Herald of the Messiah - Luke 1:13-22
Zachariah was in the temple ministering when angel Gabriel appeared. He was startled and gripped with fear but the angel told him not to be afraid, that his prayer had been heard.
Zechariah's wife would bear a son, and not just that, the angel told him the name the son was to bear -John. John means "Jehovah is gracious".
As you look at the people that God called in the Scriptures, you will find that He speaks to them while they are busy doing their daily tasks -Gideon was threshing wheat, Moses and Amos were busy with their shepherd tasks when the Lord spoke to them.
The appearance of angel Gabriel frightened Zechariah because naturally in the Scriptures when angels appear to men, the thought was that of divine judgment. However, in this case, the angel gave a word of assurance to Zachariah. He said to him "fear not", a phrase that is repeated (Luke 1:18, 2:10. Isaiah 35:4; 41:10,13; 43:1).
When the angel said that Zechariah's prayer had been answered, he must have been excited. Good news brings joy. It is also obvious that God is a God of purpose and a God of order; nothing was hidden from the Priest as he allowed Zechariah to know why John will come into the world. The boy was to be dedicated to God and will be a Nazirite all his life (Number 6:1-21). The Spirit of the Lord will be on him even before his birth and he will be a prophet to God and the prophet that will present Jesus to the nation of Israel. So the ministry of John was to turn people back to God just as Isaiah prophesied in Isaiah 40:1-5.
Surprisingly Zachariah the righteous man was faithless at this time. When the angel spoke to him, one would have thought that the news and the word of God would encourage Zachariah but that did not happen. What the Priest saw was himself, his old age, his wife's old age and the fact that their bodies seem to be dead. He seemed to require some assurance and there is no assurance that is greater than the assurance of God's word and God's messenger -the angel Gabriel. The son to be born, who was a special son, was a part of the redemption story through whom prophecies are being fulfilled. The coming of John would later introduce Jesus Christ to the nation of Israel.
There are times in life when we look at our condition, our inabilities, and our weaknesses. Even when God is giving us a direction, we feel incapable and we neither obey him nor trust him. God has a bigger plan; in this case, the plan was to fulfill Jesus Christ's promised coming to redeem man. And the family of Zechariah had a space in that plan. A plan of eternal significance.
God has a plan and a purpose for every human, especially for as many who know him. What is God's plan for your life and what has God committed into your hand?
John's purpose was to herald the coming of the Messiah even though his father had doubts because he looked at himself. Do you look at yourself and your inability? Take a look at the Lord; the Lord is saying I am greater than your weaknesses and your doubts. John's birth was a preparation towards the fulfillment of God's plan of salvation and he had a mission to fulfill which he did fulfill.
What is the mission God has committed into your hands and how are you fulfilling it?