Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us,
2 just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us,
3 it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.
5 In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah,[a] of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. 6 And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord.
7 But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years 8 Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty,
9 according to the custom of the priesthood, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense.
11 And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. 12 And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him.
13 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.
14 And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth,
15 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. 16 And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God,
17 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.”
18 And Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” 19 And the angel answered him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news.
20 And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.” 21 And the people were waiting for Zechariah, and they were wondering at his delay in the temple.
22 And when he came out, he was unable to speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision in the temple. And he kept making signs to them and remained mute. 23 And when his time of service was ended, he went to his home.
24 After these days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she kept herself hidden, saying, 25 “Thus the Lord has done for me in the days when he looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.”
How often do we spend our time praying about something that we so desperately want, only to get it and then be shocked that God answered. The reaction that Zechariah gives the angel is interpreted as a lack of belief and faith that God could possibly give his elderly wife a child after all these years. However, this does not deter God’s plan from being carried out.
God’s plan to provide a child for Zechariah and Elizabeth was more then just allowing for them to take on the role of being parents. God had great plans for their child and intended to use him to be a means to spread the Gospel to many people. God’s answer to their prayer exceeded more then what they could have ever asked for.
It was a trying time for this husband and wife to go through. Yet, through it all, the timing was still perfect and God’s intention to use John as a means to spread the good news, was not thwarted by the fact that Elizabeth was too old to carry a child. It is amazing to see how against all the odds and what we know to be the proper biological clock in which a women ought to be pregnant, God still works through these things and brings about His wonderful plan.
Let us always trust that God’s timing and plans are better then ours. He is always working to bring about the best for our lives and we do not have to worry about when or how things will take place because we serve the true author of time and control.
There are certain features about the gospel narratives that should draw on one’s knowledge and understanding of the Old Testament. The birth narratives of Luke do just that. Luke is evoking images of Abraham when the angel visited him and granted he and Elizabeth a son. The life of John was similar to that of Elijah in that they lived in the wilderness, followed strict life style codes, and came preaching repentance and a return to the Lord.
But something much better than John the Baptist was coming. He was merely to make way for the savior. But We can see that God is present even in the small details. Much about the gospel stories did not need to take place. Jesus could have just showed up. But that didn’t happen. God gave the people signs to see what He was doing.
If you are wondering where God is in your life, look for a sign. God is still active and still speaking. He did not quit with Zechariah and Elizabeth or with Jesus.
[Featured image from en.wikipedia.org]