By: Dave Kother
As Luke tells the miraculous story of how God would save the world with the coming of His Son, he begins with the story of another miracle. The story of Jesus’s coming to earth is preceded by the miraculous arrival of the one who would “make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Luke 1:17).
5 In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, 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.
(Luke 1:5-23, English Standard Version)
Zechariah was a dedicated priest, and his wife Elizabeth was a righteous and faithful servant of God. Luke describes their character as righteous and blameless in all aspects of their long lives of service to God, but there was one stark thing missing – Elizabeth was barren. Zechariah and I’m sure Elizabeth had prayed about this often, but years and years had passed.
As Zechariah encountered the angel Gabriel, his announcement was so extraordinary and beyond comprehension that Zechariah could hardly believe the words he was hearing. Because of his unbelief, no matter how rational, Zechariah was rendered speechless “until the days that these things take place” (Luke 1:20).
Not only would the birth of this child be the miraculous coming of the predecessor of the Savior, but he would bring inexplicable and long-awaited joy and gladness to his parents and many around them.
God was about to do an extraordinarily unimaginable miracle in sending His Son into this world, and He began by doing something equally unthinkable. He is not limited to how many miracles He does and to whom He does them. The Bible is a story of the Almighty God showing His miraculous power and plan for the saving of the world in a way that goes beyond our comprehension. This early story in Luke’s gospel shows us that God not only performs extraordinary miracles to bring about His eternal plan but also answers prayers in a way that can make us speechless. This Advent season, let’s continue to pray and see the miracles from this incredible God we serve!
About the Author: Dave Kother, or ‘DK’ as he’s known to Millington’s AWANA kids, has worked for the City of Linden as a police detective for over 28 years. He and his wife Denise live in Scotch Plains and are blessed with four children.