…
The author of Psalm 46 wants us to know that God is not a distant and detached monarch. He is very much involved in our lives, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” We may be surrounded by turmoil. “The waters” may “roar and be troubled,” and “the mountains” may “shake,” but the author…
Nothing Shall Be Impossible
People who have faith have a healthy dose of skepticism when they are told that something can’t be done. My son and I spent the morning yesterday moving furniture donated to Catholic Charities on behalf of refugees. We picked up the furniture at people’s homes, loaded it onto a moving truck, and then unloaded it…
Quite insightful in understanding the premise and purpose of Matthew and Luke chapter 1. I had not realized how rich these two chapters are with spiritual insight and application to our own personal lives.
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