“Two Responses : Doubt Vs. Faith” ( Luke 1: 38, HCSB ) by Carley Evans


(Sunday, November 28, 2010 at 1:03pm)

Zechariah, when Gabriel appears to him as he is burning incense to the Lord in the temple, is “startled and overcome with fear.” (Luke 1:12) Mary, when Gabriel appears to her and speaks of God’s favor, is “deeply troubled by [his] statement, wondering what kind of greeting this could be.” (Luke 1:29)

 

When Gabriel tells Zechariah that his barren wife Elizabeth is to bear a son and that they shall call him John, Zechariah responds, “How can I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is well along in years.” (Luke 1:18) Zechariah asks for proof, given his circumstances.

 

When Gabriel tells Mary that she will be with child and bear the “Son of the Most High” (Luke 1:32) Mary asks, “How can this be?” asking to understand the message, given her circumstances. Gabriel explains, “Nothing will be impossible with God.” (Luke 1:34, 37) With the angel’s explanation which Mary readily accepts, she responds, “I am the Lord’s slave. May it be done to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38)

 

Elizabeth later proclaims, “She [that is, Mary] who has believed is blessed because what was spoken to her by the Lord will be fulfilled.” (Luke 1:45)

 

On the other hand, Gabriel proclaims to Zechariah, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and tell you this good news. Now listen! You will become silent and unable to speak until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled at the proper time.” (Luke 1:19-20)

 

Mary immediately acts, visiting Elizabeth so that the unborn children – Jesus and John – may meet even before their births. John leaps in the womb at the presence of His Lord, the One he will go before to prepare the way for the salvation of God’s people.

“A Shout Of Triumph” ( Psalm 95 : 1 – 2, NEB ) by Carley Evans


“Come! Let us raise a joyful song to the Lord, a shout of triumph to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come into His presence with thanksgiving, and sing Him psalms of triumph.”

 

Raise a shout of triumph to the Lord. Our victory is sure because of the Rock of our salvation. Our adversary’s head is crushed under the heel of our Savior.

 

Zechariah sings to John, his unborn son, “And you, my child, you shall be called Prophet of the Highest, for you will be the Lord’s forerunner, to prepare His way and lead His people to salvation through knowledge of Him, by the forgiveness of their sins.” (Luke 1:76-77)

 

Our salvation is secured “by the forgiveness of [our] sins.”

 

The angels — on the night Jesus is born — sing, “Glory to God in highest heaven, and on earth His peace for men on whom His favour rests.” (Luke 2:14)

 

Our salvation is secured by “[God’s] favour.”

 

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has bestowed on us in Christ every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms. In Christ He chose us before the world was founded, to be dedicated, to be without blemish in His sight, to be full of love; and He destined us — such was His will and pleasure — to be accepted as His sons through Jesus Christ, in order that the glory of His gracious gift, so graciously bestowed on us in His Beloved, might redound to His praise.” (Ephesians 1:3-7)

 

Raise a shout of triumph; sing a song of victory for our salvation is secured on the Rock, who is Jesus Christ.

“The Prophet Of The Most High” (Luke 1: 76 – 77, ESV) by Carley Evans


Zechariah sings first to God and then to his unborn son. He sings a song first of praise, then of delight. He sings of joy that his own child will be “called the prophet of the Most High,” and predicts his son “will go before the Lord to prepare His ways.”

John will preach “knowledge of salvation.” He will tell of  “the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” (Luke 1: 78 – 79)

John when he has grown into a man sends two messengers to Jesus to ask, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” Jesus, after healing many, answers: “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by Me.” (Luke 7: 20, 22 – 23)

Before they leave, Jesus asks John’s messengers, “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who are dressed in splendid clothing and live in luxury are in kings’ courts. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is he of whom it is written, ‘Behold, I send my messenger before Your face, who will prepare Your way before You.’ I tell you among those born of women none is greater than John. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” (Luke 7: 24 – 28)

“For God So Loves The World” (Luke 1: 68 – 70, ESV) by Carley Evans


John the Baptist’s father, Zechariah is “filled with the Holy Spirit” as he prophesies that God “has visited and redeemed His people. and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David.”

Zechariah calls us to praise our God. We are to lift our faces to heaven, and remember how much God loves us, how much He sacrificed for us, how much He intercedes for us, how much He covets us.

God “saves [us] from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us; [He] shows the mercy promised to our fathers and [He] remembers His holy covenant, the oath that He swore to our father, Abraham, to grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him all our days.” (Luke 1: 71 – 75)

Zechariah calls us to “serve [God] without fear.” How? We serve God without fear because He loves us. “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4: 10) “By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as He is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because He first loved us.” (1 John 4: 17 – 19)

The author of 1 John calls us to live out this love of God in our lives “in this world.” He writes that “as He is so also are we in this world.” We are to love our brothers and sisters in Christ and call the whole world to Him. We are to ring out the glad tidings, the good news of Jesus Christ, born in Bethlehem, born of a woman from the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit.

Rejoice. Rejoice. I say it again: Rejoice. For God is come.