There appeared to him an angel of the Lord .... And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said to him, "Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great before the Lord. ..." And Zechariah said to the angel, "How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years." (Luke 1:11a, 12-15a, 18)
Sometimes you have to wonder about God's timing. Zechariah and Elizabeth had prayed for a baby for so many years. Every month they hoped, and every month they were disappointed. When menopause came, they figured it was over. God had said no. Time to concentrate on other parts of life.
Then, bang! A baby. The angel gives the news so rapidly: "Your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John." And, and, and—Zechariah is still trying to wrap his mind around the concept of a baby—a baby now.
It's no surprise that it took Zechariah a while for the news to sink in. And then the first words out of his mouth are basically, "Seriously? Prove it to me."
Bad move, Zechariah. But what a human move. Because while we know God is a God of surprises, somehow we never expect Him to surprise us ... like that. By sending a couple a baby in their old age. By sending a virgin a baby at any age! By sending us Jesus, His own Son—to be that baby, lying in a lowly manger, come into this world to take on the devil with all His power—and win.
Who sends a baby to save the world? God does. Our God, who loves us and gives Himself for us.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, help me to cope when You bring surprises into my life. Amen.
* Have you ever taken care of a newborn? What was it like?
* Who do you sympathize more with—doubting Zechariah or the doubted angel?
* When has God surprised you?
Advent Devotions were written by Dr. Kari Vo.