Luke 1:5-25 THE BIRTH OF JOHN THE BAPTIST FORETOLD
This begins the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth and the birth of John. The angel Gabriel came to Zechariah in the temple to tell him that his wife, who is beyond child years, would have a baby. The name "John" means "the Lord has shown favor." Zechariah and Elizabeth received God's grace in having a child beyond their childbearing years. Nothing is impossible for God and I should be open to the impossible happening for me too. My prayers can include things which seem impossible to me.
Herod ruled from 37 to 1 BC, giving this story a time frame. At this time there were about 20,000 priests throughout the country. The priests were divided into 24 separate groups of about 1,000 each, according to David's instructions (1 Chronicles 24:3-19). Zechariah was a member of the order of Abijah (verse 5) (line of Aaron)(Abijah chief priest of Levites in Nehemiah 12:4), on duty this particular week. Each morning a priest was to enter the Holy Place in the Temple to burn incense. The priests would cast lots to decide who would enter the inner sanctuary, and one day the lot fell to Zechariah, which was perhaps a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. How amazing is God's timing and God's plan!
A whole multitude of people were praying outside when the Angel came to Zechariah inside the temple. I never saw this verse before, but it gives me a visual of this army of prayer warriors that were praying when the Angel of the Lord arrived. This gives me a sense of unity as the Angel delivers this important message to Zechariah.
I can imagine his excitement for this high point in his life as he entered the temple. Was his heart beating rapidly? Mine would have been! Already in a state of intense excitement and happiness, a euphoria, all of the sudden an Angel appears before Zechariah and "fear fell upon him." I'm not so sure I wouldn't have fainted! I would have at least fallen to the floor with my heart having dropped out of overwhelming internal jolts.
In verse 14, Luke uses the word 'joy' for the first of many times (1:14, 1:44, 1:47, 2:10, 8;13, 10:17, 15:7, 15:10, 24:41, 24:52) Every parent's heart longs for their child to be successful in life, whatever definition of success might be for them. What great joy and gladness when a parents dreams come true! Not only that, but many people (for ages to come) will rejoice at his birth! I cannot imagine knowing that before my child is even conceived. Then there is the cherry on top that John will be great before the Lord. Verse 15 mentions that John will be filled with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is also a common theme of Luke.