Summary: Zaccharias & Elizabeth were carried a heavy burden. When God gave them a son in old age...John the Baptizer...It was there " burden lifting day." This sermon uses the backdrop of the Christmas story to explore how a believer should handle burdens in life.
Burden Lifting Day
December 6, 2015
A PowerPoint presentation of this sermon is available by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Adapted from a sermon outline by Roger Campbell in Preach for a Year, Vol. 1.
TEXT: Turn to Luke 1
In our text we see that the curtain opens in God’s prophetic timetable: Prior to the actual birth of Christ, we see preparation for this extraordinary event. Before God does something, He always paves the way beforehand. God is a mighty God—And He’s also a God of order and foresight.
We see this preparation played out for us in the first chapters of the Gospels. God prepared Joseph and Mary, and then just before the birth, He prepared the angels and the wise men for the glorious event about to unfold. But before any of this is the story of the birth of the last and greatest prophet of the Old Testament age—John the Baptist. John would be part of this preparation, for it was he who would prepare the way for the Lord’s ministry on earth about thirty-three years later.
John was born to a couple named Zacharias and Elisabeth. Verse 5 tells us that Zacharias was a priest. – Luke 1:5 – “There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth.”
Elisabeth, Luke says, was a descendent of Aaron, the priestly line of the Jewish tribes. Verse 6 tells us the wonderful testimony of this couple: “And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.”
Why is it that Luke chose to tell us this story before telling us the story of the birth of our Lord? I believe that there are several lessons to learn from this passage of scripture.
Let me share with you some of them:
I. FIRST, NOTICE A HEAVY BURDEN THEY CARRIED – Luke 1:7 – ”And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years.”
Simply put, they had no children. Elisabeth was not able to bear children, and they were both now very old.
Only a few verses after we meet them in these verses, Luke singles out this fact. This must have been paramount in their thoughts. This was a burden they carried with them.
I’ve known several childless couples down through the years of my ministry. Though most come to a quiet acceptance of God’s will in this matter, they often struggle for a long time to come to terms with not being able to have children. I’ve talked with and comforted several such couples over the years—listened to their yearnings, wept as they wept, and prayed with them for children.
This was the case, no doubt, with Zacharias and Elisabeth. But now all hope of having a baby was gone, for the last part of verse 7 tells us that they were now “well stricken in years.”
Now, again, remember that verse 6 tells us that both Zacharias and Elisabeth were righteous people, meaning they were justified before God. But even though they were saved people, they were still childless. God had not granted them their request.
They carried a heavy burden for years, and God never, until this point in time, saw fit in His infinite wisdom to lift it from them.
Let me ask you a question: Did you walk into this sanctuary today carrying a burden?
Like Zacharias and Elisabeth, has your burden eclipsed your blessings in your mind?
What is your burden today?
• Is it a physical infirmity?
• Do you have a broken heart?
• Is there a broken relationship?
• Are you experiencing loneliness?
• Are you defeated?
• Have you experienced a great setback or disappointment?
• Have you lost a loved one, or perhaps a precious little one in your womb?
• Is there some besetting sin?
• Are you filled with fear?
If you have a burden today, then take heart—don’t lose heart, for Zacharias and Elizabeth, and many other good people in the Bible have walked in your shoes.
II. BUT NOTICE NEXT THAT ZACHARIAS AND ELIZABETH EXPERIENCED A BURDEN-LIFTING DAY! – Luke 1:8-11 – ”And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest’s office before God in the order of his course, 9 According to the custom of the priest’s office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord. 10 And the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense. 11 And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense.”