One Final Hope

In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” —Luke 1:26–28

Just When All Hope Is Gone, An Angel Appears
Does any human emotion run as deep as hope? Fairy tales, which are nearly universal, pass down from generation to generation an irrepressible sense that in the end the forces of evil will lose the struggle and the brave and good will somehow triumph.

For the people Luke introduces in this first chapter of his Gospel, all hope seemed like a fairy tale. As Middle Eastern empire rose and fell, the tiny nation of Israel could never truly break free from the domination of grater powers. No prophet had spoken to the people in four centuries. God had long threatened to hide his face, and indeed a dark shadow had fallen across the planet.

This is how one Jewish poet expressed the mood of the times:

We are given no signs from God;
No prophets are left,
And none of us knows how long this will be.
How long will the enemy mock you, God? (Ps. 74:9–10)

Rumors of Joy
For four centuries, the four hundred years of God’s silence, the Jews had waited and wondered. One flicker of hope remained, the ancient promise of a Messiah. On that promise the Jews staked everything. Then, suddenly, stories spread about the birth of a baby unlike any other.

Luke took care to relate these stories to the predictions of a Messiah given by the Old Testament prophets who originally stirred the hope. He portrays John the Baptist as an “Elijah” sent to prepare the way of the Lord.

A good historian looks for reliable sources, such as people who were personally involved in the events being described. Luke doesn’t claim to be an eyewitness himself, but he carefully interviewed many who did witness the events. Luke gives details about Jesus’ birth found in no other Gospel. Some scholars believe Luke must have interviewed Mary, the mother of Jesus, during his investigations into Jesus’ life. As a result, Christmas pageants rely heavily on the Gospel of Luke, making these words very familiar.

If an angel appeared to you, would you respond like Zechariah or like Mary?

Excerpted from a “Guided Tour” article in the NIV Essentials Study Bible.

Bible Study

  • man holding face in hands

    Why Does God Allow Bad Things To Happen?

    No one knows the mind of God, except for God himself.... Read more
  • What the Bible Tells Us About Luke

    One of the essential qualities of a good doctor is... Read more
  • Who was John the Baptist

    John the Baptist (or Baptizer) was God’s gift in... Read more


  • man holding face in hands

    Why Does God Allow Bad Things To Happen?

    No one knows the mind of God, except for God himself.... Read more
  • How Do We Keep the Peace of God in Our Lives?

    Paul tells us to “be anxious for nothing” (Phil.... Read more
  • A Psalm of Thanksgiving

    ... Read more

Devotional Reading Plans

  • Living a Balanced Life

    This 7-day devotional offers reminders of what is most... Read more
  • A Transformed Life

    This 7-day devotional offers inspiring and challenging... Read more
  • Parenting with Grace

    Raising children brings incredible joy and... Read more


  • Does Anything Prevent God from Answering Our Prayers?

    ... Read more
  • 5 Easy Things You Can Do to Hear the Lord’s Voice More Clearly

    “Hear, O My people, and I will admonish you! O... Read more
  • Understanding the Lord’s Prayer

    He said to them, “When you pray, say: ‘Father,... Read more


  • Romans 8:28 SpeakLight Danny Gokey

    Romans 8:28 / #SpeakLight / Danny Gokey

    And we know that all things work together for good to... Read more
  • James 5:16 - Steven Malcolm

    James 5:16 / #SpeakLight / Steven Malcolm

    Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for... Read more
  • 2 corinthians 5:17 phil joel

    2 Corinthians 5:17 with Phil Joel

    Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new... Read more

Spiritual Growth

  • A Biblical Theology of the True Davidic King

    As is true with other kings in David’s line, when... Read more
  • Anything You Hold Too Tightly You Will Lose

    Sometimes in this life of faith, God will remove His... Read more
  • King Jesus is Coming

    After Jesus ascended to heaven, the disciples looked... Read more