Gabriel visits Zechariah (06-12-21)
Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth were both elderly and they were childless. Zechariah was from a priestly family in Israel and, when it was his turn, he would serve as a ‘Duty Priest’ in the temple. On one such occasion he had an encounter with the Angel Gabriel.
Bible Reading: Luke 1:13-17
The angel said to him: "Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."
As I look back over my life I can recognise many people who have influenced me in many different ways, including parents and grandparents, family and friends, a local farmer, youth leaders, church leaders and bosses at work in my secular career. But as I think about Zechariah and Elizabeth, I am reminded of one elderly childless couple in my home church, John and Amy, whose love of the scriptures and whose faithful teaching was foundational in my Christian life.
Are there elderly people, past or present, who have been a positive influence in your life? If so, spend a few moments reflecting on them and giving thanks to God for all that they have done, or are continuing to do, for you.
As Luke’s gospel unfolds, God’s plan of salvation for the world is beginning to take shape, and it is starting with an elderly and childless couple. By a miracle they were to become the parents of John the Baptist, who would grow up to become a herald, preparing the way for the coming Messiah, his cousin Jesus (Mary and Elizabeth were cousins).
Gabriel said to Zechariah, ‘Your prayer has been heard’. There is no record of his prayer, but it is easy to imagine his and Elizabeth’s prayers over the years. There were many stands in God's plan of salvation: the focus would be Jesus, but it needed the faithfulness and the prayers of people like Zechariah and Elizabeth.
Are there young people today to whom you could be a Zechariah or an Elizabeth, young people who you could help on their journey of faith, maybe through teaching, or through encouragement, or through prayer?
There is no age barrier in the Christian faith, either to becoming a follower of Jesus, or to being involved in some form of effective ministry or influence for the Kingdom of God. We may not see the fruits of it in this life, as I guess Zechariah and Elizabeth didn’t, but it is all part of God's plan that is still unfolding through your life and mine.
For those who have prepared the way for me to follow you, Lord I thank you.
For those for whom I can prepare the way to follow you, Lord I pray your blessing.
God is working his purpose out