Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

Annunciation to Zechariah

Rev. Dr. Philip Varghese
Sinai Mar Thoma Center, NY
13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John.

In Kerala, every year, we read about the selection of Hajj pilgrims to Mecca. Since the quota is far below the number of applicants, selection is made by lot. The result brings joy for some and disappointment for many. It may be that some may never get a chance to go on pilgrimage

Zechariah had two unfulfilled ambitions in life; (1) To serve in the Temple of God and (2) To receive a child from God.

After a long wait, the first one was accomplished. Since there were 24 divisions of the descendants of Aaron as priests (1 Chronicles 24:1-19), and each division had about 900  priests in Zechariah's time, it was not possible for all the priests to serve in the Temple at least once in their lifetime. Then, in the midst of hope and despair, in his old age, he got a chance to serve. But the second seemed to remain unfulfilled.

(a)Don't try to put a limit to God's plan, power and providence
He must have lost hope of having a child because, according to human calculations  both Zechariah and Elizabeth had passed the age for having children in their family life(v.7). The history of Israel shows that the three Patriarchs, Abraham (Genesis 16:1), Isaac (Genesis 25:21) and Jacob(Genesis 30:1) had to wait for a long time before being blessed with a child.

Now at the end of the Old Testament period we read about another long wait by Zechariah and Elizabeth for the gift of a child as the forerunner of the New Testament period.

Even though he had been praying for long and had  lost hope, now in the Temple, Zechariah must have felt the pain and disappointment of  praying for a child. Then the unexpected happens at the very place it should happen, the altar. When he sees the angel, he is gripped with fear. But the angel asks him not to be afraid and says that his prayer has been heard by God. We read in the Acts of the Apostles that when the angel of the Lord freed Peter from prison, the believers who were praying for his release could not believe it (Acts 12:12-15).  Is our prayer casual or is it really serious? We too pray for many things, but do we expect an answer soon or later?

(b) Do not lose hope; have patience and perseverance.
We live in a time when we don't have the patience to wait. We want everything at the click of a button. Our impatience results in anxiety and tension at home as well as at our place of work. Don't expect that everything should happen according to our calculations and plan. Wait patiently for God's time. Even after the angel mentioned clearly about the child to be born, including the name to be given, John (God is gracious), Zechariah could not believe it. He appears to be pessimistic.

(c) In the busy schedule of life find time to be silent and to listen to God
At the end of his service, Zechariah had to pronounce the priestly blessings.(Numbers6:24-26). But he could not speak. How can a priest who doubts God's promises and power, pronounce His blessings to the people? The sudden feeling of fear at the sight of an angel along with the joy of hearing the good news, made him mute for a while. We may interpret it as God's punishment, but silence is a God given opportunity for introspection and re-dedication. 


Lord my prayer has often become mere utterance of some familiar and meaningless words and phrases. Help me to pray sincerely with a contrite heart and a willing spirit. Amen

When I pray, do I sincerely believe that, sooner or later God will give me a definite answer; no matter what it is, am I ready to accept it?

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