I feel lead to start another long series. I feel like nowadays people have a skewed outlook on who Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and God are. So I want to take a good look at what the gospels says. At times things are going to get tough. They're going to be messy. Jesus will say things we don't want to hear. He'll say things that (if we didn't know Jesus said it) we'd reply with, "That's not very christian like." So we're going to call this series (as of right now) the "Red Letters" series and we're going to discuss the tough things He says.
So lets start at the beginning. In Luke's gospel, he doesn't start immediately with the birth of Jesus like Matthew, which may surprise you, but it starts with a guy named Zechariah.
Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty, according to the custom of the priesthood, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense. And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb. And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.”
-Luke 1:8-17 ESV
That little bit is cram packed with info. Zechariah is a jew, and because we see he's a priest, we know he's a Levite. The only jews allowed to be priests were those who were of the tribe of Levi. Priests should not be confused with Pharisees and Sadducees. Pharisees and Sadducees could be from any tribe. He also only served around 4 to 6 weeks a year. He served 1 week every 24 weeks, so that's about twice a year, plus the days of highly religious holidays, like passover.
This passage also talks about how the child to be named John, A.K.A. "John the Baptist", would be filled with the Holy Spirit and have the spirit (or attitude and presence, not the literal "spirit" or "soul") and power of Elijah. And John will turn the Israelites back to God and prepare the way for the Lord. John is often referred to as the forerunner to Christ.
This probably doesn't make Zechariah happy. He's a priest! It's like Gabriel the angel was calling him a failure! Like he's not doing his job! How would you feel in that situation? Zechariah doesn't believe this! He begins to question the angel, and not believe him. But we'll pick up with that tomorrow...