Merry Christmas Everyone! I took a few weeks off to focus on my church’s Christmas production, but I’m back now and better than ever. Christmas is tomorrow and I am so excited! I’m sure you are too. Christmas is such a wonderful time of the year and I love getting to study Jesus’ birth every year.
When I was trying to think of what I wanted to write about this Christmas I kept getting drawn back to Zechariah and Elizabeth. They’re not the most prominent people involved in the Christmas story, but their story is still extremely important and there are tons of lessons to be gleaned from it. So, I think this year I’m going to take a nontraditional route and talk about them.
Let’s talk about Zechariah first. He’s not the first person I think about when I think of the Christmas story, but as I was studying this past week, I thought it was really cool reading about how God worked in his life. Zechariah was a priest and if you asked anyone I’m sure they would have told you he was close with God. I mean, when God spoke to him he was performing a sacred ritual in the temple. That’s pretty close. However, what we discover quickly is that he and God may have had a great relationship, but there was still a part of him that was very human and closed off to God. He and Elizabeth had prayed for a baby for years and years, and at this time of this story they were old and had given up hope. At some point, they stopped believing that God could or would give them a baby. When, an angel came to Zechariah and told him they were going to have a child, and that he would be a prophet that went before God’s son, Zechariah was absolutely shocked. Just like anyone else, even though he walked with God and trusted him with his life, he doubted that this could really make the impossible happen.I thought this was a pretty normal reaction, but I think I forgot that God can do anything, just like Zechariah.
God’s response to his doubt was to make him mute until his son, John, was born. I was completely and utterly confused about God’s reason for this until I was doing the She Reads Truth study, and one of the authors explained the reason. He cared about Zechariah so much that he made him mute so that he could work on encouraging him to release that last little bit of his heart to him. I’ve noticed God do this with me before, as well. He’s never made me mute, but he has allowed me to get sick or injured, so I would have to stay home and have the time to make my relationship right with him. God doesn’t want us to suffer, but sometimes it’s necessary to help us pull our focus. It’s okay to doubt, worry, and question, but what’s important is that we come back to God. When we do come back we should have a similar reaction to Zechariah. When John was born and his voice returned to him, his first reaction was to praise God and tell everyone about what God had done for him and his family. That should be our reaction after every encounter we have with God. Essentially that’s all the time, because everything around us is something God created and has blessed us with.
I also love Elizabeth, his wife. She was one of Mary’s relatives and her faith was as strong as her husband’s. Elizabeth is a great example of how we should act in the presence of God, and how we should stand up for our faith. Mary came to visit her after she became pregnant with Jesus and the entire encounter was incredible. Elizabeth recognized the presence of Jesus immediately, even her baby jumped in her womb. Elizabeth was awed that she got the honor to be in the presence of Jesus, even when he was still in the womb. She felt unworthy and excited. Elizabeth is a great example of how we should react anytime we get to spend time in the presence of God. We should come with reverence, awe, and excitement.
Elizabeth also stood up for what God told her to do even when her friends and neighbors thought she was crazy. Everyone thought she should name her son after her husband, since it was the tradition at the time. However, Elizabeth knew that she should do what God commanded, and she named her baby John. We should always be like Elizabeth. The world will think we are insane for some of our actions, but none of that matters if what we are doing is God’s will.
I believe their story greatly impacted Mary. The angel told Mary about Elizabeth when she questioned how she would get pregnant and assured her that nothing is impossible with God. I’m also going to go out on a limb and assume that Mary’s visit with Elizabeth helped calm any of her fears. Without Zechariah and Elizabeth I believe that Mary would have never have been as at peace as she was throughout her pregnancy.
Because of their faith, Zechariah and Elizabeth were blessed beyond measure. They both got to meet Jesus, in the flesh. Even in their old age, God blessed them with a son. Not only that, their son became one of the greatest prophets of the New Testament, best known as John the Baptist. We all have a lot to learn from their story, not just that we should remain faithful through any trials like they did when they were praying for a baby. We can learn from Zechariah’s story that we should always be strengthening our relationship with God, even when we are walking close because we can always get closer. He also shows us how we should react when God blesses us. We can learn how we should approach God with reverence and awe from Elizabeth. We can also follow her lead and stand up for our faith just like she did.
I hope during this last week of the holiday season and beyond we can all keep these lessons in mind. I’m praying for you all and, as always, I ask that you pray the same for me.
This Week’s Spoken Word: HERE
- Luke 1:5-25; 39-45; 57-66