Text: Luke 1:5-25
“Many have undertaken to compile a narrative about the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as the original eyewitnesses and servants of the word handed them down to us. It also seemed good to me, since I have carefully investigated everything from the very first, to write to you in an orderly sequence, most honorable Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things about which you have been instructed” (Luke 1:1-4).
In the beginning of Luke’s Gospel, he tells his readers he is writing to give an “orderly sequence” of Jesus’ life. Luke anchors his Gospel in verifiable historical markers because he wants us to know that the story he is telling really happened.
If Luke’s account is only a myth, it means nothing. But if it is true—if the Son of God came not only to live among us, but to die for us and rise to life and give that life to all who trust in His name—then the coming of Christ, the Prince of Peace, has changed the world and our place in it.
In these days leading up to Christmas, we’ll read the detailed narrative of the Nativity according to Luke. Luke’s Gospel gives us the fullest account of the Nativity story, walking us through the people, places, and divine interventions which led to the birth of the Savior of the world. May the story of Jesus’ birth cause our celebration of Christmas to be marked by our worship of Him.
One of my favorite memories of our twin girls is from last Christmas Eve. After lighting that last candle and launching into a surprisingly spirited rendition of “Silent Night,” we bowed our heads to pray—and I peeked. Sometimes I can’t help myself, hearing the expectant innocence in their prayers. When I opened my eyes I saw one daughter, hands clasped against her bowing head as she murmured her prayer. The other sat eyes wide open, cheeks smushed and chin resting in her hands, as she stared into the candlelight, waiting.
In that moment, I saw my own relationship with the Lord: the praying and the waiting. Because while I try to attune my heart to His in prayer, to wait on Him, I find that sometimes—well, it’s just hard to wait.
Zechariah was a faithful priest who also happened to be in the business of waiting. Scripture tells us he and his wife, Elizabeth, were good people, “righteous before God, walking blamelessly” with Him. “But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years” (Luke 1:5-7). These two people, believed to be in their eighties at the time, had hoped for a child their whole lives. At what age do you think they stopped praying for that child? How many years had passed since then?
But that wasn’t the only waiting Zechariah was accustomed to. After decades of faithfully serving as a priest, he was chosen by lot to enter the holy place on the Day of Atonement and burn incense—a symbol of prayer (Revelation 5:8; 8:3-4)—on behalf of the people who were praying outside the temple (Luke 1:9-10).
As one of 8,000 priests serving in Palestine at that time, this would be the one and only time Zechariah would enter into the holy place and perform this duty. It was in this moment that the Lord sent His angel Gabriel to meet Zechariah at the altar and say, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John“ (Luke 1:13).
I imagine Zechariah’s ears might’ve started ringing just then, intermingled with words like: joy… Holy Spirit… womb… make ready for the Lord. Because he was a real man living with the very real, lifetime-long grief of being childless in a culture that placed great value on children. His prayer had never been answered until now—at least, not with a “yes.” Things can happen to a heart that waits and hopes and longs for prayers that seemingly go unanswered. It can grow sick in the waiting (Proverbs 13:12). Doubt can take root in the waiting.
“How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.”
- Luke 1:18
We know the rest of the story. Because of his doubt, Zechariah would “be silent and unable to speak until the day” his son was born (Luke 1: 20). This was not punishment for his unbelief, but rather, discipline from a loving Father (Proverbs 3:12). In Zechariah’s silence, God tended to his heart. And when the silence was over, Zechariah’s first words were a song of blessing unto the Lord (Luke 1:64, 67-80).
Perhaps the priest who’d served the Lord faithfully his entire life still had one small piece of his heart closed off from his Maker. And because God loves His children, He is jealous for every part of our hearts, that not one piece of us would stay separated from His presence. That’s why He sent us His Son.
The world that lay waiting—for new life, for irrevocable hope—would soon receive the ultimate answer to all her prayers.
Kara Gause is an editor for She Reads Truth happily residing in Nashville, Tennessee. She’s married to one swell fella and mother to a set of delightfully spirited twin girls. Sunsets and snow cones are near and dear to her heart, as is anything or anyone who reminds her of God’s goodness.