Luke Chapter 1
1:1-4 – Prologue
1:5-25 – The Annunciation of John
1:26-38 – The Annunciation of Jesus
1:39-45 – The Visitation
1:46-56 – The Canticle of Mary
1:57-66 – The Nativity of John
1:67-80 – The Canticle of Zechariah
Answer as many questions as you can. Write down other questions you might have, or interesting things you learned and read that are not covered in the questions.
Questions for Interpretation
1. Verse 5 – What does the name Zechariah mean? What does the name Elizabeth mean? What is significant about them being from the tribe of Aaron?
Zechariah means Yahweh remembers. Elizabeth means my God is an oath. God has not forgotten his righteous servants. It is significant that they are from the tribe of Aaron because they are of the priestly tribe. Since Mary is their kinswoman, she too is from this priestly tribe.
2. Verses 6-7 – What other important women in the Bible were barren? Barrenness was regarded as punishment for sin according to Jewish people. Why did God allow righteous Zechariah and Elizabeth to be barren?
Sarah – Abraham’s wife, Rebekah – Isaac’s wife, Rachel – Jacob’s wife, Manoah’s wife – Mother of Samson, Ruth – Boaz’s wife, Hannah – Elkanah’s wife, and the Mother of Samuel
Interesting note: Being chosen by lot to enter the sanctuary of the Lord was something that could only happen to you once in your life, if ever. Therefore, it was not mere chance or coincidence that Zechariah was chosen, but Divine Providence.
3. Verses 8-11 – Compare these verses with Revelation 8:3-4.
Zechariah was offering the prayers of the people of God at the altar of incense. Is Gabriel the angel in Revelation who takes up the prayers of the people to the altar in Heaven?
Interesting note: It must be terrifying to see an angel, because the first thing they always tell the people is to not be afraid.
4. Verses 13-15a – What does the name John mean? What is significant about John not drinking wine or strong drink? What other Old Testament figures took this vow?
John means Yahweh is merciful or gracious. God finally granted his two parents a child. He was consecrated from the womb, like Nazirites Samson and Samuel, mentioned above.
5. Verses 15b-17 – Compare these verses to Malachi 3:1a and 3:23-24.
In Malachi, we see mention of a messenger coming before Jesus to prepare the way for Jesus. John the Baptist, will be a great prophet like Elijah, and will be the last prophet in fact.
Interesting note: John the Baptist and Elijah even dressed alike wearing a hairy garment and leather belt. See 2 Kings 1:7-8 and Matthew 3:4. They both had the same mission to of trying to get the people to repent and turn to God.
6. Verses 18-20 – Besides the answer to his prayers, what gift did Gabriel offer to Zechariah, which he was oblivious to? Why did Gabriel make Zechariah mute?
Gabriel told Zechariah his name and that he was sent to share the Good News of the coming Messiah. But Zechariah wanted a better sign than an angel coming down and talking to him, so he was made mute for his disbelief.
Interesting note: The people were amazed at how long he stayed in the sanctuary, because they thought he had offended God, and God struck him dead. Also, we have to assume that Gabriel visited Elizabeth as well and told her of God’s plans. Otherwise, it would have been an interesting note Zechariah wrote to Elizabeth telling her why he can’t talk and that they are to have a son.
7. Verse 26 – What is the six month referring to?
The sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy.
8. Verse 27 – What is significant about Joseph being from the house of David?
It means that Jesus is born into a kingly line.
9. Verses 26-38 – How is Mary’s questioning of Gabriel different than Zechariah’s? Compare and contrast the two annunciations. (Luke 1:11-20 and Luke 1:26-38)
9Mary’s questioning is more innocent and wonder than doubt and skepticism. Comparison of two annunciations
• Gabriel appears
• Parent shows worry and concern at sight of angel
• Angel’s command to not be afraid
• Message of a future birth of a son
• Name of Child
• Child’s purpose/mission
o John – Turn children of Israel to God
o Jesus – Establish kingdom of which there will be no end
• Role of the Holy Spirit
o John – Filled with Holy Spirit in mother’s womb
o Jesus – Holy Spirit will come upon Mary and God will overshadow her
10. Verse 41 – How was John able to identify that Mary was filled with the Messiah?
He was filled with the Holy Spirit from his conception.
11. Verses 42-45 – Compare these verses to 2 Samuel 6:9-11, 14-16. What item pre-figures Mary in this passage? Why is this significant?
