Luke 1:5–17

Read the passage.

Luke’s account begins with a priest. This priest, Zechariah, and his wife Elizabeth are blameless and upright before the Lord, and yet they have no children. This is an important detail, because to first-century Jews this would be a contradiction. But then Zechariah is chosen for a special priestly duty. On this particular day, he is chosen at random to be the one to burn incense before the Lord while everyone else prays outside the temple. While he is doing this, an angel appears beside the incense altar and tells him he and his wife will have a son in their old age. But he isn’t just any child, but one that is full of the Holy Spirit even before he is born. He will go forth and prepare the people of Israel for the Lord who is coming into their midst.

The angel mentions that John will come in the spirit and power of Elijah. Today, when Jews celebrate Passover, they set an extra place for Elijah because he is prophesied to come back at any point (Mal 3:1, 4:5), and they want to be ready in case he comes to their house. However, the angel and, later, Jesus identify John as the fulfillment of this prophecy.

We toss the dice or flip the coin, but You determine the outcome, O Lord. You rule sovereignly over every detail of our lives.

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