11 All at once an angel from the Lord appeared to Zechariah at the right side of the altar. 12 Zechariah was confused and afraid when he saw the angel. 13 But the angel told him:
Don’t be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayers. Your wife Elizabeth will have a son, and you must name him John. 14 His birth will make you very happy, and many people will be glad. 15 Your son will be a great servant of the Lord. He must never drink wine or beer, and the power of the Holy Spirit will be with him from the time he is born.
16 John will lead many people in Israel to turn back to the Lord their God. 17 He will go ahead of the Lord with the same power and spirit that Elijah had. And because of John, parents will be more thoughtful of their children. And people who now disobey God will begin to think as they ought to. That is how John will get people ready for the Lord.
God Breaks In To The Story
So into Zechariah’s religious reality that we talked about yesterday – of winning the lottery to get to go as close to God as possible – this angel shows up. Yeah … Zechariah wasn’t really expecting that. And the angel tells Zechariah that everything’s going to be awesome, the prayers that he’s been praying are going to be answered, and he’s going to not only have a son (considered a great blessing in his culture) but he’s going to have a specially-special God-man as a son. (The fancy word for what John is going to be is a Nazarite. If you want to read more about Nazarites, you can find the introduction to them in Numbers 6:1-21).
Not only that, but this John is going to be given the power and spirit of Elijah – who’s only the greatest prophet that Israel has ever had. And even more than that, the Jews believed that the Spirit of Elijah would return and then the Messiah, the chosen one of Israel, the one who was going to bring freedom and all things good to the people of Israel, was going to show up. And that’s who Zechariah’s just been promised is going to be his son. Whoa!
This is the link in to the story that God has been at work telling since the beginning of creation. Zechariah, as a priest, is more likely than most to have learned the basics of that story – to have studied what God has done for the people of Israel over the years, and to understand the meaning of these words. The question is, is he ready to say ‘yes’ to them?Journal Questions:
- Where have you already seen God at work in your story?
- If God were to actively break in to your brokenness right now how would you feel?
- If God were to ask you to be part of this new way of living life the way God has always intended that it should be lived, how would you feel?
- What if it meant giving something up?
- What if it meant being willing to change?
You can find more studies in the book of Luke on our website here.