Luke 1: “Sounds Familiar”

I’m sure, like me, you’ve been walking around the mall, sitting in a coffee shop, or driving in the car, and suddenly you recognize the music playing in the background. You listen more intently and begin to think to yourself, this sounds familiar. You listen with more intensity and begin think back when or where you’ve heard this song before. Well, that’s exactly what I thought when I started to read Luke 1.

Because the hope of these reflections is to go deeper in the daily reading, I began to look at the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth with a fresh set of eyes. It didn’t take long for the Holy Spirit to prompt my heart to listen to the familiar song playing in the background of the reading.

Luke 1:6 (NLT) Zechariah and Elizabeth were righteous in God’s eyes, careful to obey all of the Lord’s commandments and regulations. They had no children because Elizabeth was unable to conceive, and they were both very old. (NLT)   

I literally wrote in the margin of my bible “Sounds Familiar,” because the beginning of this story is similar to the beginning of another story found in Genesis 17.

Second Verse, Same as the First

It shouldn’t be surprising that the birth of John the Baptist would sound strangely familiar to Abraham and Sarah’s story and birth of Isaac in Genesis. As we’ve already read, Zechariah and Elizabeth were righteous in God’s eyes, and were careful to obey the Lord’s commands. However, an interesting fact about these two is not just their commitment to God, but also their age and inability to have children.

It’s amazing when you look back and compare the story of Abraham and Sarah and the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth.

Both Received a Message from God:

(Abraham) Genesis 15:1 1Some time later, the Lord spoke to Abram in a vision and said to him, “Do not be afraid, Abram, for I will protect you, and your reward will be great.”

(Zechariah) Luke 1:11-13 11 While Zechariah was in the sanctuary, an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the incense altar. 12 Zechariah was shaken and overwhelmed with fear when he saw him. 13 But the angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayer.

Both Were Unsure of God’s Promise:

(Sarah) Genesis 18:10-12 (NLT) 10 Then one of them said, “I will return to you about this time next year, and your wife, Sarah, will have a son!”

Sarah was listening to this conversation from the tent. 11 Abraham and Sarah were both very old by this time, and Sarah was long past the age of having children. 12 So she laughed silently to herself and said, “How could a worn-out woman like me enjoy such pleasure, especially when my master—my husband—is also so old?”

(Zechariah) Luke 1:18 1Zechariah said to the angel, “How can I be sure this will happen? I’m an old man now, and my wife is also well along in years.”

Both had the Opportunity to Fulfill the Covenant:

(Abraham) Genesis 17:7 (NLT) “I will confirm my covenant with you and your descendants after you, from generation to generation. This is the everlasting covenant: I will always be your God and the God of your descendants after you.

(Zechariah) Luke 1:67-79 (NLT) 67 Then his father, Zechariah, was filled with the Holy Spirit and gave this prophecy:

68 “Praise the Lord, the God of Israel,
    because he has visited and redeemed his people.
69 He has sent us a mighty Savior
    from the royal line of his servant David,
70 just as he promised
    through his holy prophets long ago.
71 Now we will be saved from our enemies
    and from all who hate us.
72 He has been merciful to our ancestors
    by remembering his sacred covenant—
73 the covenant he swore with an oath
    to our ancestor Abraham.
74 We have been rescued from our enemies
    so we can serve God without fear,
75 in holiness and righteousness
    for as long as we live.

76 “And you, my little son,
    will be called the prophet of the Most High,
    because you will prepare the way for the Lord.
77 You will tell his people how to find salvation
    through forgiveness of their sins.
78 Because of God’s tender mercy,
    the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us,
79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
    and to guide us to the path of peace.”

The God of Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

God begins with Abram to reveal his covenantal promises in the Old Testament. It’s in the New Testament that we find God fulfilling all those promises in His son Jesus. The amazing thing is God didn’t stop there! Through the power of the Holy Spirit we too have the opportunity to “prepare the way way for the Lord.” John prepared the way for Jesus, the Messiah, to come. We have the opportunity to prepare the way for Jesus, the Messiah, to return.