Luke 1v14 ‘He will be a joy and a delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth’.
I was going to do chapters 1-4 but on reflection there is much to learn from the first chapter. In honesty, when I decided I was going to read Luke’s gospel I was going to skip the first four chapters so that I could get into the main bulk of Jesus’ ministry. There is value in each chapter within the gospel or it would not be there as it would take away from the truth of the good news Luke was trying to share. The people who helped pave the way, there is much to learn from their faithfulness.
Chapter One of Luke is a long chapter with a lot of information. That includes both the birth of John the Baptist and Jesus being foretold. There is Mary visiting Elizabeth and Mary’s song. Then there is John the Baptist’s birth and Zechariah’s song. It is a beautiful chapter to take your time to read through because it is full of promises, faithfulness and transformation.
I want to focus on Elizabeth and Zechariah who were people known for their faithfulness. v6 ‘Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly.’ However, Elizabeth was barren and to those looking at her and Zechariah’s life they would have claimed that they were not blessed by God. v 7 ‘But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old.’ Throughout the Bible, we are reminded that there is no barrier that can stop God’s blessing on our lives. Elizabeth’s story is familiar with the Old Testament story of Sarah and Abraham. Both Sarah and Abraham were advanced in their years, Sarah was beyond child bearing age. They were promised that in a years time, from the visitors that spoke with them that Sarah would bear a son. The account continues that Sarah laughed, understandably she looked at herself physically and the years that had passed and saw frailty. Her doubt is questioned when the Lord says, Genesis 18v13-14 ‘ Then the Lord said to Abraham , “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child now that I am old?’ Is anything to hard for the Lord? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”
Similar to the account, when Zechariah is told of the child Elizabeth will bear he has doubt too. That comes, again, by looking at the frailty of who they are. Luke 1v18 ‘Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.”. Again, God proves them wrong and Zechariah is silenced until the birth of his son because of his doubt. v20 ‘And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time.’ There is a blessing in the silence as we will look at later in the chapter. The context of where Zechariah is at the time is important, he was in the temple of the Lord burning incense. He was chosen by lot through his priestly division. When he came back out and had been silenced, the people were made aware that he had seen a vision but because he did not speak there was no knowing what it was.
What struck me was the words that the angel used to describe the child that Elizabeth and Zechariah would have. It was no ordinary child, in their waiting they were blessed with a child who had great purpose. v16-17 ‘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.” These were the notes that I wrote after reading these verses. Through the faithfulness of Zechariah and Elizabeth they were blessed with a child, they also enabled others to be blessed due to their faithfulness. I do believe that there is always fruit within faithfulness, whether it is fruitful for our own life or for someone else either is a blessing. I would encourage you to read Hebrews 11 to see this in action. Through their faithfulness it brings transformation. For Elizabeth, when she finds out that she is pregnant she rejoices. v 25 ‘”The Lord has done this for me,” she said. “In these days he has shown us his favour and taken away my disgrace among the people.”‘
In looking at how God transformed their life, not for their glory but for his glory is a reminder for us all. In our faithfulness, we are not doing it so that we can be rewarded. Sometimes that can be our mindset, we believe because we have a great faith we deserve all these incredible gifts and blessings. That is not true. Their is truth in God using our life for his good and his purpose, where it may bring blessing upon our life or it may be through our suffering that someone else is blessed. We have to learn to trust in God’s timing and in his will. It is easy to write but it is not easy to do. That is why day by day we need to surrender and be obedient to who he has called us to be. There have been many faithful servants who have gone before us to pave the way so that we can have our faith and freedom. May we not take that as our right but keep on fighting the good fight, for all those who are suffering and oppressed. Through faithfulness there will be transformation, may we trust that it is all in accordance with God’s will.
Lastly, let’s go back to Zechariah. After the birth of his son his voice is returned to him after the naming of his child. Filled with the Holy Spirit his song is recorded, these are the verses that I would like to highlight. v76-79 ‘And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death to guide our feet into the path of peace.’ Hope was rising and God was using the most unlikely heroes to do it. For there is power in a willing and obedient heart.
I am going to continue looking at Luke’s gospel for the next few weeks. Not chapter by chapter but thematically. I pray that they would encourage you in your faith and allow you to pursue God’s word within your life.
You are so loved and cherished. Have a wonderful week. Love Victoria. xx