Grow deeper Devotionals
a follow up to Concord Trinity UMC weekly sermon
The week of November 29th
Monday – Read Luke 1:1-10.
What do we learn about Zechariah from these verses? Burning incense in the temple was one of the duties of the priests who numbered in the thousands among the tribes of Israel. Because there were so many priests, the likelihood of being chosen for this sacred honor was about once in a lifetime. How do you think Zechariah was feeling when his name was chosen? The Holy of Holies was a sacred space inside of the temple hidden behind a curtain and could only be entered by righteous priests at appointed times. It was common for the priest chosen to have a rope tied to his leg so that if anything happened to him while in that highly sacred space, he could be pulled back out without anyone needing to enter the sacred space. How would you have felt if you were the one chosen? What mask might Zechariah have been wearing as he prepared to enter the temple to serve on behalf of all the Israelites?
Tuesday – Read Luke 1:11-17.
An angel appears and tells Zechariah that he will be a father in his old age and that his prayers have been heard. Perhaps this prayer was both for a child and for the Messiah to come which was a prayer lifted up by Jews for generations. What kind of child does the angel tell Zechariah that he and Elizabeth will have? In the Jewish tradition there was something called the Nazirite Vow which could be a short-term or long-term commitment to God marked by not cutting one’s hair and by not drinking any alcohol. Zechariah is being told his son will be set apart for a very special purpose. Do you think he was able to process all that was being told him while he was shaking in his shoes from fear? Elijah is mentioned in verse 17. Elijah was a prophet from the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) who was taken up in a chariot of fire to heaven without dying and the Jews expected that Elijah would return someday to announce the coming of the Messiah. What do you think verse 17 means about turning parents toward their children?
Wednesday – Read Luke 1:18-23.
What do you think Zechariah meant by his question in verse 18? How did the angel interpret his question? Zechariah and his wife are both old and beyond normal childbearing years. Wondering how this pregnancy might happen would be a normal thought, but Zechariah doesn’t recognize that the angel is the assurance from God that this will be so. I mean, how many angels do you think he has seen in his life before? By seeing the situation through the mask of disbelief, what was the consequence? Have there been times you doubted God could do something with you or through you because of your age? Zechariah continues his service at the temple following his experience even though he can’t communicate with the others about what exactly happened. Can you imagine what he was thinking as he headed home to share this news with his wife Elizabeth?
Thursday – Read Luke 1:59-66.
Many months later, Zechariah’s wife gives birth to a son and she says to call him John which means that her husband was able to share what happened with her. The family and friends gathered to celebrate this miraculous birth at the circumcision believe the tradition of naming the son after the father should be upheld. What happens when Zechariah confirms that John is to be the name? How do you think all of this built up the faith of those who were witnesses? In verse 65, it sounds like word spread faster than a church phone tree all over the hill country. What do you think the response would be of those in different villages? Do you think Elizabeth and Zechariah were able to live out their lives normally until John the Baptist was old enough to begin his prophetic ministry?
Friday – Read Luke 1:67-79.
In his old age, Zechariah’s disbelief and questioning turns to glorious faith and prophecy. He announces a savior from the house of David is being raised up by God to bring relief to the people and that his son is the prophet to prepare the way of the Lord. As we spend time in this Advent season, a time of waiting and preparation, what masks of disbelief might you be wearing that keep you from seeing how God can make possible the impossible?