Text: Luke 1:13-25
Zechariah is struck dumb until the fulfillment of Gabriel’s prophecy.
Zechariah is only briefly mentioned in the Bible, but his story is a powerful one. He is called “righteous in the sight of God” – a label not used to introduce many, even in the time of Jesus.
For all his knowledge as a high priest, a visit from the angel Gabriel brings out the disbelief in Zechariah. He is told that his wife, Elizabeth, will conceive a child. His answer is similar to a man he must have studied and known about his entire life, Abraham (Genesis 17:17): “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.” (Luke 1:18)
He is then struck dumb by the angel Gabriel until his child is born.
Why is this? It rings with the familiar tone of Moses being denied entry into the Promised Land, Lot’s wife being turned into a pillar of salt, even Adam and Eve leaving the garden. We might look at each of those situations and say, “But Lord – such harsh consequences for these offenses. Why?
Looking closer, we see that those who seem, in our eyes, to have been doled an unfair lot, are also those that God placed immense trust and power in over the years. The saying “With great power comes great responsibility” is also true of those who represent the Lord. Zechariah was struck dumb because God knew his disbelief was a stumbling block in their relationship. He saw the authority Zechariah had not only over the people he ministered to, but soon his own son.
In this Christmas season when hearts ache as much as rejoice, let us hold fast to the promises of our Lord of a second coming, of life after death, of grace covering our sins. We can believe in what we have been told, and we should. Like any relationship, distrust whittles away a bond over time. While God knows our humanity and weakness, our prayer should be, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24)
Father, like Zechariah, our belief in You often falters. Deepen our trust in you. Help us to understand the weight of our responsibility as followers of Jesus. Hear us when we cry out to you, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” Amen.
Go stargazing and recite Mark 9:24 aloud, as a prayer. “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”
For an added layer of worship and study, we chose a beloved Christmas song for each day of our Advent plan. We invite you to listen to The First Noel today as we dwell on the truth of God’s word together.