Luke 1

1 Luke was a Gentile physician that had learned about Jesus from the apostle Paul. He had accompanied Paul on missionary journeys and met many of those who had seen Jesus during His earthly ministry. It had been 20-30 years since Jesus' resurrection, and it was likely that these witnesses were becoming old and would likely die soon. Rather than let their witness die with them, Luke undertakes writing this book with the idea of preserving as much accurate information as possible about Jesus. Luke admits that others had, or were in the process, of other works like this, and he wanted to make his own contribution by presenting a thoroughly investigated work that others could trust as accurate.
3 No other information about Theophilus is given in Scripture. The name means "lover of God," and it is possible that Theophilus is not a specific individual, but might be anyone who loves God.
5 1 Chr 24:3-19 explains how the tribe of Levi was divided up into ministering families. Each of the 24 divisions served in the Temple for one month. Elizabeth was from the line of high priests.
6 While it was not true for all the priests, righteousness was a hallmark of this family.
7 Sadly, they had no children. In Jewish tradition, children were considered a reward from God, and not having children was considered punishment from God. The irony, of course, is that the people would hold such an attitude about a couple with an otherwise good reputation. Since the couple was old, it seemed unlikely that they would ever be vindicated in the eyes of the people.
9 Originally, the burning of incense was reserved for the descendents of Aaron (Exo 30:7-8), but during the rule of David these duties were delegated among others in the tribe of Levi (2 Chr 29:11). Within the current division, lots were drawn to choose who would actually burn the incense.
10 The priest would enter the inner part of the Temple alone.
13 In some respects, this passage is very similar to that concerning Samson's birth (Judg 13:3-5).
17 In Mat 17:10-13 we see the significance of this passage. John was the "second Elijah" as was predicted in Mal 4:5.
18 Zechariah apparently dismisses Gabriel's prediction because of lack of faith. His question was very similar to Abraham's in Gen 17:17. However, it appears that Abraham believed it could happen while Zechariah did not.
27 The engagement was a period between the pledge of marriage and the actual marriage. It was expected that the couple would abstain from intercourse before the actual marriage, and thus Mary was a virgin.
28 The Jews of the day were eagerly expecting the Messiah to appear. It would have indeed been an honor to be the mother of the Messiah.
29 It is not said that Gabriel appeared in dazzling spender as is recorded in other angelic appearances. Nonetheless, Mary was surprised and concerned about his words.
30 Gabriel told her that this was not a moment to be afraid, because she had been chosen for a special place in history.
31 "Joshua" is the English translation of a Hebrew name meaning, "Jehovah is salvation." "Jesus" is the English translation of the Greek form of that same name.
32 As is predicted in Isa 7:14, Jesus would be "God with us."

David's throne had not been occupied since the time of the Exile into Babylon. God would now restore the throne. Jesus would be the last Davidic king and would reign forever (Psa 89:35-37).

34 This is confirmation that Mary knew she was a virgin and understood that what was about to happen to her would not be a normal conception.

Mary's question was not a question of doubt, as Zechariah's was in Luke 1:18. She believed it could happen but she wanted to know more about the process.

35 Some pagan myths tell of gods having offspring with people through intercourse. God, however, did not do that with Mary. Instead, He used His creative power to make Jesus' body inside her womb without having physical contact with her. In this way, Mary would have a child while remaining a virgin.

Genetically, Jesus' DNA would have been different from Mary. God may have used some or none of Mary's DNA in making Jesus' body. In the very least, God would have created the Y-chromosome, but it is also possible that God created a completely new DNA set for Jesus' body.

Mary was a surrogate mother for the Son of God.

