For our Christmas service, my pastor reminded us of Jesus’ uncle whose name was Zacharias. He was an old and godly man, but without children. One day the angel Gabriel came to him with the news that his wife Elizabeth would soon give birth! But despite Zacharias’s faith and that an angel stood before him, he doubted this could happen. He was an old man, after all, and so was his wife!
This was the one time in Zacharias’s life that he probably should have kept his thoughts to himself, because Gabriel wasn’t kidding: he took away Zacharias’s speech until the child would be born.
Of course Gabriel was telling the truth about the coming child and Elizabeth did soon give birth. Their neighbors rejoiced with them, asking what they would name the boy. Elizabeth said John – and they were surprised. Who were they naming this child for? There is no John in their family. So they asked Zacharias, and by habit he reached for his slate and wrote the same name: He is to be called John.
Instantly he could speak again, and this is what he said:
Living Bible (TLB)
67 Then his father, Zacharias, was filled with the Holy Spirit and gave this prophecy:
68 “Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, for he has come to visit his people and has redeemed them. 69 He is sending us a Mighty Savior from the royal line of his servant David, 70 just as he promised through his holy prophets long ago— 71 someone to save us from our enemies, from all who hate us.
72-73 “He has been merciful to our ancestors, yes, to Abraham himself, by remembering his sacred promise to him, 74 and by granting us the privilege of serving God fearlessly, freed from our enemies, 75 and by making us holy and acceptable, ready to stand in his presence forever.
76 “And you, my little son, shall be called the prophet of the glorious God, for you will prepare the way for the Messiah. 77 You will tell his people how to find salvation through forgiveness of their sins. 78 All this will be because the mercy of our God is very tender, and heaven’s dawn is about to break upon us, 79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and death’s shadow, and to guide us to the path of peace.”
Here we are, sitting in sin’s darkness and in the shadow of death.We can feel that’s true, can’t we? We don’t have to look far to see that even in this most joyous season we still suffer from strained relationships, loneliness, sickness—many symptoms of a world that long ago decided not to accept the love of our Creator.
But Zacharias told us Heaven’s light was about to shine on us down here in this dark world. Jesus was about to be born to guide us on the path to peace.
Take a moment to remember what we celebrate today: Jesus is THE path to peace, sent to us because of the tender mercy of our creator.
Praise God! Our Savior is born!