And so we now come to the point that in Isaiah 40 was prophesied about.
Gabriel visits Zechariah, an old priest, who with his wife for many years, honoured God, served Him and followed his commands. God sees them as righteous in his sight, and yet they are without child. Gabriel, an archangel, who stands in the awesome presence of the Lord, has been sent to him to explain how he will become a father.
Zechariah’s son will not just be anyone; he will be the one preparing the way of the Lord, turning people back to God in preparation for the coming of the Messiah. He will have the same spirit that Elijah had and will turn people’s hearts to God. Zechariah however is unsure. After many years of no children, and having a wife who is probably past child bearing age, he questions Gabriel. This doesn’t end well for him as he is struck mute until the time when John will be born. Elizabeth conceives and waits.
In the meantime (Elizabeth is six months pregnant) Gabriel is then sent to Mary, and tells her how she will conceive and have a son, whom she is to call Jesus. She also questions, although from more of an inquisitive stand than one of disbelief. Gabriel goes on to say how the Holy Spirit will come upon her and how the child she is to carry will be God’s own Son.
Mary, now with child, goes to visit Elizabeth, and then as she walks in, the Holy Spirit that is in Jesus also enters John in the womb and the foetus John jumps with joy in the presence of his Saviour, fulfilling what Gabriel had said that he would have the spirit upon him before birth.
This chapter ends with John being born. The family are discussing what he should be named, then Zechariah, who has not uttered a single word for over 40 weeks says: ‘His name is John!’ He goes on the worship God and prophesies about how John is to be a prophet of the Most High God, a voice calling ‘prepare the way of the Lord’.