Ark of the Covenant. The Holy Spirit overshadowed both. David and John the Baptist both leapt in front of the Ark of the Covenant. They both were the dwelling place of God.
Interesting note: The old Ark of the Covenant contained the 10 Commandments (the word of God inscribed in stone), Aaron’s rod, and manna. The new Ark of the Covenant contained Jesus who is the Word of God in flesh, the true High Priest, and the Bread of Life. No one knows what happened to the Ark of the Covenant after Babylon destroyed Jerusalem and the First Temple. However, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church claims to possess it. That is why you will find a replica of the original ark in every Ethiopian Orthodox Church.
12. Verses 46-56 – Mary’s gives God praise for three things. What are they? Read 1 Samuel 2:1-10, and see how Hannah’s song is similar to Mary’s.
She gives God praise for what he has done personally for her, for his mercy toward the poor, and for his faithfulness to the people of Israel. Mary’s canticle is very similar to Hannah’s prayer and shows that she is a good Jewish girl who knows her Scripture.
13. Verse 59 – According to Jewish numerology, the number 8 symbolizes salvation and new beginnings. What does the number 8 mean to Catholics? (See Catechism 2174.)
CCC 2174 states. “Jesus rose from the dead “on the first day of the week.” Because it is the “first day,” the day of Christ’s Resurrection recalls the first creation. Because it is the “eighth day” following the Sabbath, it symbolizes the new creation ushered in by Christ’s Resurrection.” Significant 8s in the Bible are 8 people on Noah’s ark when the world was re-born after the Great Flood. David was the 8th son of Jesse. Abijah mentioned earlier was also of the 8th priestly division.
14. Verses 60-64 –Why was Zechariah’s voice restored?
Zechariah’s voice was restored, because he listened to Gabriel and God and called his son John.
Interesting note: Why didn’t Elizabeth just tell the people that God said to call him John or that Zechariah said to call him such? Why were they amazed that Zechariah also wanted to call his son John?
15. Verses 68-79 – What images stand out to you as significant in Zechariah’s canticle?
Horn of salvation: Horns were considered a sign of power.
Covenant: God has a long line of covenants with the people of Israel, which they have never been faithful in keeping. God is establishing His final covenant with Israel through His Son Jesus, which the people ultimately reject.
Salvation from enemies: Jesus is coming to provide ultimate salvation from Satan, not just worldly enemies like the Romans.
16. Verse 80 – Read Isaiah 40:3. Why do you think John went to go live in the desert until his ministry?
Fulfills the Old Testament prophecy in Isaiah of a voice crying out in the desert to “Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God!”
Interesting note: John the Baptist would have also been one of the male children Herod ordered to be killed (the Holy Innocents). According to tradition, Elizabeth and John fled to the desert and a mountain opened revealing a cave to hide them in. Herod’s soldiers came to Zechariah looking for John, but he refused to give up their location, so they killed him at the Temple altar (Luke 11:51). Elizabeth died while John was still a child, and it was said that an angel ministered to him until the time of his ministry.
Questions for Reflection
1. Verses 11-13 – Have I ever had prayer answered after I had given up hope and stopped praying?
2. Verses 14-15 – When did God select me for his service? How have I been equipped to carry out my service?
3. Verse 29 – How have I reacted when I have experienced God’s special favor or call? How did it change the way I think of myself?
4. Verse 35 – What does it mean to me that Jesus is the Son of God?
5. Verses 36-37 – When or how do I place limits on what God can do? Or what God can do for me?
6. Verse 45 – How eager am I to embrace the word of God? How is Mary a model for me?
7. Verses 46-55 – How can Mary’s prayer serve as a model for my prayers?
8. Verses 70-72 – How have I experienced God’s mercy and love?
Stuart Dunn was born and raised in Mobile, AL and received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Master of Business Administration from the University of South Alabama. Stuart primarily does accounting and logistics at the Port of Mobile. He met his wife, Mary Katherine, in 2004 but didn’t start dating her until 2010. They were married in 2011 and welcomed their first child into the world in 2013. Stuart is a top 1000 Amazon reviewer and reviews all things Catholic including adult books, children’s books, Bible Study series, Catholic Courses, CDs, and DVDs at his blog Stuart’s Study at http://stuartsstudy.blogspot.com
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