An Angel Tells about the Birth of John
5 When Herod was king of Judea, there was a priest by the name of Zechariah from the priestly group of Abijah. His wife Elizabeth was from the family of Aaron.6Both of them were good people and pleased the Lord God by obeying all that he had commanded.7But they did not have children. Elizabeth could not have any, and both Zechariah and Elizabeth were already old.
8One day Zechariah's group of priests were on duty, and he was serving God as a priest.9According to the custom of the priests, he had been chosen to go into the Lord's temple that day and to burn incense,10while the people stood outside praying.
11All at once an angel from the Lord appeared to Zechariah at the right side of the altar.12Zechariah was confused and afraid when he saw the angel.13But the angel told him:
Don't be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayers. Your wife Elizabeth will have a son, and you must name him John.14His birth will make you very happy, and many people will be glad.15 Your son will be a great servant of the Lord. He must never drink wine or beer, and the power of the Holy Spirit will be with him from the time he is born.
16John will lead many people in Israel to turn back to the Lord their God.17 He will go ahead of the Lord with the same power and spirit that Elijah had. And because of John, parents will be more thoughtful of their children. And people who now disobey God will begin to think as they ought to. This is how John will get people ready for the Lord.
18Zechariah said to the angel, “How will I know this is going to happen? My wife and I are both very old.”
19 The angel answered, “I am Gabriel, God's servant, and I was sent to tell you this good news.20You have not believed what I have said. So you will not be able to say a thing until all this happens. But everything will take place when it is supposed to.”