by Bill Spaans:
Chapter 1 of Luke’s gospel deals with the announcement of the birth of John the Baptist. As you may recall, central to this story are the couple Zachariah, who was the High Priest in Jerusalem, and his wife Elizabeth. This couple is well advanced in age and when the story begins, they had no children. One day an angel appears to Zachariah and the angel reveals a surprising truth. He announced that Elizabeth would have a baby. Zachariah was dubious and said “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.” At which point the angel said “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words –.” In the end Elizabeth did conceive and bore the baby John, who in time foretold the advent of Jesus!
So what are we to learn from this Word of God? There are perhaps three lessons for us today:
First: God had a plan for Zachariah and Elizabeth and He has a plan for us. A verse which is often quoted lately is from Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” In Jeremiah 29:12 we further read “Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.” God spoke to Zachariah as he was ministering and praying in the temple. Let’s recommit ourselves to serving God and to prayer.
Second: God sometimes works out His plans in surprising ways. Sometimes God’s ways seem improbable from a human perspective, but God is Sovereign, and His ways are often beyond our understanding. We need to learn to put our trust in Him. Today we as a congregation find ourselves in a precarious situation. Our numbers are small, and we are separated by this pandemic. It might be easy to give in to doubt and despair. We need however to continue to trust and obey.
Third: God’s plans will not be thwarted by our own feelings of inadequacy. Humanly speaking there is no way that Zachariah and Elizabeth would have a baby. And why would God choose such an old couple anyway for such an important task? Could it be that He is trying to make the point that it is not about our capabilities, but about His sovereign will for us? Let’s learn to not be surprised by the unexpected when it comes to serving our Almighty God! As a congregation we may also have doubts. But we need to recognize that God is greater than all our limitations! So let’s put our trust in Him. He has a plan for us, so let’s seek to embrace it in Jesus name!