Too often, we rush and we fail to slow down and consider the common sense of a Bible passage -
Like a learner in a reading class, let's break down
a passage to see if we can comprehend it better.
Luke 1 (NASB)
14 You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice over his birth.
- Who is talking? To whom is this speech directed?
- Who is the "he" being described?
- What will "he" be like?
- How will he turn many back to the Lord? Why might these need to be turned back?
- Before whom will "he" be a forerunner? What is he getting ready to do? What is a forerunner?
After telling Zechariah that his wife will give birth to a son, the angel informs Zechariah that John (the son) will be special. The boy will grow into a great man who does not drink. In fact, it seems that John will trade drink (and probably other vices) for the Holy Spirit - even while still in the womb.
Zechariah, the priest, must be pleased to hear that his son will be responsible for getting the Israelite people to return to God. He might also be fearful when he hears the next thing the angel speaks - that John will be a forerunner to another. The angel invokes the name of Elijah, and specifically reminds Zechariah about the prophecy that says one like Elijah will come. He must understand that the angel is talking about a Savior. What a responsibility!
Still, how happy it must make Zechariah to understand that his own son will be the one to fulfill this prophecy. I wonder how shocked he is to hear that the Messiah is likely coming during his own lifetime. Maybe he anticipates the possibility of meeting the Son of God in person.