36 Some have suggested that Mary and Elizabeth were cousins, but this is not specifically stated. There does appear to be a large age difference since Elizabeth was old, but Mary would live for at least more 33 years (assuming that Luke interviewed her, she would have continued to live many years after Jesus' resurrection). The other puzzling part of this family is that Zachariasand Elizabeth were descendents of Aaron (Luke 1:5) while Joseph and Mary were descendents of David (Luke 2:4, Luke 3:23, Mat 1:16-17). Thus, another marriage between the two families must have occurred to make Mary and Elizabeth relatives.
37 Gabriel explains to Mary that if God can help a barren woman conceive a child after menopause, then He can create a child inside Mary's womb.
38 Mary must have known that this would be a unique and controversial position, but she willingly accepted God's plan for her life.
39 It appears that Mary did not tell Joseph of her angelic visitation. After her three month visit with Elizabeth, it become apparent that Mary was pregnant. It is at that point that the events recorded in Mat 1:18-25 take place.

Zacharias, being a priest, lived close to the Temple in Judah.

41 Already we see some connection between John the Baptist and Jesus. The Holy Spirit prompted both the baby and his mother to rejoice.
43 Elizabeth most likely did not know of Mary's angelic visitation, and is it unlikely that Mary's pregnancy would have been obvious to the observer. Thus, Elizabeth would only have learned about Mary's pregnancy from the Holy Spirit.
45 Elizabeth's words are meant to encourage Mary. It may have been early enough in the pregnancy that Mary herself may not have noticed any changes. The encouragement may also refer to the hardships she would go through because of her pregnancy and the eventual mission of the Son she would bear.
46 This song of praise is called the Mafnificat after the Latin translation of the first word. The word "magnify" comes from the Greek meaning, "to declare as great." There are many similarities with Hannah's song in 1 Sam 2:1-10.
48 Mary knew the importance of the Messiah and what a great honor it was to be chosen to bear and care for the Child. All Christians recognize the blessing that Mary received. However, it is also important to remember that Mary was human just as the rest of us. Some have honored Mary to the point of deification, which is inappropriate. Mary was in need of salvation through her Son, just as every other human is.
49 Mary would have a relationship with Jesus like no one else. From His miraculous conception to resurrection, she would be the only person to see His life beginning to end.
51 I am not sure if Mary is speaking of current or future events. The idea is that God will help the poor and helpless who reverently fear Him and crush the rich, powerful, and proud people who feel they are self-sufficient.
54 Israel was at one of its weakest states, both physically and spiritually. Israel had great kings and influence in the past, but now God would make Israel a truly great nation in keeping with His promise (Gen 12:2-3). God was sending them their final King who will one day rule not only them, but also the entire world.
56 Mary apparently did not stay to see the birth of Elizabeth's child, John the Baptist.
58 Elizabeth was surrounded by friends and family who celebrated at John's miraculous birth.
60 Zacharias had not been able to communicate the details of his angelic visitation to the rest of the family (Luke 1:13). We do not know if Zacharias had managed to communicate this name to Elizabeth or if the Holy Spirit had already prompted her to want that name for her son.
61 It was highly traditional to name children after relatives.
62 Zacharias apparently suffered deafness along with muteness.
63 When Zacharias confirmed Elizabeth's choice of names, the gathering thought it was all very strange.
64 Since Zacharias had now seen everything God had promised, he was released from muteness (which had been his punishment for doubtfulness). Now the praises that had been bottled up for nine months came gushing forth.
66 With all the amazing and strange things that happened during the conception and birth of John the Baptist, the events became the subject of much speculation.
68 God had visited the Israelites when He freed them from Egypt. Now He was visiting again to free all people from sin.
69 A "horn" is symbolic of kingship. God would reestablish the ruling line of David with a final King, the Messiah.
70 The hope for this Messiah is spelled out in the books of the Old Testament and now is being fulfilled.
71 There will eventually be freedom from physical enemies, but even more importantly, Jesus' work would free us from our spiritual enemies: Satan and his demons.
76 John would be the prophet that would announce the coming of the Messiah. When people heard John's preaching it would prepare them to listen to Jesus.
80 Elizabeth and Zacharias probably died when John was still young. However, it appears he was old enough at the time to survive in the desert.

Some have speculated that John went to live with a religious group called the Essens, but there is no evidence to support this.