Summary: First in Christmas series. This message discusses the "wonder" of Christmas compared to the "wonderING" if God really cares.
The “Wonder” of Christmas: A Contrast Between Zechariah and Mary
Luke 1:5-20; 26-38
November 28, 2010
NOTE: THE ME/WE/GOD/YOU/WE FORMAT IS FROM ANDY STANLEY’S BOOK, "COMMUNICATING FOR A CHANGE."
Me: Well, it’s the Christmas season, and it’s pretty obvious all around, isn’t it?
I love the Christmas season. I’m not too big on the weather that comes with it, but hey – we live in NE South Dakota, and that’s the weather we get, right?
One of the things I love about Christmas is the “wonder” of it all.
The thought that God took on human flesh, and how we celebrate that with the Christmas trees, presents, food, and all that, brings me some “wonder” that I enjoy.
We: Christians by and large have no problem believing the Christmas story – the virgin birth in the stable, magi, and all that stuff.
But often they have problems believing other things in Scripture, particularly the idea that God grants the greatest happiness and blessing to those who live for Him instead of themselves.
The “wonder” of Christmas doesn’t translate into wonder of God’s working in their lives. They see God as being just “out there” somewhere, not caring about them, or worse, just looking for an opportunity to knock them down.
They don’t live in the wonder of God, they live wonderING if God is really out there.
They live a life where doubt about God and His care for them is a reality.
And I’m not talking about unbelievers – those outside of Christ.
I’m talking about Christians – people who we think should “know better.”
Maybe that’s someone here today.
I know it’s been me before.
And I’m here to tell you that even in the midst of doubt, God can speak, and God can bring us back to the point where we stop wondering and live in wonder.
God: Our time in God’s Word today focuses on two individuals: Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, and Mary, the mother of Jesus, and how they responded to the announcements of the angel Gabriel about the coming bundles of joy they were about to receive.
We start with Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist.
Luke 1:5-20 (not on the screens, p. 723) –
5 In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. 6 Both of them were upright in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commandments and regulations blamelessly. 7 But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren; and they were both well along in years.
8 Once when Zechariah’s division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, 9 he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshipers were praying outside.
11 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. 13 But the angel said to him: "Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John. 14 He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, 15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth. 16 Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God. 17 And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous--to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."
18 Zechariah asked the angel, "How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years."
19 The angel answered, "I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. 20 And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their proper time."
And that’s just what happened. He couldn’t speak until John was born and circumcised.
Zechariah gives us a lesson here:
Even the most devout believers can have doubts.
What does it say about him and his wife back in verse 7?