Comparison of Birth Announcements of John and Jesus in Luke 1
Prepared by: Pete VanderBeek
Questions to get you thinking about the patterns in this passage.
1. Read the two “Foretelling of birth” passages (Luke 1:5-25 and 1:26-38) all the way through, looking for things that are the same and things that are different about the two accounts the way Luke tells them.
2. Answer the following questions, making note of what is the same or different. The questions are colour coded to correspond with the relevant part of the passage.
WHEN: What time period are both stories happening in?
WHO: Who receives the message in each case?
Who delivers the message in each case?
Who names the coming children?
WHAT: What kind of people were the receivers of the message in each case?
What do we learn about their heritage and life situations?
How might that be relevant or significant?
What phrase does the angel repeat for both when he sees their reaction?
What reason does the messenger give for coming to each of these two?
WHERE: Where were they when they received their messages?
HOW: How do Zechariah and Mary at first respond to seeing and/or hearing the angel?
What is the difference between Zechariah and Mary’s responses to the Angel?
Why did Zechariah have a ‘consequence’ and not Mary?
What generally is the same about sections 14-17 and 32-33?
Name everything you can think of that is either different or the same about Elizabeth and Mary.
What will the birth of a child do for the social status of Elizabeth?
What do you think the birth of a child would do for Mary’s social status in her time?
Note: On the following page the text in the compared passages that addresses the question has been made to look like the text in the question it is related to.
Luke 1:5-25 (NRSV)
Luke 1:26-38 (NRSV)
In the days of King Herod of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly order of Abijah. His wife was a descendant of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. 6 Both of them were righteous before God, living blamelessly according to all the commandments and regulations of the Lord. 7 But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were getting on in years.
8 Once when he was serving as priest before God and his section was on duty, 9 he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and offer incense. 10 Now at the time of the incense offering, the whole assembly of the people was praying outside.
11 Then there appeared to him an angel of the Lord, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was terrified; and fear overwhelmed him. 13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John. 14 You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He must never drink wine or strong drink; even before his birth he will be filled with the Holy Spirit. 16 He will turn many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 With the spirit and power of Elijah he will go before him, to turn the hearts of parents to their children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
18 Zechariah said to the angel, “How will I know that this is so? For I am an old man, and my wife is getting on in years.”
19 The angel replied, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news.
20 But now, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time, you will become mute, unable to speak, until the day these things occur.” 21 Meanwhile the people were waiting for Zechariah, and wondered at his delay in the sanctuary. 22 When he did come out, he could not speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision in the sanctuary. He kept motioning to them and remained unable to speak. 23 When his time of service was ended, he went to his home.
24 After those days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she remained in seclusion.
She said, 25 “This is what the Lord has done for me when he looked favorably on me and took away the disgrace I have endured among my people.”
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.
28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” 29 But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30 The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus.
32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. 33 He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
34 Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?”
35 The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God.
36 And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.”
38 Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.