Luke 1:5-7

In the days of King Herod of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly order of Abijah. His wife was a descendant of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. Both of them were righteous before God, living blamelessly according to all the commandments and regulations of the Lord. But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were getting on in years. Luke 1:5-7

Everyone has a “story behind the story.” Ancestry.com has built their entire business model around helping people discover more about who they are by looking back at who they were. Sometimes those discoveries happen on a therapist’s couch. All of us carry ghosts in our attics.

Luke begins his orderly account by reaching back to the longer memory banks of the people of Israel. Certainly here, to Zechariah and Elizabeth, but their station in life ties them to heroes of the faith reaching all the way back to Abraham. They are faithful people who have suffered the heartache (and shame) of childlessness. Which, of course, is blamed on Elizabeth being “barren” without regard to the math that requires two to tango.

Of these two, heartache and shame, it is shame that carries the most spiritual power and social weight. For any couple seeking to have a baby, watching all of their friends get there first, these two forces weigh upon them. Even today, with all of our medical knowledge and technical skills, people still suffer from guilt and shame when they are unable to conceive or carry a baby to full term.

But in the Bible, it isn’t about the mechanics of making babies. In the Bible, the great surprise arises when God shows up to do the seemingly impossible. Not as a reward to the faithfulness of those praying to have a child someday, but as a sign that God is up to something significant in salvation history. Zechariah and Elizabeth take their place as instruments of God’s love.

God uses the powerless to do powerful things.

There are many moments and seasons in life that feel utterly hopeless. Shame continues to accuse us that there is something intrinsically wrong with us and therefore, we are the cause of the pain in which we live. Shame isolates and drives us into ourselves. Shame divides us and cuts us off. We go through the motions of life.

In such moments we need to hear a word from outside of ourselves that redirects us and reminds us that life is not about us. Even our own lives are not about us. We are all children of God and God is working in, through, and under all of us. The world might not remember us as the world today remembers characters like Zechariah and Elizabeth…but someone will. Someone always does. And those someone’s needed us. They will always appreciate us. And we might never know it.

Let us pray: Dear Lord, you have done mighty things through people who had no idea what you were up to in their lives. You continue to carry the promise and power of your love through common people doing common things, maybe especially in the most uncommon of places and ways. Encourage us with continued signs of your presence, even in our lives. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

One Response to “Luke 1:5-7”

  1. garlee931 Says:

    The story of Hannah, in 1 Samuel 1, who was a wife to Elkanah, was a similar story where she had been barren for many years until Eli blessed her because of her faithfulness and mothered Samuel. Samuel anointed David as King and his lineage led to the birth of Jesus. Thank God for his good grace and performing such acts to allow the prophesies of the Old Testament to occur in the New Testament – so we can have eternal life.

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