He who would sire a son in his old age with his past child-bearing-years wife.
He who, with his wife, Elizabeth, had prayed for a son (Luke 1:13) but had given up on ever hearing an answer.
But the year came when the aged and sonless priest from the division of Abijah, in the line of Judah, the line of promise that led to David and the promise of an eternal throne, was called to burn incense in the Temple.
Luke 1:6 tells us that he and Elizabeth were “both righteous before God walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statues of the Lord.” And yet, this good and righteous couple was chosen by lot to offer the incense in the temple. It was an extraordinary privilege and one he could not have expected. If you were a priest in his time, you could only do it once in your lifetime and some never got the chance at all. It was the pinnacle of his life as a priest, and the highlight of their childless marriage.
So he goes to the Temple.
Finally, he has gotten the opportunity to go into a part of the Temple that few ever see.
And there, in the sanctuary of the Temple’s holiest place, God sends an angel to give him a message. He and Elizabeth are going to have a son! The news is too good to be true. He doubts the angel which is to doubt God Himself. They had prayed too long with no answer. And now they were old. Others might be a part of God’s plan, but it looked like their line would end.
They may have been a part of the line of Judah but no Messiah would come from them. But God had other ways for them to participate in every Jewish hope. God had other plans for the redemption of the world. Their son would be the forerunner to the Messiah. He would be the herald, the announcer, the way-paver of the King. He would grow up to be the baptizer named John.
Their son would be filled with the Holy Spirit while still in his mother’s womb. Their son would leap in his mother’s womb when the mother of his Savior came to greet Elizabeth, his mother. Their son would one day point and declare of Jesus, “Behold, the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.”