What would you have said the to angel if you had been Zachariah? Any questions you would have asked?
Beyond just because him not believing, why do you think the angel makes it so Zachariah can’t speak?
What is John’s role going to be in God’s purposes through Jesus? Why is this so important?
Why do you think it says Mary was “confused and disturbed”? How does the angel respond?
What do you think makes Mary the “right” person to have God’s son? (Any hints in the angels’ words or her response?)
How would having an unexpected baby change your plans for the future? How open would you say you would be to God asking you to do something this life-altering?
Throughout the story, it talks about certain people being “filled with the Holy Spirit.” What is the significance of that?
What does Mary’s song show about her trust in God and who she knows Him to be?
When is the last time you were sure God “took notice” of you and worked in your life? How did it change your level of trust?
Why do you think it’s so important to Elizabeth and Zachariah that the baby be named John (“the Lord is gracious”)?
If you had been one of the villagers, watching all of this go down (older couple having a baby, father mute, not naming him a family name), what would you have been thinking?
How often do you allow the good things God does for you lead you to praise him (see verse 64)?
How does Zachariah see the current events in his life fitting with God’s purposes in the past?
What, according to Zachariah is supposed to be the result of what God is doing? (see especially verses 74-75 and 78-79)
When you look at your own life, do you see God’s purposes moving to grow and direct you over time? In what ways?
Why is the character of Joseph (goodness) so critical to this section?
What do you think Joseph was thinking and feeling during this time in his life? What would you have felt/thought if you had been Joseph? Why?
Joseph did “what the angel commanded.” Why is obedience central to love and life with God? Where are you in terms of obedience to the Lord?
The emperor decrees… people have to respond. Does this reflect the character of the “other” new born King in this narrative? Why or why not?
How difficult would this journey have been for Mary (going to Bethlehem)? What would you have been thinking of having to travel and having your first born son far from home?
What do the details of how Jesus’ birth (God coming into this world) say about who he is? How does this differ from what we expect out of rulers/leaders?
Why do you think the shepherds were the first to hear of the good news of Jesus’ birth?
Focus in on verse 14… what does this song of praise say about God? What does it say about people?
Mary “treasured these things in her heart.” Why is this important for Mary? How do you treasure the realities of God’s love in your heart?
What does the sacrifice Mary and Joseph bring to the Temple say about their economic place in this world?
What do you imagine Jesus’ upbringing was like in terms of what he had and what he didn’t have? What does this say about what God values?
Look at Exodus 13:2 (and the whole chapter of Exodus 13). How does the dedication Mary and Joseph present in the Temple tie into the Old Testament history of Israel? What would this sacrifice have reminded Mary and her husband of?
Why wouldn’t Simeon die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah?
What do Simeon’s words of praise say about God and his love of people?
How do you think Mary and Joseph would have felt hearing the “blessing” of Simeon? How would you have felt if Jesus were your son? Why?
Why do you think these wise men from the East know that Jesus has been born when Herod and all the religious teachers (who know all the prophesies) don’t?
If wise star gazers from the east were to walk into our church and start talking about God showing up in a new way, how do you think we would react?
Are there any ways today that we could be more open to what God is up to around us, even if it doesn’t look like what we expect?
What are the differences between the wise men’s reaction to Jesus and Herod and God’s people’s? Why do you think that is?
What would you have thought if you were Mary and Joseph (poor Israelite family) and these eastern men showed up with these rare, valuable gifts to offer your baby?
Is there anything this Christmas that you might offer to God as a form of worship?
A lot of times, when we talk about the Christmas story, we neglect the danger and violence that Jesus and his family faced. Why do you think that is?
If you had been Mary and Joseph, how would you have felt after the joy of having your first born son, now having to flee to Egypt (months long journey not knowing when you might be able to return home)?
What ways do we “fight” against Jesus being born as a king and having authority in our lives?
How does Jesus’ journey to Egypt and back reflect the path of God’s people earlier in the story? What might be the significance of this?
Over and over in this story God seems to be clearly leading people (Joseph, the wise men). When was the last time you had a clear sense of where God was leading? How did you respond?
Why do you think God lead them to Nazareth, an out of the way, rural town for Jesus to grow up?