A TENDER MOMENT
“‘And you, my child, ‘Prophet of the Highest’, will go ahead of the Master to prepare His ways, Present the offer of salvation to His people, the forgiveness of their sins, Through the heartfelt mercies of our God. God’s Sunrise will break upon us, Shining in the darkness, those sitting in the shadow of death, then showing us the way, one foot at a time, Down the path of peace.’
“The child grew up healthy and spirited. He lived out in the desert until the day he made his prophetic debut in Israel,” Luke 1:76-80.
What a privilege we have to eavesdrop on Zachariah’s tender moment with his baby son! Many a father has cradled his new-born child in his arms, nuzzled its downy cheek and whispered words of expectation and hope into its ears. For Zachariah, this was a moment he never thought would happen. There was no digital camera to capture it for him, but Luke’s pen did the job equally well.
Instead of words of uncertainty and scepticism, Zachariah uttered the words that were birthed in the heart of God and spoken by the angel into his reluctant ears. All his doubts were swept away by this flesh-and-blood baby boy he held in his arms. If God could go against physical nature to make it happen, he had no doubt that God could overcome every other obstacle to fulfil His dream for this child.
There are two profound principles in the prophetic utterance of the old priest. Firstly, it was imperative that he release through his oneness with God, the will of God to be fulfilled in the life of his son. In the beginning God appointed mankind to manage the earth for and with Him. How would this be done?
This is an aspect of prayer that many believers do not understand. God revealed to Amos that He does nothing without telling His servants the prophets. Why? Was it just to keep them informed, or was there something more to it? We find the clue in David’s response to God’s word to him through the prophet Nathan (2 Samuel 7:18-29). David affirmed and released God’s promise to be fulfilled by these words, “Do as you promised…”
Perhaps many of God’s promises to us remain unfulfilled because we have not released them into our lives through our declaration of faith in what He had said. “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through Him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.” 2 Corinthians 1:20 (NIV).
There is a second important principle in Zachariah’s words. He was not only affirming God’s word, he was also affirming his son. At the beginning of John’s life, before he had done anything good or bad, Zachariah gave him his fatherly blessing, releasing him into the potential for which he was created. No child can ever become everything he was made to be without the father’s blessing.
Our world is full of broken and unfulfilled lives because fathers have never said these simple words, “You are my son; you are my daughter, and I love you.” It was in the strength of these words, spoken at His baptism, that Jesus went out and conquered the world. He could say with utmost confidence, “My Father…” because His Father had audibly affirmed the relationship that gave Him His identity and released the power to become who He was, the Son of God.
It’s now wonder John grew up “healthy and spirited”!
I don’t think any of these thoughts crossed Zachariah’s mind as he pondered the nature of the child in Elizabeth’s womb. But, nevertheless, he must have considered the possibility that, since the angel had prophesied the birth of a baby to two people too old to have a child, the child would become and do all that Gabriel had said.
When Zachariah’s thinking became one with the mind of the Father, he was ready to receive and father the prophet in whom was invested the honour of fulfilling God’s plan. The early years of this child were crucial to his mission. He had to have a father who clearly understood his role in the raising of this boy. Unless Zachariah fully embraced the angel’s prophetic words, who would sow the seeds of John’s future into his life and destiny?
It was Zachariah’s role to prepare him for his future task. In this prophetic utterance of an overwhelmed dad, Zachariah expressed his confidence in the prophetic word and fully embraced his fatherly responsibility to raise his son into the role of which the angel had spoken.