What actually happened, when Jesus first came into this seemingly insignificant world? It began like this . . . (6)
During the time when Herod the Great was king of Judea (part of modern Israel), about 2,000 years ago, there was a Jewish priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly order of Abijah. Elizabeth, Zechariah’s wife, was also descended from a priestly family. Both Zechariah & Elizabeth lived good lives in God’s sight; they obeyed all of God’s laws and commands. But, they had no children, and they thought they never would, since they were both very old.
One day Zechariah was doing his work as a priest in the temple; he had been chosen to burn incense on the altar. Outside, a crowd of people prayed while the incense was burned. But inside, an angel of God appeared to Zechariah, standing at the right side of the altar! When Zechariah saw the angel, he was afraid.
The angel said to him, “Don’t be afraid, Zechariah. God has heard your prayer, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son. You must name him John. He will be a great servant of God. He mustn’t drink any wine or strong drink. He will be filled with God’s Holy Spirit from his birth, and he will point the people of Israel back to God, like the prophet Elijah! He will encourage those people, who have been disobeying God, to start obeying God again. He will get God’s people ready for his coming.”
Zechariah was skeptical & said to the angel, “How can we have a baby? I am an old man, and my wife is old, too.” “But I am Gabriel,” the angel answered. “God sent me to tell you this good news! Although you haven’t believed my message, it will come true at the right time. Because you haven’t believed me, you will not be able to speak, until the day God’s promise to you comes true!”
Outside, the praying people were waiting for Zechariah; they wondered why he was in the temple so long. When Zechariah came out & couldn’t speak, the people realized that he had seen a vision in the temple. Zechariah tried to communicate by making signs to the people with his hands, but to no avail.
So eventually, Zechariah & Elizabeth went back home.
Sometime later, Elizabeth actually did become pregnant! As she rested at home for five months, she told others of God’s mercy: “The Lord has blessed me. God has taken away my public disgrace.”
(6) Luke 1:5-25