Cruel Herod was the Jewish king; his subject Luke 1:1-20 was Zechariah, guard of what was just and temple priest. His turn had now arrived and he was tasked with seeing to the temple. A very worthy wife was joined to him. 5 They showed the same concern for proper bounds; the law’s commandments held them both as one. They had no child; in their despair as years now dwindled down, that gift would please them more. While he was offering incense at the altar, 10 an angel fast appeared from open heaven with a command to speak to him alone (the flock lay prostrate at the doors in prayer): “What fear does this alarming sight arouse, when grace of happy news should bring you calm? 15 The universal Father ordered me to come from heaven’s throne and state his pledge that soon your cherished wife will have a son. Great glory waits for him from the whole world; his birth will bring untold delight to men. 20 Keep him forever sober; in the womb the Spirit’s brilliant power will fill him. His teaching will convert most of this race to the true path; he will be first to know the Lord and God and will renew the people. 25 Remember, give to him the name of John.” To this the priest replied, his thoughts confused, “Our jealous age impedes such promises. The boy that God denied us in youth’s bloom cannot be granted in our flagging years.” 30
So spoke the anxious priest. The angel said, “If any man were promising a child, perhaps the doubt within your mind should keep to foolish words to voice your hopelessness. But now I, whom the Lord, creator of heaven 35 and earth, made serve before him, am received by the ungrateful ears and eyes of man; I have performed God’s will, to have it scorned. The gift remains inviolate, as pledged; but mute will be your voice – the quick mind’s herald – 40 until the gifts of God are all confirmed.” He said these things and blended with thin air.