Wesley's Notes on Luke 1:5-25
5. The course of Abia - The priests were divided into twenty-four courses, of which that of Abia was the eighth, 1 Ch xxiv, 10. Each course ministered in its turn, for seven days, from Sabbath to Sabbath. And each priest of the course or set in waiting, had his part in the temple service assigned him by lot.
6. Walking in all the moral commandments, and ceremonial ordinances, blameless - How admirable a character! May our behavior be thus unblamable, and our obedience thus sincere and universal!
10. The people were praying without, at the time of the incense - So the pious Jews constantly did. And this was the foundation of that elegant figure, by which prayer is in Scripture so often compared to incense. Perhaps one reason of ordaining incense might be, to intimate the acceptableness of the prayer that accompanied it; as well as to remind the worshippers of that sacrifice of a sweet-smelling savour, which was once to be offered to God for them, and of that incense, which is continually offered with the prayers of the saints, upon the golden altar that is before the throne, Rev. viii, 3, 4.
12. Zacharias was troubled - Although he was accustomed to converse with God, yet we see he was thrown into a great consternation, at the appearance of his angelical messenger, nature not being able to sustain the sight. Is it not then an instance of the goodness is well as of the wisdom of God, that the services, which these heavenly spirits render us, are generally invisible?
13. Thy prayer is heard - Let us observe with pleasure, that the prayers of pious worshippers come up with acceptance before God; to whom no costly perfume is so sweet, as the fragrancy of an upright heart. An answer of peace was here returned, when the case seemed to be most helpless. Let us wait patiently for the Lord, and leave to his own wisdom the time and manner wherein he will appear for us. Thou shalt call his name John - John signifies the grace or favor of Jehovah. A name well suiting the person, who was afterward so highly in favour with God, and endued with abundance of grace; and who opened a way to the most glorious dispensation of grace in the Messiah's kingdom. And so Zacharias's former prayers for a child, and the prayer which he, as the representative of the people, was probably offering at this very time, for the appearing of the Messiah, were remarkably answered in the birth of his forerunner.
15. He shall be great before the Lord - God the Father: of the Holy Ghost and the Son of God mention is made immediately after. And shall drink neither wine nor strong drink - Shall be exemplary for abstemiousness and self-denial; and so much the more filled with the Holy Ghost.
16. And many of the children of Israel shall he turn - None therefore need be ashamed of "preaching like John the Baptist." To the Lord their God - To Christ.
17. He shall go before him, Christ, in the power and spirit of Elijah - With the same integrity, courage, austerity, and fervour, and the same power attending his word: to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children - To reconcile those that are at variance, to put an end to the most bitter quarrels, such as are very frequently those between the nearest relations: and the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just - And the most obstinate sinners to true wisdom, which is only found among them that are righteous before God.
18. Zacharias said, Whereby shall I know this? - In how different a spirit did the blessed virgin say, How shall this be? Zacharias disbelieved the fact: Mary had no doubt of the thing; but only inquired concerning the manner of it.
19. I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God - Seven angels thus stand before God, Rev. vii, 2; who seem the highest of all. There seems to be a remarkable gradation in the words, enhancing the guilt of Zacharias's unbelief. As if he had said, I am Gabriel, a holy angel of God: yea, one of the highest order. Not only so, but am now peculiarly sent from God; and that with a message to thee in particular. Nay, and to show thee glad tidings, such as ought to be received with the greatest joy and readiness.
20. Thou shalt be dumb - The Greek word signifies deaf, as well as dumb: and it seems plain, that he was as unable to hear, as he was to speak; for his friends were obliged to make signs to him, that he might understand them, ver. 62.
21. The people were waiting - For him to come and dismiss them (as usual) with the blessing.
24. Hid herself - She retired from company, that she might have the more leisure to rejoice and bless God for his wonderful mercy.
25. He looked upon me to take away my reproach - Barrenness was a great reproach among the Jews. Because fruitfulness was promised to the righteous.
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