I. From fear and doubt to trust and praise
As I mentioned earlier, Zacharias was a servant of the Lord. He had duties to perform as a priest of the Lord. While he was performing those duties, Zacharias had a life changing encounter.
8 Now it happened that while he was performing his priestly service before God in the appointed order of his division,
9 according to the custom of the priestly office, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense.
10 And the whole multitude of the people were in prayer outside at the hour of the incense offering.
11 And an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the altar of incense.
12 Zacharias was troubled when he saw the angel, and fear gripped him.
13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will give him the name John.
14 “You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth.
15 “For he will be great in the sight of the Lord; and he will drink no wine or liquor, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother’s womb.
16 “And he will turn many of the sons of Israel back to the Lord their God.
17 “It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, TO TURN THE HEARTS OF THE FATHERS BACK TO THE CHILDREN, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” (Luke 1)
I do not know about you but I imagine that I would respond the same way that Zacharias did when he encountered an angel of the Lord. Zacharias was afraid and rightfully so. During this encounter with an angel of the Lord, Zacharias learned that he was going to have a son and he discovered some amazing things about his son. First of all, his son was named by God. Usually parents choose the name of the child yet, in this case, God chooses the name of Zacharias’ son. Zacharias’ son is going to be named John. This child is going to bring joy and gladness, not only to his parents, but also to the people of Israel. This child is going to be filled with the Holy Spirit from the time that he is in the womb. The angel even explains how the children will bring joy and gladness by preparing the people for the coming of the Messiah and by preparing the way for the Messiah. This child will also preach a message that will point people to the Messiah and the Messiah will turn the people back to the Lord. What father would not want to learn of this amazing news about his son? How is Zacharias going to respond to this news?
18 Zacharias said to the angel, “How will I know this for certain? For I am an old man and my wife is advanced in years.”
19 The angel answered and said to him, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news.
20 “And behold, you shall be silent and unable to speak until the day when these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their proper time.” (Luke 1)
Unfortunately, Zacharias doubted the Word of God. So, he went from fear to doubt. Zacharias is going the wrong direction, if you have not already noticed. That’s bad news but, there is good news in this story. God is full of mercy and grace. He does not give Zacharias what he deserves and He gives Zacharias what he does not deserve, a second chance. That’s amazing news for Zacharias and for you and me as well.
59 And it happened that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to call him Zacharias, after his father.
60 But his mother answered and said, “No indeed; but he shall be called John.”
61 And they said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who is called by that name.”
62 And they made signs to his father, as to what * he wanted him called.
63 And he asked for a tablet and wrote as follows, “His name is John.” And they were all astonished.
64 And at once his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he began to speak in praise of God.
65 Fear came on all those living around them; and all these matters were being talked about in all the hill country of Judea.
66 All who heard them kept them in mind, saying, “What then will this child turn out to be?” For the hand of the Lord was certainly with him. (Luke 1)
Zacharias sees the faithfulness of God even in the midst of his own fears and doubts. He obeys the Word of God by naming the boy John, just as God had said to do. Zacharias has gone from fear and doubt to faith and trust. Now, once Zacharias is able to speak again, he praises the Lord. Through God’s mercy, grace, and faithfulness, we have gone from fear and doubt to trust and praise. If God can do this in the life of Zacharias, you know that He can do the same for you and for me.
II. Trust leads to salvation
Now that Zacharias trusts the Lord, he is filled with the Holy Spirit and he begins to bless the Lord for bringing salvation to mankind.
67 And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying:
68 “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, For He has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people,
69 And has raised up a horn of salvation for us In the house of David His servant –
70 As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from of old –
71 Salvation FROM OUR ENEMIES, And FROM THE HAND OF ALL WHO HATE US;
72 To show mercy toward our fathers, And to remember His holy covenant,
73 The oath which He swore to Abraham our father, (Luke 1)
This coming Messiah is going to offer redemption to those who are enslaved to sin. This coming Messiah is going to offer rescue to those who are enslaved to sin. This coming Messiah is going to offer the mercy of God to those who are stuck in their sin. This coming Messiah is going to fulfill the promises that the Lord made to Abraham almost 2,000 years before Zacharias’ lifetime. This coming Messiah is going to fulfill the promises that the Lord made to Adam and Eve almost 4,000 years before Zacharias’ lifetime. Zacharias had experienced the mercy, grace, and salvation of the Lord and he was excited to see everyone have the opportunity to experience them. Have you experienced the mercy, grace, and salvation of the Lord? Do you seek to share these amazing truths with others the way that Zacharias did? Zacharias passed this same mentality on to his own son, John. The salvation of the Lord led Zacharias to serve others and John applied the same truths to his own life.
III. Salvation leads to service
Zacharias pronounces a blessing over the life of his own son, John. This is while he is full of the Holy Spirit, singing praises to the Lord because of His mercy, grace, and salvation.
76 “And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; For you will go on BEFORE THE LORD TO PREPARE HIS WAYS;
77 To give to His people the knowledge of salvation By the forgiveness of their sins,
78 Because of the tender mercy of our God, With which the Sunrise from on high will visit us,
79 TO SHINE UPON THOSE WHO SIT IN DARKNESS AND THE SHADOW OF DEATH, To guide our feet into the way of peace.” (Luke 1)
Zacharias prophesies a lifestyle of service over the life of his son, John. This child is going to grow to become a prophet of the Most High God (El Elion). John is going to serve the Lord by preparing the way for the Messiah. John is going to point others to the One who offers salvation. John is going to point others to the One who offers forgiveness of sins. John is going to point others to the One who is the manifestation of the mercy of God. John is going to light the way for the One who leads us out of the shadow of death (sin). John is going to spend his life serving the Lord by serving others. This is what faith in the Lord does to us. It leads us away from fear and doubt to salvation. That salvation produces praise and service in our daily lives. Are you struggling with fear and doubt or, are you walking in the faith that produces praise and service?