If we were to read through the whole of Luke, one of the key themes you may notice, is the way Luke cares for women, sharing and highlighting their story in a culture that consistently diminishes their humanity. The story of Zechariah and Elizabeth is no exception, with a contrasting response as they each learn of Elizabeth’s pregnancy.
“Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.”” (Lk 1:18).
Although Zechariah’s life is one marked by righteousness, here the man lacks the faith to believe the message from God, and leans towards disbelief.
“The angel said to him, "I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God…"” (Lk 1:19
Surely this should be a sign enough for Zechariah. But no… Instead, as both a sign of validity, and also a rebuke for his lack of faith, Zechariah is now mute until the birth of his child.
I guess you can already see the contrast between Zechariah and his wife’s response…
"“The Lord has done this for me,” she said. “In these days he has shown his favour and taken away my disgrace among the people.”” (Lk 1:25).
While both are marked as righteous, Zechariah moves from favoured to disgraced (due to his disbelief). Elizabeth declares however, that where she was once disgraced among the people, she now senses God’s favour upon her life. To be barren was a constant source of shame, and often understood as a means of judgment for unfaithfulness.
It's amazing that while John plays an important role within God’s salvation plan, he also plays an equally important role just for Elizabeth. As God unfolds his plan, we find his care for the individual is just as specific as his care for the whole world, as a righteous, childless couple find their prayer for a child answered by a God who had long been silent.
Questions To Reflect Upon
Do you most naturally connect with God’s care for the individual or the world?
Do you need to spend time in prayer for something that you have been longing for?
Is there anything that God is calling you to trust Him right now in your own life?