Today the Church commemorates Zacharias and Elizabeth, the parents of St. John the Baptist. Our devotional reading comes from Meditations on the Gospels: According to His Word.
Whenever the Lord aimed to do something extraordinary for His people, He prepared them for it by prophecy and preliminary signs and wonders. When the time was come that Israel was to be delivered from the bondage of Egypt, God sent Moses and Aaron, who with signs and wonders gradually gained the confidence of the Hebrews and moved Pharaoh to let Israel go.
It is not surprising, therefore, that the beginning of the New Testament era was signalized with miraculous events. Angels appeared to announce the birth of Messiah’s forerunner and of Christ Himself. John was born of elderly parents who had long ago given up the hope of having a son. Jesus was born of a virgin. Zacharias became mute and didn’t speak again until his son was born. Christ’s birth was proclaimed by an angel and angel choirs sang His welcome. All this was to show that God walked on the earth and to call on people to note His footsteps.
In those depraved days, Zacharias and Elizabeth were models of sincere piety. Diligently and persistently, they called on God in prayer. It is much more difficult to wait quietly than to go forward when the call is to act. But God listened, and we, too, are heard.
How long had Zacharias and Elizabeth waited and prayed! And at last—isn’t it ironic?—at last the angel announced the fulfillment, but Zacharias would not believe. We cry to the Lord; we anxiously wait for His answer; and then, when the call comes to go forward into the land of promise, our faith fails us; we limp and stumble when we should run and not be weary. O Lord, increase our faith!
Such unbelief deserves chastisement. Yet the Lord is gracious even when He chastises. His promise is that all trials will come to an end when they have accomplished their purpose. Let us learn the lesson to bow under the chastening rod and never doubt that all things work together for good for those who love God.
Devotional reading is adapted from Meditations on the Gospels: According to His Word, page 388–390 © 2009 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.
O God, who alone knits all infants in the womb, You chose improbable servants—old and childless—to conceive and parent the forerunner of Christ and, in so doing, demonstrated again Your strength in weakness. Grant us, who are as unlikely and unworthy as Zacharias and Elizabeth, the opportunity to love and serve You according to Your good and gracious will; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, now and forever.
Prayer is from the Treasury of Daily Prayer, page 693 © 2012 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.