Wednesday, November 16

Preparing the Way (part 2)

Read Luke 1:57-80

Read Part One

“Then details you shall have.” He turns toward her, and drops his voice, “It was a dark and stormy night—“


“Alright! I give up!

“You know how nervous I was that day. When the lot fell to me, it was as if the hand of Yaweh himself chose me to enter His presence. I stood there in front of the alter. I nearly forgot the words I was supposed to speak, I was so overcome by being in the Holy of Holies. Then, out of nowhere, a man appeared. I was horrified at first. How had he gotten in? Then I was terrified. Had I done something wrong? Was I about to be punished? But he told me not to be afraid. That my prayers had been answered. I was relieved, thinking I had indeed performed the ritual correctly. But then he said, “you will have a son.”

“He did not!”

“He did.”

“What did you say?”

With a derisive half chuckles, he continues, “I said, ‘How can this be? My wife and I are too old!’ The look on his face, Elizabeth! The look on his face made me think for a moment that he had changed his mind. Not that I understood in the first place. But he spoke again.

“You will,” he said. “But you will be in silence until the appointed time.” At that moment, I heard what sounded like a roaring waterfall, then nothing. The man was gone. The holy place empty with just the smoke of the offering rising toward heaven. I stepped out to give the proclamation to the people, and when I opened my mouth, nothing came out. I saw the people’s mouths moving, but could hear nothing. Nothing at all.”

In the tone only a very loved wife can get away with, Elizabeth interrupts, “You questioned an angel? You, a high priest doubted his words?”

“I did, Elizabeth. I did.”

They both sit in the quiet for a moment. At last she admits the truth. “Had you told me a moment sooner in my pregnancy, I would not have believed you. By the time you told me, the truth was undeniable.” She wanted to know and tell so much. She wanted to fill him in on every detail of her miraculous pregnancy and how it felt to finally be free from the judgement of all those people subtly accusing her, them, of some secret sin that kept them barren for so long. But now was not the time for that.

“What did you mean tonight,” she asks, “when you spoke over our son? You talked about the Messiah, and you said our son would be a prophet?”

Zacharias nods. “The angel told me our son would be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he was born. That he will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord. He said he would have spirit and power like the great prophet Elijah.

She knows she should be thrilled with this news, but she can’t help but remember the stories. Surely he was a great man of God but… “Like Elijah? You say that like it’s a good thing. He was nearly killed by a wicked king. Is that what you see in our son’s future?”

He reaches for her hand. “You are missing the point Elizabeth. He said our son would prepare the way for the Messiah. That is what I have been doing at the temple. I have been reading the prophesies. I believe the Messiah is coming soon and our son is the one Isaiah spoke of crying out in the desert.”

“You cannot be serious.” She drops his hand so she can gesture with both of hers.

“And why not?”

“Because he’s a baby, Zacharias! A tiny, red fisted, bald little baby! Not a desert dwelling prophet. He will be raised as a priest, by a priest in the temple.”

“You are right, Elizabeth, He is a baby. A child who removed our disgrace and who will bring us immeasurable joy. We had both closed our hearts to this possibility, but here it is. Here he is. A sign. A wonder. A miracle. He is a gift from Yahweh. It is up to Him what becomes of the son He has given us.”

She bites her lip, another argument on the tip of her tongue. But his words hit their mark. “You are right, Zacharias. He holds my heart so tightly already. I can’t bear to think of what kind of life he has ahead of him.”

Side by side, they watch the fire and they wonder what Yahweh has planned for their son.

Zacharias and Elizabeth’s red faced baby boy grew up to eat locusts and honey, and was so close to God, that he could literally pick his son out of a line up. He grew to maturity in the desert, not in the temple gates, so it is likely that his parents passed away when he was still young. He, like Elijah, was hunted by a wicked king. He preached a revolutionary message and baptized people for the first time on record. And he became the voice of one calling in the desert “prepare the way for the Lord.”

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