Background An angel comes to Zechariah while he is in temple acting as priest. At that time if there were too many priests, they would take turns. Note how much emphasis there is on this pious Jew, the central role of the temple and its priests and traditions. Luke is picking up the story of Israel and connecting it to the birth of John and then Jesus. An important point in this Gospel, as well as Acts, is the continuity of God’s plan for humanity and his convenient with the chosen people as part of that, which is continued and expanded through Jesus.
Focus Verse Luke 1:12 “When Zechariah saw him, he was terrified; and fear overwhelmed him.” Or from King James “And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him.”
I like the description of fear falling on us, like a live thing that attacks us. Poor Gabriel, in the birth narrative he is never greeted with a “yay it’s an angel- it must be good news!”. But instead, fear pounces on everyone at first. Like Zechariah, they are afraid. Can we blame them? What if an Angel appeared before you- wouldn’t you be confused, wondering if maybe they really want someone else, more important- someone more brave? It is important to notice who Gabriel does come to. It isn’t the amazing or the important, it is to young girls and old men, confused carpenters and grubby shepherds. Ultimately, it is to us, like kids in the back of the classroom without our hands up, when our good teacher knows us and our worth better than we do. Ready or not, the message is coming.