How long had it been since Zechariah had prayed that prayer, begging the Author of Life for a child of his own? How long since he and Elizabeth had fallen asleep in their tears, crying out from their barrenness. How long since he’d prayed for that child, that piece of hope for their personal darkness?
It had been hundreds of years since God had let His voice be heard. Four hundred years since He’d spoken through Malachi to remind His children, the people of Israel about their covenant relationship — warning them that He knew their sin, that He saw their sinful ways and would hold them accountable.
No wonder Zechariah had all but given up on His requests for that son. No wonder he doubted when Gabriel revealed the very voice and hand of God Himself as he spoke those words of promise there at the altar.
“Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son . . .” (Lk 1:13).
That sacrifice he offered — it symbolized God’s ears. The God who hears would accept the incense offering from His people, even as He spoke the words Zechariah had waited so long to hear.
“Your prayer has been heard . . .” (v13).
But Zechariah couldn’t believe it. In fact, before Jesus arrived, all Zechariah had left was doubt that the God who hears and accepts that incense offering had actually heard the cries of his heart.
Then Mary, pregnant with the Son of God in the form of a womb-ridden infant, walked Jesus Christ into Zechariah’s house. And everything changed.
His son John was born and his tongue was loosed and the doubt of Zechariah’s heart was transformed into praise for the Almighty.
“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel . . .” (v68).
The benediction Zechariah had been expected to give after that day at the altar, but couldn’t because of his tied-up tongue, could finally be delivered. Can you imagine the joy behind that blessing song? What a difference Jesus made even before He was born! What joy He brought before He ever emerged into that stall that night in Bethlehem!
Has Jesus made that kind of difference in your life? When Jesus steps in, doubt falls prey to joy and blessing. We see it with Zechariah. Have we let Him make such a change in us? Can you celebrate with joy the truth of Jesus Christ, the God who hears?