Friday, December 6, 2013
Preparation for Preparation!
Luke 1:5-9,11-17 - There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judea, a certain priest named Zacharias... His wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both well advanced in years. So it was, that while he was serving as priest before God in the order of his division, according to the custom of the priesthood, his lot fell to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord. Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,’ and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
Hah. I felt led to write about the events leading to Jesus' birth in the Gospels. So I started with Matthew, writing. Then I went to Mark and realized that should precede Matthew, writing some more! As I went to Luke, the same thing happened.
So...here we see the preparation to the preparation for the Way! And this is interesting, like most accounts in the Bible.
We have Zacharias, a priest in the temple. Little did he know this particular day he would be greeted by an angel of the Lord and told some incredible thing. Sounds like a recounting of Abraham and Sarah's encounter with a bearer of good news...they both were going to be a father, even though it had not happened yet...but it would.
Zacharias and his wife were old, like Abraham and Sarah. Maybe not as old because Elizabeth still prayed for a child. Being barren in those days was a disgrace. Z was given some heady information...their son would prepare for the Way.
They knew of a coming Messiah, had a preconceived idea He would be a strong warrior. Zacharias should have been excited at the thought of being a participant in all this. As I recently heard, here's an angel of the Lord speaking to Zacharias but instead of, like Mary's response of being a willing servant in the plan of a lifetime, he questioned: “How shall I know this?” (Luke 1:18) Well, ummmm, there's an angel...his name is Gabriel, telling you these things. How could you even doubt?
And there was a consequence for this doubt. But behold, you will be mute and not able to speak until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words which will be fulfilled in their own time.” (Luke 1:20)
I love the story of Elizabeth and Mary, who of course was also entertained by an angel of the Lord. Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord. (Luke 1:45) Mary receives word of Elizabeth's news and to escape any stares and whispers of the people in town, she went to stay with Elizabeth. As she approached, Elizabeth's baby leaped in her womb. For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. (Luke 1:44) The Spirit of God came upon both mother and child. I'm guessing it was the nearness and power of a yet to be born Savior of the world which empowered baby John for the great thing he was to do some thirty years later.
A whole lot of Spirit going on here. The Spirit prepared the way for the Way back then and He does so still today when one seeks the Christ and truly believes on Him. He's as active today as then in Elizabeth's womb. Rejoice and be glad if you have it. Ask and receive if you have not. Listen to some of Mary's praise for her Son and Her own Savior. Trust that if you receive Him and His mercy upon you, what He has done for her he will do for you.
Luke 1:49-50 - For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name. And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation.