To remind us of why we celebrate Christmas, my kids and I began reading the Christmas story in Luke 1. Before we could get to the good part, something interesting grabbed my attention.
Luke 1 opens with Zacharias, a priest, burning incense in the temple when an angel of the Lord appeared to him. When Zacharias saw the angel, fear fell upon him. The angel had come to tell him that the prayers he had prayed for a son had been heard.
The angel prophesied to Zacharias about his son. “His name will be John…He will be great in the sight of the Lord…He will be filled with the Holy Spirit in his mother’s womb…He will go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah…He will make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
Really? Was the heavenly being chatting with him not enough?
I can imagine Zacharias having a hard time wrapping his mind around the “Holy Spirit” part because the Holy Spirit had not been sent yet. He was to come AFTER Jesus ascended to Heaven.
After Zacharias reminded the angel that he and his wife were old, the angel said to Zacharias,
“I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and was sent to speak to you and bring you these glad tidings. But behold, you will be mute and not able to speak until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words which will be fulfilled in their own time.”
Speechless, he went home to Elizabeth after his appointed days of service in the temple. When the time was right, the prophesy spoken by the angel came to pass. The child was filled with the Holy Spirit in his mother’s womb. Elizabeth was also filled with the Holy Spirit.
When the child was born, they named him John instead of naming him Zacharias, after his father. Once the baby was named, Zacharias regained his voice and he, too, was filled with the Holy Spirit and began prophesying.
This story resonated in me. Even though Zacharias was scared and didn’t believe the message sent to him by the angel, the work was done anyway. He and Elizabeth still had a son. John still grew up to become a great man before God. He still proclaimed the Kingdom and prepared the way for Jesus.
Hebrews 11:6 tells us “without faith, it is impossible to please God.” Zacharias was unable to speak during his wife’s pregnancy because he didn’t believe the message sent by God. Zacharias could have experienced the waiting period differently, if he had believed. But, God still accomplished what He promised He would do. God doesn’t break promises.
This story was comforting to me because I have been afraid before. I haven’t always believed the message sent to me. I’ve wondered if I missed out on things because I wasn’t strong in my faith.
God keeps all His promises.