The Religious Leader Who Should Have Had Good Ears


In our last post, we learned how Mary, Jesus’ mother, had good ears, was ready to hear, and receive what God had to say. You might say, “Well, it’s pretty easy to hear God, listen, and receive what He has to say if an angel shows up and delivers the message!”

That may make sense, but we have a pretty profound example of the opposite in the Christmas story. Zechariah was married to Elizabeth, Mary’s relative (possibly a cousin) and was a priest. Elizabeth was also born from the priestly lineage, so this was a very religiously connected couple! It makes the contrast of Zechariah’s response that much more striking!

Check out Luke 1:11-23 in The Message.

Similar to what happened with Mary, the same angel (we don’t know his name yet) appeared and started off with very positive news for a man married to a woman who had been unable to conceive:

“Your prayer has been heard. Elizabeth, your wife, will bear a son by you. You are to name him John” (Luke 1:13).

The angel goes on to give what seems to be more good news:

  • He’ll be filled with the Holy Spirit from birth.
  • He’ll cause a lot of Jews to return to God.
  • He’ll have the style and strength of the prophet Elijah.
  • He’ll be a blessing to families.
  • Overall, he’ll help prepare people for God.

You’d expect more from such a religious man—but check out his response:“Zachariah said to the angel, “Do you expect me to believe this? I’m an old man and my wife is an old woman” (Luke 1:18).

The angel—obviously a bit put off—steps it up a notch. He throws out his name (Gabriel) and job title (sentinel of God) and basically says, “Since you are hearing me so well, you are going to be tongue tied from now ’til little Johnny is born.” Bummer.

Let’s bring it home. Is your heart inclined towards hearing God? Do you set aside time to reflect and listen for Him to speak? When He does speak to you, how do you handle what He has to say?

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