Read Luke 1:5-25
Righteous And Blameless (But Not Perfect)
Luke begins his account of the gospel not with the birth of Jesus, but of John the Baptizer, who was born about six months before “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). John’s parents were Zacharias and Elizabeth, both described in inspiration as “righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless” (Luke 1:6). What a beautiful description of these people of faith!
We are not told exactly how old this couple was; we only know that “they were both well advanced in years” (Luke 1:7). Zacharias was a priest and was on this occasion burning incense in the temple. This was a special honor for a priest. The late brother James Burton Coffman wrote, “The great numbers of priests necessitated that particular choice for various functions should be made by casting lots; and no one was allowed to burn incense more than once, many never being permitted to do so at all.”
While he performed his duties at the altar of incense, an angel appeared to Zacharias and told him that he and his wife would have a son. This son, who they were to name John, would be the fulfillment of Malachi’s prophecy! “He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘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” (Luke 1:17).
Zacharias stumbled in his faith here, doubting the angel’s announcement. “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife s well advanced in years” (Luke 1:18). There is little doubt that Zacharias had forgotten about Abraham and Sarah and the birth of Isaac, but this man likely did not consider himself in the same class as Abraham.
Yet, everything the angel came to pass; Zacharias and Elizabeth brought John the Baptizer into this world, and John prepared the people for the coming Christ, “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).