Dec. 20, 2021
5There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth.
6And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.
7And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years.
8And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest’s office before God in the order of his course,
9According to the custom of the priest’s office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord.
10And the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense.
11And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense.
12And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him.
13But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.
14And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth.
15For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb.
16And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God.
17And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.
18And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years.
19And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings.
20And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season.
21And the people waited for Zacharias, and marvelled that he tarried so long in the temple.
22And when he came out, he could not speak unto them: and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple: for he beckoned unto them, and remained speechless.
23And it came to pass, that, as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house.
24And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, and hid herself five months, saying,
25Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men.
No; it’s not your imagination and no – I’m not having a senior moment (although that has been known to happen …), we read these verses for the First Sunday in Advent and now, as Christmas is only five days away, we will be reading the whole of St. Luke’s Gospel so this is a good refresher and lead-in to the rest of the story.
As we know, Elizabeth is carrying in her womb John, who will become the Baptizer. As with the birth of Jesus, Whose coming was foretold, John is the fulfillment of Old Testament prophesy as well. The one ‘crying out in the wilderness’ will in time advise those who come to him for baptism that he himself is not the ‘One’ but that he prepares the way for that One Who is to come.
It’s difficult, when reading about John, to not think ahead to when he sent some of his followers to disciples of Christ, asking if He was the one – or do we ‘wait for another’. It’s reassuring, I think, to look back on this question because it’s there for us as well as for John; it’s ok if sometimes we wonder or have doubt about Jesus. John knew Jesus even in the womb and yet he doubted. But all the history of Jesus is our assurance that Jesus was and is and has always been exactly as He portrayed Himself. Emmanuel. Son of the Father.
But right now we’re waiting … as the world then waited … for this Baby to be born.