Day 5 : Old-age and unbelief! (Luke 1:18-20)
Two things stand out in these verses for me. First, Zechariah, and his wife, Elizabeth, are an elderly couple. They come early on in Luke’s account of Christmas, just as two other older people, Simeon and Anna come late in the story (see Luke 2:25-38). I am personally much comforted that these older people are greatly used in the loving purposes of God. I am encouraged to recall the words of the Psalmist (Psalm 92:14), “They will still bear fruit in old-age, they will stay fresh and green…”
Secondly, this is a story of unbelief, for Zechariah, for all that he is a devout and righteous man (Luke 1:6), clearly does not believe in the certain promises of God. Gabriel, who has come from the very presence of God with this message of good news, has already said that Elizabeth will have a child. That seems so incredible to Zechariah that he questions it before Gabriel. (Interestingly, we are told that he was praying for a child. See Luke 1:13. Now that his prayer is to be answered, he does not believe it!) In consequence, Zechariah is struck dumb until the promise comes true.
We are living in a world where many people have very little certainty, and many doubts. Post-modernism teaches us that there is no such thing as truth, everything is relative, and truth is only what is true for you, derived from your feelings, and your experience. If anyone claims to know the truth, to be certain, they are condemned.
Again, I am comforted by this story. We can be sure and certain in the promises of God, that our prayers are heard, that God’s Word is to be trusted. Of course, in the face of all that is around us, that is not easy. But we can resolve, for all the difficulties this unusual Christmas, to speak and act with the certainty that God’s promise of Immanuel, “God with us”, is true.
Good news, indeed!