Monday, September 29, 2014
Luke opens his letter to Theophilus (which we know as “the Gospel of Luke”) with a peculiar account of the herald of Jesus, John the Baptist. John’s role in the life and ministry of Jesus was part of God’s plan, but there may be one other element about his story that we might miss.
Here’s the situation: Zacharias was chosen to perform a once-in-a-lifetime service in the Temple when The Angel of The Lord appeared to him with a peculiar message, a message not intended for the devout who waited for Zacharias to emerge, nor for the nation of Israel, nor for the Romans. The Angel brought a personal message from God to Zacharias--that he would father a child. Understand that both Zacharias and his wife were well beyond childbearing years, so “naturally,” Zacharias doubts the message. A child? Impossible!
The Angel tells Zacharias that God already sees the not-yet-conceived child as “great”, but what makes him great? The Angel says that John will be recognized by what he eats and does not eat. This must be the sign of a great man--or is it? What about his work, that he will turn “many of the sons of Israel back to the Lord their God.” Now that sounds more like a great man, doesn't it? An influencer of people! But this is not what makes John great. God sees John as great because while God forms him in the womb, John will be filled with God’s Holy Spirit. Now THAT’s a great man! Hard to believe, isn't it?
Which is more impossible: having a child in one’s old age, or being great for God without His Holy Spirit? If you think about it, God incarnate did not need a forerunner, but He planned to have one sent ahead to prepare the way of the Lord--and God would settle for nothing less than a spirit-filled vessel.
Zacharias’ problem was that he did not believe the message, so the Angel of the Lord silenced Zacharias until John was born. He hesitated because he was an old man and his wife was just as ancient. Here he was, serving in The Temple of God, telling God that he was not fit to be used of God!
How much are we “shut up” because we fail to believe God? How is it that we assume to know ourselves better than He who formed us in the womb? It’s easy to say, “well, Zachariah should have believed!” but the difficulty on our part is that we have so many opportunities to believe God and do not.
With what things are we to believe God? Let’s go back to the opening verses of Luke, where we learn that Luke records events as described by eye-witnesses. The writer spoke with those who encountered Jesus, compiled evidence, researched and verified truth about Jesus that should be believed. He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!
Don’t be "shut up" because of unbelief!