Monday, September 14, 2009
I'm planning on starting a teaching series on Luke's Gospel around Christmas, so I decided to blog my way through it as a devotional exercise, kind of like I did with Hebrews.
But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will 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 for the Lord a people prepared.”
John's role was to prepare God's people for what He was getting ready to do. This plan was truly going to be good news, but the way it would come about would baffle everyone. It would be truly subversive in nature. As I read this again, I'm astounded at the company that God keeps. He goes to a priest, yes, but it's a priest with flaws. This priest, Zechariah, cannot pass down his priesthood to a son. He and his wife, Elizabeth, have never been able to have a child, and at this point, they are too old.
I love Mary's visit to see Elizabeth. There is nothing special about these two, yet the Most High God decides to include them in His plan for redeeming the world. I think this scene is a great picture of the immanence and creativity of God. God is in their midst in a beautiful and profound way.
John's father, Zechariah, was disciplined by God for not believing that his wife Elizabeth could become pregnant. This seems a little severe, but part of preparation for this plan was, and still is today, faith. Do we believe that God can do the impossible (Lk. 1:37)?
Neighborhood Church is going to participating in The Advent Conspiracy for the third year, and the tag line that resonates with me so much is "Christmas was meant to change the world." Christmas did change the world, and Christmas does change the world, but it's changed as God's people partner with Him in His plan of redemption.
Oh Great God, how easy it is to miss what You are doing in our world. How easy it is to miss what You are doing in my life. You don't work the way I think You ought to work. You don't always use the people I expect for You to use. Help me to see things as You see them. Help me to see people as You see them. And help me to be prepared for the work that You are going to do. I don't want to miss it. Help me to believe with everything in me that absolutely nothing is impossible for You.