Friday after Gaudete, The Third Sunday in Advent
Scripture: St. Luke 1:1-25 (NKJV)
1:1 Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us, 2 just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us, 3 it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus, 4 that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed.
5 There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah. His wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. 6 And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. 7 But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both well advanced in years.
8 So it was, that while he was serving as priest before God in the order of his division, 9 according to the custom of the priesthood, his lot fell to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord. 10 And the whole multitude of the people was praying outside at the hour of incense.
11 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing on the right side of the altar of incense. 12 And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him. 13 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. 14 And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. 15 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. 16 And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 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.”
18 And Zacharias said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is well advanced in years.”
19 And the angel answered and said to him, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and was sent to speak to you and bring you these glad tidings. 20 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.”
21 And the people waited for Zacharias, and marveled that he lingered so long in the temple. 22 But when he came out, he could not speak to them; and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple, for he beckoned to them and remained speechless.
23 And so it was, as soon as the days of his service were completed, that he departed to his own house. 24 Now after those days his wife Elizabeth conceived; and she hid herself five months, saying, 25 “Thus the Lord has dealt with me, in the days when He looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.”
“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.”
The angel had brought Zacharias some great news. He and his wife Elizabeth, childless and advanced in years, would soon have a son. Back then people didn’t think of children as a burden. They thought of them as gifts of God, as a “heritage of the Lord,” because that’s exactly what the Bible calls them (Psalm 127:3). The prayers of Zacharias and Elizabeth were answered. A son would soon be theirs.
But Zacharias knows biology. “How shall I know this?” he asks, observing that both he and his wife are old. It was a faithless question. “I hear your words, O angel of the Lord, but I also know old folks don’t have babies.” The Word of God stood against Zacharias’ observations, and he doubted the Lord’s words.
Then the angel cursed him…or was it a gift? If your mouth can’t say something faithful, then it should say nothing at all. And so it was that he was struck mute until his child, John the Baptist, was born. God grant us to believe His Word, even against our experiences, or understanding, or feelings. The Word of God is always right. So may we ever believe, and so may we always speak.
We pray: Oh Lord, open my lips, that my mouth may declare Your praise. Grant me by Your grace to say faithful things, or else to say nothing at all. Most of all, grant me faithfully to trust Your promises, especially Your promise of salvation in Christ Jesus. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.