Tuesday, November 30
God’s direction is sometimes glaringly succinct, his voice unmistakable. “Talk to your neighbor…NOW!” Or as with Peter by the sea, “Follow me.”
But Gabriel’s charge to Zechariah is full of detail. His essential announcement could have been condensed: “Don’t be afraid. God has heard your prayers. You and Elizabeth will have a son.” But as we soon discover, Zechariah desperately needs more nitty-gritty information, and we know it wasn’t a mere brief chat because people waiting outside the Temple were getting worried when Priest Z didn’t exit according to schedule.
Becoming parents past the age of child-bearing is miracle enough, but Gabriel delivers the whole load: the child’s anti-cultural name (under normal circumstances, he would unquestionably be ‘Zachariah Junior’), the joy the child will bring, and details of his spiritual destiny.
In spite of the “This Is Your Life” announcement, Zechariah asks for more verification. How can I be sure of this? I’m almost ready to give Zechariah a pass at this point, but Gabriel steps in with thundering authority: “I AM GABRIEL…God has sent me. Pay attention!”
Stories in scripture and history are full of people who question God, and soon in Luke’s detailed account, we will read of Mary’s own query. Questions aren’t inherently wrong. But there are also circumstances when it’s time to stop the questions, time to listen, trust, and obey. Without answers. A lesson Zechariah will have nine quiet months to learn. What questions are you asking? Or is it time to listen?