“By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” – Luke 1:78-79
Luke’s gospel begins by telling us about a priest named Zechariah. Zechariah was visited by an angel and told that he will have a son who would turn people’s hearts back to the Lord and prepare the way for the Messiah. Because Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth are older and haven’t had any children up to this point, Zechariah doubts that this is possible. In response to his doubt, the angel tells Zechariah that he will be unable to speak until the birth of this baby.
Zechariah was a priest, he loved and followed God. Yet, he struggled with trusting that God would actually come through for him. But in losing his speech, every time he wanted to speak and was unable to, he is reminded of what God had promised to him. He is reminded of God’s actions in his own life and the life of all of Israel. He thinks back on all the times where God has proved to be faithful. He is reminded of God’s promise to send a messiah.
When Zechariah’s son is born, he regains his speech and immediately sings a song of praise to God which reflects this deepened understanding of the character of God. Today’s verses come from that song.
The older we get, the more we think we know. We are tempted to ignore opinions we disagree with and sometimes we’re even tempted to write off people we disagree with. Zechariah’s loss of speech put him in a position where all he could do was listen, reflect, and observe. He came out of that time establishing trust in God at a level that he otherwise would have never reached.
Zechariah reminds me that no matter how well we think we know God, there is more to learn about God. That each day provides us the opportunity for a deepened relationship with God and the opportunity to sing God’s praises to the people around us.