Announcement of the Birth of John
In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there lived a priest named Zechariah, belonging to the priestly clan of Abijah. Elizabeth, Zechariah’s wife, also belonged to a priestly family. Both of them were upright in the eyes of God and lived blamelessly in accordance with all the laws and
commands of the Lord, they had no children. Elizabeth was barren and now they were both very old.Now, while Zechariah was serving in the temple along with the priests of his division, whose turn it was to serve, it fell to him by lot, according to the custom of the priests, to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and burn in cense.
While all the people who had gathered for the incense service were praying outside, an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing on the right side of the altar of incense. On seeing the angel, Zechariah was deeply troubled and fear took hold of him.But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, be assured that your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son and you shall name him John. He will bring joy and gladness to you and many will rejoice at his birth.
This son of yours will be great in the eyes of the Lord. Listen: he shall never drink wine or strong drink, he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb. He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. He himself will open the way to the Lord with the spirit and power of the Prophet Elijah; he will reconcile fathers and children, and lead the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous, in order to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.”Zechariah said to the angel, “How can I believe this? I am an old man and my wife is getting on in years.”
The angel replied, “I am Gabriel, who stands be fore God, and I have been sent to speak to you and bring you this good news! But because you have not believed my words, which will come true at the proper time, you will be mute and unable to speak until this has happened.” Meanwhile the people waited for Zechariah, and they were surprised that he delayed so long in the sanctuary..
When he finally appeared, he could not speak to them and they realised that he had seen a vision in the sanctuary. He remained dumb and made signs to them.
When his time of service was
completed, Zechariah returned home and some time later Elizabeth be came pregnant. For five months she kept to herself, remaining at home, and saying, “This is what the Lord has
done for me. In these days God has shown me favor and taken away my shame.”