The birth of John -- His mission -- The Annunciation of the Savior.
As I am a messenger of Jesus Christ, and knowing that many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us:
Even as they delivered them unto us, who from the beginning were eye-witnesses and ministers of the word;
It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee, in order, most excellent Theophilus,
That thou mightest know the certainty of those things wherein thou hast been instructed.
There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia; and his wife being of the daughters of Aaron, and her name Elizabeth,
Were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless;
And they had no child. Elizabeth was barren, and they were both well stricken in years.
And while he executed the priest's office before God, in the order of his priesthood,
According to the law, (his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord,)
The whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense.
And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord, standing on the right side of the altar of incense.
And when Zacharias saw the angel, he was troubled and fear fell upon him.
But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias, for thy prayer is heard, and thy wife Elizabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.
Thou shalt have joy and gladness, and many shall rejoice at his birth;
For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb.
And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God;
And he shall go before the Lord in the spirit and power of Elias, 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.
And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife is well stricken in years.
And the angel answering, said unto him, I am Gabriel, who stand in the presence of God, and am sent to speak unto thee, and to show thee these glad tidings.
And behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believedst not my words which shall be fulfilled in their season.
And the people waited for Zacharias, and marveled that he tarried so long in the temple.
And when he came out, he could not speak unto them; and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple; for he beckoned unto them, and remained speechless.
And as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house.
And after those days, his wife Elizabeth conceived, and hid herself five months, saying,
Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he looked on me, to take away my reproach from among men.
And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God, unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth.
To a virgin, espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.
And the angel came in unto her and said, Hail, thou virgin, who art highly favored of the Lord. The Lord is with thee, for thou art chosen and blessed among women.
And when she saw the angel, she was troubled at his saying, and pondered in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.
And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found favor with God.
And behold, thou shalt conceive, and bring forth a son, and shall call his name Jesus.
He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David;
And he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
Then said Mary unto the angel; How can this be?
And the angel answered and said unto her, Of the Holy Ghost, and the power of the Highest. Therefore also, that holy child that shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.
And behold, thy cousin Elizabeth, she hath also conceived a son, in her old age; and this is the sixth month with her who is called barren.
For with God nothing can be impossible.
And Mary said, Behold the handmade of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.
And in those days, Mary went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda,
And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elizabeth.
And it came to pass, that when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb.
And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost, and she spake out with a loud voice and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.
And why is it, that this blessing is upon me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.
And blessed art thou who believed, for those things which were told thee by the angel of the Lord, shall be fulfilled.
And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord,
And my spirit rejoiceth in God my Savior.
For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden; for behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
For he who is mighty hath done to me great things; and I will magnify his holy name,
For his mercy on those who fear him from generation to generation.
He hath showed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He hath put down the mighty from their high seats; and exalted them of low degree.
He hath filled the hungry with good things; but the rich he hath sent empty away.
He hath helped his servant Israel in remembrance of mercy,
As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed forever.
And Mary abode with Elizabeth about three months, and returned to her own house.
And now Elizabeth's full time came that she should be delivered; and she brought forth a son.
And her neighbors, and her cousins heard how the Lord had showed great mercy unto her; and they rejoiced with her.
And it came to pass, that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; and they called him Zacharias, after the name of his father.
And his mother answered and said, Not so; but he shall be called John.
And they said unto her, There is none of thy kindred that is called by this name.
And they made signs to his father, and asked him how he would have him called.
And he asked for a writing table, and wrote, saying, His name is John, and they all marveled.
And his mouth was opened immediately, and he spake with his tongue, and praised God.
And fear came on all who dwelt round about them. And all these sayings were noised abroad throughout all the hill country of Judea.
And all they that heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, What manner of child shall this be? And the hand of the Lord was with him.
And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying,
Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people,
And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us, in the house of his servant David,
As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, ever since the world began,
That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all those who hate us;
To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant;
The oath which he sware to our father Abraham,
That he would grant unto us, that we, being delivered out of the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear,
In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our lives.
And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest, for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways,
To give knowledge of salvation unto his people, by baptism for the remission of their sins,
Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the day-spring from on high hath visited us,
To give light to them who sit in darkness and the shadow of death; to guide our feet into the way of peace.
And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts until the day of his showing unto Israel.
Birth of Christ -- The Shepherds' vision -- Simeon and Anna prophesy.
And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all his empire should be taxed.
This same taxing was when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.
And all went to be taxed, every one in his own city.
And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David,)
To be taxed, with Mary his espoused wife, she being great with child.
And so it was, that while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
And she brought forth her first-born son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger, because there was none to give room for them in the inns.
And there were in the same country, shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flocks by night.
And lo, an angel of the Lord appeared unto them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them; and they were sore afraid.
But the angel said unto them, Fear not, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
And this is the way you shall find the babe, he is wrapped in swaddling clothes, and is lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel, a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying,
Glory to God in the highest; and on earth, peace; good will to men.
And it came to pass, when the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go, even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord has made known unto us.
And they came with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
And when they had seen, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
All they who heard it, wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds;
But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.
And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things which they had heard and seen, as they were manifested unto them.
And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called Jesus; which was so named of the angel, before he was conceived.
And when the days of her purification, according to the law of Moses, were accomplished; they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord;
As it is written in the law of the Lord, every male which openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;
And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is written in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtle doves, or two young pigeons.
And behold, there was a man at Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Ghost was upon him.
And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ.
And he came by the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child, even Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law,
Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said,
Lord, now lettest thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word;
For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,
Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people;
A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.
And Joseph, and Mary, marveled at those things which were spoken of the child.
And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against;
Yea, a spear shall pierce through him to the wounding of thine own soul also; that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.
And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of great age, and had lived with a husband only seven years, whom she married in her youth,
And she lived a widow about fourscore and four years, who departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers, night and day.
And she, coming in that instant, gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him, to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem.
And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee to their own city, Nazareth.
And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, being filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him.
Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover.
And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem, after the custom, to the feast.
And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind, in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not that he tarried;