Elaine Duncan, Chief Executive of Scottish Bible Society reflects on the story of Zechariah, his faith, his hope and his doubt in Luke’s gospel:
All of us at the Scottish Bible Society want to say a big thank you to you for the many ways that you have partnered with us over this past year. You have been a key part of the story of people in different countries, including Scotland, connecting with God through the Bible.
This advent I’ve been thinking a lot about Zachariah, the father of John the Baptist. Quite a bit of Luke Chapter One focuses on Zechariah the priest, and I think he’s a model of hope restored.
He obviously wasn’t expecting the connection with God he had on that particularly big day in his career. The angel Gabriel appears and assures him that his prayers have been heard and his wife, Elizabeth, is to have a son.
This son will be special because he will be filled with the Holy Spirit and will prepare people for the Lord.
It’s no great surprise that Zechariah doubts Gabriel’s words as he’s old and Elizabeth is old.
I wonder when they noted that the biological clock had ticked its last and they stopped praying for a child. God had not forgotten their prayers. Of course, the prayer being answered was not just a personal and private prayer.
As a priest, Zechariah would’ve regularly prayed for the redemption of God’s people. He would’ve prayed for the promised Messiah to come. What is happening is also the beginning of that prayer being answered.
Gabriel takes Zechariah’s doubt seriously and is unable to speak. Until the baby is born. His doubt is calling to question God’s ability to reverse the natural cause of things and to recreate. But our redemption depends on the resurrection of Jesus Christ and new birth in him. So Is Zecharaiah judged because he’s doubting the basis of the whole gospel?
Zechariah and Elizabeth have been caught up in God’s bigger story of salvation. They thought their moment had passed, that they had missed their opportunity. God had other ideas and their son would be the one who would announce the coming of the new King.
Zechariah’s doubt is changed to trust in God, which leads to hope. What encouragement to us this Christmas. Is there something or someone that you’ve stopped praying for? Are you remembering that your personal story is also caught up in God’s bigger story of salvation? We each have our part to play in announcing that Jesus has come and will come again.
New life and a new start is possible because of Jesus. John the Baptist pointed people to Jesus. Every time you partner with us and enable someone to have the Bible, you’re doing the same as Zechariah and Elizabeth’s son. What a privilege for us to help people know the tender mercy of our God.
Here at SBS We’re excited about next year. God has been leading us to new ways of telling the story of the impact that the Bible has on people’s lives. Together with you, we want to share the Bible with as many people as possible and see God continue to work out his great plan of salvation.
And may the Lord Jesus, give each of us opportunities this Christmas to share hope with those around us because “the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”