During this Christmas season, I get so excited about the Bethlehem scene in Luke 2 — the angel, the manger, the shepherds, Mary, Joseph, the wise men AND sweet baby Jesus’s birth. This year I am so pumped also about the chapter before — Luke 1. I see a story of struggle and God’s miracle. The kind of story I love. The kind of story I live and to which I can relate.
Three of my favorite verses are found throughout this Luke 1 chapter. I never realized how much was in that chapter foretelling John the Baptist’s and Jesus’ birth.
Zechariah was a priest and his wife Elizabeth had not been able to get pregnant. An angel appeared to Zechariah and told him not to be afraid (if I saw an angel, I’d be afraid also) and that his prayer had been heard. I love that.
The angel told him he would have a son and to name him John.
“He will be a joy and delight to you and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord … and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth.” (Luke 1:14, 15)
Zechariah doubted the angel, asking:
“How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.” (Luke 1:18)
Ouch. How many times do I doubt God’s promises, God’s goodness, God’s faithfulness? My “soul holes” of doubt speak louder than my faith.
Because Zechariah doubted, he was struck silent for her whole pregnancy. People in the temple could tell he had seen a vision. He made signs with his hands but could not speak. His sweet wife Elizabeth became pregnant and remained in seclusion for five months. Her response was, “The Lord has done this for me.” (Luke 1:25)
Amen. What profound gratitude.
Six months into Elizabeth’s pregnancy, the angel Gabriel visits Elizabeth’s young relative Mary in a little town of Nazareth. The angel Gabriel told Mary she would give birth to a son named Jesus.
“He will be great and will be called Son of the most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David … His Kingdom will never end.” (Luke 1:32, 33b.)
Mary asked the angel how it would happen since she was a virgin. The angel’s response is so encouraging: “Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.” (Luke 1:36, 37)
AMEN! Mary’s response is one of my favorite in the entire Bible: “‘I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.’ Then the angel left her.” (Luke 1:38)
Can you imagine being 13 or 14 years old, as Mary was and having the kind of Spirit-filled faith to be that obedient? She is such an inspiring testament of faith.
Then Mary went to visit Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s voice, the baby inside of her leaped and Elizabeth was filled with the holy Spirit. Elizabeth encouraged Mary, saying in a LOUD voice: “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the child you will bear!” (Luke 1:42)
Elizabeth declared another one of my favorite verses: “Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!” (Luke 1:45)
Friend, what can we learn from this passage so full of miracles and wisdom?
1) God hears our prayers. The angel affirmed Zechariah first by saying his prayer had been heard. Every prayer is heard, no matter how short the prayers are and how desperately we cry out to God.
2) Whatever in our life seems “barren,” God provides life in that barren spot. Nothing is impossible with God. For me it’s my singleness. God fills my “barren spot” and heart’s desire for a husband. You may have a “barren” relationship or a yearning for a child. God fills that soul hole, even on days that are hard, especially at Christmas.
3) May we always give God the praise. Like Elizabeth who had prayed for years to be pregnant, “The Lord has done this for me.” All comes from Him.
4) May we have the humility and faith like Mary to be totally obedient. Not only did she say she was the Lord’s servant. She declared her total surrender. “May it be to me as you have said.”
Oh, I pray so for me and you also. Total surrender.
It was for Mary. It will be for us also if we surrender our will. May Thy will, not my will, be done.
Merry Christmas, friend.
Reflect: What seems “barren” in your life? What seems impossible? Please comment; What prayers do you want God to hear? Keep praying. He hears them all.
Renew: “And Mary said: ‘My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for He has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me —holy is His name.” (Luke 1: 46-49)
Danya M. Jordan’s recent debut non-fiction work caps 18 years of Bible studies and church leadership, 20-plus years of writing and speaking and practically a lifetime of hilarious and provoking storytelling. Her mission statement is one word — “Shine!” — based on Matthew 5:16. Based out of Matthews, N.C., her “day job” is a high calling as executive director of donor development for international faith-based Proverbs 31 Ministries (proverbs31.org) at which she loves serving as a “blessings broker.” She may be reached at Danya@proverbs31.org.