News for Zacharias
When did this happen? In the days of Herod, the king of Judaea
There was a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia:
“The course of Abia” – There were so many priests that they could not all minister at the altar at once, so David divided them into 24 classes or courses. They were divided impartially by the casting of lots. Abia (or Abijah) was the eighth course. Each “course” of priests ministered in the temple for a week. Each course ministered twice in a year. 1 Chronicles 24:1-19 (studylight)
His wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth.
“Of the daughters of Aaron” – John’s father was a priest and his mother was the daughter of a priest; and thus, both by father and mother, he descended from the family of Amram, the father of Aaron (and Moses. Amram and his wife Jochebed were both Levites – Exodus 2:1 and 6:20) John had the right to be a priest based on his Levitical ancestry.
Zacharias and Elisabeth were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. They had no child, because Elisabeth was barren, and they both were now very old.
While Zacharias executed the priest’s office; his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord. He was in the temple when an angel of the Lord appeared to him.
Angel: Fear not, Zacharias: for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elisabeth shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you shall have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. For 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. And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall 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.
Zacharias: How shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years.
Angel: I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak to you, and to show you these glad tidings. You shall be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because you did not believe my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season.
The people waited for Zacharias, and marveled that he had stayed so long in the temple.
When he came out, he could not speak to them. They perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple: because he beckoned to them, and remained speechless.
As soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house.
And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived. She hid herself five months.
Elisabeth: Thus has the Lord dealt with me in the days when he looked on me, to take away my reproach among the people.
News for Mary
In the sixth month (of Elisabeth’s pregnancy) the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.
Gabriel: Hail, you that are highly favored, the Lord is with you: blessed are you among women.
When Mary saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.
Gabriel: Fear not, Mary: for you have found favor with God. And, behold, you shall conceive in your womb, and bring forth a son, and shall call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give to him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
Mary: How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?
Gabriel: The Holy Ghost shall come upon you, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow you: therefore that holy thing which shall be born of you shall be called the Son of God. And, behold, your cousin Elisabeth, she has also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. For with God nothing shall be impossible.
Mary: Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.
And Gabriel departed from her.