21 Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah, and they wondered why he was in the sanctuary for such a long time. 22 When he came out, he was unable to speak to them. They realized he had seen a vision in the temple, for he gestured to them and couldn’t speak. 23 When he completed the days of his priestly service, he returned home. 24 Afterward, his wife Elizabeth became pregnant. She kept to herself for five months, saying, 25 “This is the Lord’s doing. He has shown his favor to me by removing my disgrace among other people.”
In Zechariah and Elizabeth’s day, “Childless parents lacked support in their old age, and many people assumed that such a condition reflected divine punishment for sin.”* That’s why Luke stressed in Luke 1:6 that “they were righteous before God.” It was what Elizabeth meant when she said God had showed favor by “removing my disgrace among other people.” “This is the Lord’s doing” didn’t mean they were passive—Elizabeth no doubt experienced all the good and difficult parts of pregnancy. But in and through it all, she saw God at work.
- Scholar N. T. Wright wrote, “Luke is careful not to dress up the story by making Zechariah a great hero of faith…. God regularly works through ordinary people, doing what they normally do, who with a mixture of half-faith and devotion are holding themselves ready for whatever God has in mind.”** What helps you to hold yourself ready for whatever God has in mind? Has God ever surprised you by doing something through you that you didn’t think you could do?
- Luke’s story was no “once upon a time” tale. It was about real people and places, which he said he’d verified with eyewitnesses (cf. Luke 1:1-4). He tied the story to the reign of specific rulers (cf. Luke 1:5, 2:1-2). Does it help you to trust Luke’s story that he referred to names and dates that people in his day could easily have verified? Why or why not?
Lord God, you worked out your plan through ordinary people like Zechariah and Elizabeth. That gives ordinary me hope. I hold myself ready for whatever you have in mind for me. Amen.
* HarperCollins Christian Publishing. NIV, Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible, eBook: Bringing to Life the Ancient World of Scripture (Kindle Locations 232054-232055). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.
** N. T. Wright, Luke for Everyone. (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2004, pp. 7-8.)
Brandon Gregory is a volunteer for the worship and missions teams at Church of the Resurrection. He helps lead worship at Leawood's modern worship services, as well as at the West and Downtown services, and is involved with the Malawi missions team at home.