But the angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayer. Your wife, Elizabeth, will give you a son, and you are to name him John. You will have great joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the eyes of the Lord. He must never touch wine or other alcoholic drinks. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even before his birth. And he will turn many Israelites to the Lord their God. He will be a man with the spirit and power of Elijah. He will prepare the people for the coming of the Lord. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and he will cause those who are rebellious to accept the wisdom of the godly.”
Today we step back a bit to the days before Jesus’ birth. Luke vividly describes the uncommon circumstances of how an angelic visitation happened not just once but twice in a short space of time. Here is how the first one came about.
Zacharias, a priest, has an angel encounter while performing his duties in the temple. The Angel Gabriel tells him that his wife, Elizabeth, will have a son. Angel or not, the good priest is skeptical. After all, he and Elizabeth aren’t young anymore, and they have been childless for many years.
Because of his lack of faith, Gabriel tells Zacharias he will not be able to speak until his son is born. And, sure enough, Zacharias is struck dumb. While suddenly becoming mute is not a joyful development, it certainly must have gladdened the hearts of the elderly couple to have confirmation that the angels spoke the truth about their unusual child!
How joyful Elizabeth would have been! At last, when hope seemed gone, she would be given her heart’s desire. A baby boy was on the way, and not just any baby, but one with a special task and a special anointing from God’s Holy Spirit. Nine months after the angelic visititation, Zacharias vocally praised God that their son would herald the coming of the longed-for Messiah!
Prayer: Thank you, Heavenly Father, for using us who are ordinary humans. Even flawed and sometimes faithless, you choose us to do your work in the world. Help us to accept your words, your call, your provision, with joy and belief in the impossible. Amen