5 In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. 6 Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. 7 But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old.
Thoughts: There were 24 divisions of priests and about 20,000 priests in Judea. Each division served about two weeks a year. A priest was supposed to get married, and have children. It was a sign of God's blessing to have children. But Zechariah and Elizabeth, though righteous, were unable to conceive. In our day many Christians try to do things right but feel that they are fruitless. This whole story of the birth of John, the one Jesus called "greatest born of women", is a story of God's bearing fruit when people thought they should give up on trusting God. Zechariah and Elizabeth are examples of faithfulness in a faithless age.
Prayer: Help me, O Lord, to listen to you and follow in your way faithfully.
John Calvin abridged: Luke begins speaking of John the Baptist just like a person who would speak of daylight starts with the dawn. Zechariah and Elizabeth were righteous before men and God. To be righteous before God requires a sincere heart and a pure conscience to God. But secondly it requires that we listen to God's commands and not make up our own rules of righteousness. Here John the Baptist is shown to be a mortal man born of ordinary parents but in a supernatural way (like Isaac).