Bible Verse: “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,
because he has come to his people and redeemed them.
He has raised up a horn of salvation for us
in the house of his servant David
(as he said through his holy prophets of long ago),
salvation from our enemies
and from the hand of all who hate us— to show mercy to our ancestors
and to remember his holy covenant,
the oath he swore to our father Abraham:
to rescue us from the hand of our enemies,
and to enable us to serve him without fear
in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. Luke 1:68-75
Scripture Reading: Luke 1:5-25; Luke 1:57-80
It’s a common TV sitcom trope that men just don’t get it. Homer Simpson, Ray Barone, Sheldon Cooper, Michael Scott, etc.—a man’s general disconnect or cluelessness is on full display for laughs.
Most men I know are mildly annoyed at the showbiz tactic. It feels lazy and somewhat insulting. “This is what we think of men? That we’re idiots?”
And yet— sometimes fair is fair. While in real life, it is unwise to apply broad stereotypes to either gender, we should also acknowledge in real life that sometimes, hey, we do miss the point.
Zechariah sure did. As part of the Christmas story, we look to this elderly childless priest who received a divine visitation and miraculous promise from God—that he and his wife would have a son in their old age, who would precede the Messiah and prepare the way for Him.
This son would be John the Baptist, who we read about yesterday.
The angel arrives and gives Zechariah the good news: “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 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” (Luke 1:13; v.16-17).
The news of a son was what Zechariah and his wife had been waiting for their whole married lives, and then the added bonus of who this son would be was over the top! And directly from an angel, clearly showing the power of God even in the delivery of the message!
How does Zechariah respond to this miraculous visitation and information?
“How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years” (Luke 1:18).
The angelic visitation was not enough to convince him of God’s power. He responds with doubt in the face of God’s promise, and as a consequence, God makes him mute until the child is born (v.20).
Perhaps God wanted to ensure he didn’t say any more faith-less things!
At the baby’s dedication, Zechariah (through writing) names his baby John, and God’s power looses his tongue again, and he releases the words written out as our main passage above. Words of hope, thanksgiving, praise, and deliverance—no longer is he doubting God, but he responds with faith.
Doubt is a normal part of the spiritual journey, but we must continually return to hope. In the Christ child, God was keeping His most important promise to save the world and deliver His people from evil. Our hope calls us to remind ourselves of this regularly and stand upon that hope for the future.
Prayer: Lord, I believe; help me in my unbelief! (Mark 9:24) Amen.
Reflection: Where in your life are you wrestling with doubt right now? What are some healthy ways to handle that doubt?
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