Luke is a physician who writes this Gospel under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit with the compassion and warmth that you would expect from a family doctor. In our text we find the events surrounding the birth of John the Baptist and the conception of Jesus, the Savior of the world. The focal point in this passage is the message of the angel Gabriel. The angel gives a very practical message to Zacharias, to Mary, and to us today.
First of all, notice Gabriel’s message to Zacharias. We see the angel speaking to Zacharias in verses 5-25. There are three basic lessons that Gabriel teaches here. The first lesson is that God hears our prayers. Zacharias and his wife Elizabeth had no children. They have prayed for years for a child, but in their old age they have resigned to the thought that they would never have children. Zacharias was a priest and served in the temple when it was his appointed time. Many times Zacharias would go and fulfill his duties at the temple, but this time was different. While he is offering incense, the angel Gabriel appears to him. In verse 13 the angel says to Zacharias that his prayer is heard and that he will have a son. Have you ever had a time in your life when you prayed for something for a long time and then just out of the blue, the Lord answers your prayer? This is exactly what Zacharias was experiencing. You see, God does hear our prayers, every one of them. He also answers all our prayers. Even though that answer may not be what we want, He does answer. Sometimes God will answer with a resounding yes or no. Sometimes He will answer through the circumstances of our life. God may also answer our prayers with silence. The fact is, God does hear and answer our prayers. He loves us and He desires that we bring our cares and concerns before Him. He desires that we spend time with Him and include Him in every area of our life. As believers, we should live a life of prayer. We should constantly be in the attitude of prayer, talking with God about everything. Don’t ever give up on God. Keep praying, keep spending time with Him, for He does hear and He does care. Another lesson that Gabriel teaches in his message to Zacharias is that God prepares our hearts. In verse 17, Gabriel explains that the son of Zacharias would serve the purpose of preparing the way for the Lord. It would be the responsibility of John the Baptist to prepare the world for the coming Messiah. It is interesting how God chose to work in such a way. Why was there preparation that had to be made? Could not Jesus come without this season of preparation? This preparation is not because Jesus needed it, but because the people needed it. They were not ready to receive the Messiah. They needed a seed planted in them. Their hearts needed a time of preparation. God does the same for us when it comes to the message of the Gospel. He has prepared all of us to receive Jesus as our Savior. Every human being is wired with the understanding that there is a God and with the capacity to know that God in a real and intimate way. Think about it. This is why the Bible says, “The fool has said in his heart there is no God.” To deny the existence of God is to rebel against one’s own nature. Deep down, every human being knows that God is real. I believe this is why there are so many different religions around the world. Everywhere you go, people worship something. If you find a lost tribe in the deepest and darkest jungle of the world, you will find some type of religion. Why is this? Because we are created with the knowledge that God is real and we seek after Him. Though many do not know the truth, all are seeking for the truth. God also prepares us through the various circumstances of our lives. He is consistently working in us in order to bring glory to Himself. The seed of the Gospel is planted in us as a child. We all know that we are sinners by nature, just like the Bible says. We all know that there is a penalty for sin, and that penalty is death. We all know that we are hopeless and we need a Savior. This is one thing we need to understand when it comes to witnessing to others. People are created with the seed of the Gospel in them. God has prepared them. It is our responsibility to water that seed by pointing them to Jesus. Another message that Gabriel brings to Zacharias is the fact that you are never too old to serve God. In verse 18 we see Zacharias responding with the fact that he and his wife are too old to have children. The angel reassures him that God will indeed give them a child. I have seen many people who are up in years, give up on serving God. They use the excuse that they have served their time and now it is time for a younger person to lead. There is nothing wrong with passing the torch on to others, but when you pass the torch, there is another torch you must grab. As long as your heart is beating, God has something for you to do. You may not do what you have done before. Yes, it may be time for you to pass things on to younger generations, but that does not mean you stop serving the Lord. You may work yourself out of a certain job, but when you do, there is another job that God has for you to do. God desires to use you in His work no matter what your age. This is Gabriel’s message to Zacharias.
Not only do we see Gabriel’s message to Zacharias, but notice with me, Gabriel’s message to Mary. We find this message in verses 26-38. Gabriel appears to Mary and tells her that she will have a son. Mary is obviously shocked to hear such news because she has never been with a man. Gabriel is telling Mary that a miracle will occur and that she will be conceived of the Holy Spirit. The message that the angel gives to Mary is found specifically in verse 37 where it states, “For with God nothing will be impossible.” In other words, there is nothing that God cannot do. I am afraid that often times we tend to put God in a box and we try to limit Him within our mental capacity. However, we cannot escape from the fact that He is God. He is all powerful. This why the scripture states, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” As believers, the power of God is living in us. We are one with Christ. Therefore, through Jesus, there is nothing that we cannot do. All things are possible with God.
We have a message from Gabriel to Zacharias and to Mary, but what about to us? Notice also, Gabriel’s Message to Us. The message that Gabriel brings to us today is threefold. First, believe in the power of God. We find this message again in verse 37. Nothing is impossible with God. Do you believe that? Do you believe that God can take a sinner like yourself and save you from your sin and give you a home in heaven? Do you believe that God can use you in ways that are beyond anything that you could imagine? Do you believe that God can supernaturally change the circumstances of your life? Do you believe that God can do what others say can’t be done? Do you believe in the power of God? Second, Commit to His way. In verse 38, we find Mary responding to Gabriel by surrendering to God’s plan. Mary said, “Let it be…” Can you say the same thing? Do you live such a life that says, ‘Lord, let it be.’ Whatever You want God, wherever You lead, I will follow. How do you know when you are not living a life of surrender? It is when you are holding on to something other than God. Let’s be honest with ourselves. We hold on to our bank accounts. We think it is our money. We hold on to the money God has given to the church. We worry about losing ‘our’ money, so we say no to anything that has to do with spending that money. We hold on to our physical location. We say, ‘this is my community’, ‘this is my church building.’ We hold on to our tradition. We hold on to our history. We may think, God would not want us to give up the money, God would not want us to do something different, God would not want us to leave our comfort zone. Really? Have you ever tried to tell God what He is suppose to do? Have you ever tried to tell God that He can’t? Think about it. God will only use us as far as we are willing to surrender. The more we give up, the more God works in and through us. Have we ever stopped to think that God is not concerned with our history and tradition? Have we ever wondered what God would do if we would be like Mary and say, ‘let it be.’ The biggest hindrance to the church today, the biggest roadblock to revival is our lack of surrender. When will we let go? When will we say, ‘let it be’? A final lesson that Gabriel teaches to us is that we must depend on Him. Over and over, Gabriel was telling Mary and Zacharias, ‘just trust God’. When we surrender it causes us to depend on Jesus and not on ourselves. Do you depend on Jesus to provide for you or do you depend on your own efforts? Do we as a church depend on Jesus to provide our needs or do we take pride in the amount we have in the bank? Do we depend on Jesus to do the work of reaching our community or do we do things our own way? To depend on Jesus, we must be emptied of ourselves.
The message that God is giving us today is that we need to believe, commit, and depend on Him. When we do that, the miraculous will occur. Look at the miracles that took place at the time of the birth of Christ. God used ordinary people that surrendered all and trusted in Him in order to perform the miraculous. God desires to send a miracle. God desires to do something special. God desires to work in ways that is beyond anything we can imagine. The question is, will we let Him work in us?