Zachariah was paralyzed in fear.
But the angel reassured him, "Don't fear, Zachariah. Your prayer has been heard. Elizabeth, your wife, will bear a son by you. You are to name him John.
You're going to leap like a gazelle for joy, and not only you - many will delight in his birth.
He'll achieve great stature with God.
He will turn many sons and daughters of Israel back to their God.
He will herald God's arrival in the style and strength of Elijah, soften the hearts of parents to children, and kindle devout understanding among hardened skeptics - he'll get the people ready for God."
Zachariah said to the angel, "Do you expect me to believe this? I'm an old man and my wife is an old woman."
But the angel said, "I am Gabriel, the sentinel of God, sent especially to bring you this glad news.
But because you won't believe me, you'll be unable to say a word until the day of your son's birth. Every word I've spoken to you will come true on time - God's time."
Meanwhile, the congregation waiting for Zachariah was getting restless, wondering what was keeping him so long in the sanctuary.
When he came out and couldn't speak, they knew he had seen a vision. He continued speechless and had to use sign language with the people.
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)