God Is Gracious (Luke 1:57-65)
“Now Elizabeth’s full time came for her to be delivered, and she brought forth a son. When her neighbors and relatives heard how the Lord had shown great mercy to her, they rejoiced with her. So it was, on the eighth day, that they came to circumcise the child; and they would have called him by the name of his father Zacharias. His mother answered and said, “No; he shall be called John.”
But they said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who is called by this name.” So they made signs to his father – what he would have him called. And he asked for a writing tablet, and wrote, saying, “His name is John.” So they all marveled.
Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, praising God. Then fear came on all who dwelt around them; and all these sayings were discussed throughout all the hill country of Judea.”
Elizabeth and Zacharias had been praying for their miracle for many years when they received a Word from God and a visit from the angel Gabriel. After that, they still had to wait nine months or more to see the promise fulfilled. The miracle was spoken upon them when Gabriel visited Zecharias in the temple, but before the child come forth, he had to go home to his wife, and they had to wait for conception, and then for her pregnancy to be complete. They were ‘expecting’ their child for nine months before they physically held him in their arms. It is possible that Elizabeth faced many challenges through the months of her pregnancy, because the enemy always tries to take away the good things God blesses us with. She was not a young lady in the prime of her life, and it is likely that her pregnancy was not an easy one. Each time she felt unwell, exhausted or experienced pain in her abdomen, she probably wondered if she was losing the child, or going into premature labor. She had no prior experience, no books and internet to learn from, and she and Zacharias probably had to overcome each challenge with prayer and the support of friends and family (Mary visited them in Luke 1:40).
Waiting can be the hardest thing of all, and the time we are most attacked as the enemy tries to stop the fulfillment of our promise, but Elizabeth’s “full time” finally came. There are seasons and timings in the supernatural dimension which we cannot bypass, however much we would like to. Certain things have to happen before they make way for the miracle we have been waiting for. Sometimes God has us wait a little so that we are truly ready for the good thing He is giving us! When Elizabeth and Zecharias looked into the eyes of the child they had yearned so long for, all their distress and pain was forgotten. They knew he was special. They knew he had been worth waiting for! They knew they were stronger in their faith for having waited and trusted God. (“But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles. They shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31) This was their time for celebration!
God does miracles in our lives because He loves His kids and delights in making them happy. He also wants people to know that He is real, alive, and omnipotent God. Both these purposes were fulfilled when the baby was born and everyone rejoiced and gave thanks to God!
Male children were circumcised on the eighth day in accordance with the requirements of the law (Genesis 17:12), and they were normally named on the same day. Zecharias was unable to perform his son’s circumcision because he was dumb and therefore could not speak the customary blessing over the child. The law required at least ten people to be present at the covenant of circumcision, so it is likely that one of the many family members present did the needful.
It was the practice to name the first born son after his father, so the relatives of Elizabeth and Zecharias assumed that the baby would be given his father’s name. But Elizabeth said his name was to be ‘John’. The opinion of a woman was not generally regarded in that time and culture, and they probably thought Elizabeth was suffering from some post natal confusion (!), so they asked Zecharias too, communicating through signs. When he wrote on a writing tablet “His name is John”, we are told that the people ‘marvelled’, because a man would normally want his first born child to bear his name. Zecharias especially should have wanted to proudly make a statement to the world, that he was a father at last, but he knew what God said (Luke 1:13) through the angel: “Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John.”
The gathered assembly saw another aspect of this awesome miracle when Zecharias was able to open his mouth and praise God, the minute he acknowledged that the baby’s name was John! Sometimes Daddy in His love keeps us in a season of silence, unable to tell anyone what is going on in the depths of our hearts because it is all so profound and He is doing something deep within us as we wait. Then suddenly, it is as if a cloud is lifted and we are able to praise Him aloud in the assembly, and declare to the world what God has done. The mute spirit was broken off Zecharias the moment he acknowledged God’s sovereign hand on his life.
“Zecharias” means “God remembers”, while “John” means “God is gracious”. For many years, Zecharias had been praying for a child, asking God to remember all the good things he had done, and the way Elizabeth and he had lived their whole life in Kingdom service. Finally he was acknowledging that it is the grace of God, and His grace alone which flows abundant blessing upon our lives.
Friend, God is gracious. His love for you and me is so wholly overwhelming and overflowing. “No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly” (Psalm 84:11), as He looks for new and wonderful ways to enable us to receive His goodness and mercy always. However, there is a fine line between faith and an attitude of entitlement, and if you have been feeling offended with Daddy God because of an unanswered prayer, chances are that you are not on the ideal side of the line! The Father said to the older son in the story of the prodigal (Luke 15:31) “Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours”, but the son had a bad attitude towards the father and his right to bless his sons as he saw fit. You are a joint heir with Jesus Christ (Romans 8:17) and all the abundance of heaven is for you and me, but they are a result of Daddy’s amazing and unending love and grace. We grieve Him multiple times through the day, through our thoughts, words and decisions, but He still loves us. We could never begin to deserve all His goodness and blessing – we receive it all by GRACE (God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense!). As we humbly come to Him and acknowledge that everything we seek is possible because He is gracious and full of mercy and love, we are walking into the blessing He has already decreed for us. God is gracious, and He loves you!
Dear friend, you are on the brink of a new season in your life. It is a season of miracles, and promises fulfilled. It is a season of great fruitfulness! You are coming to a time when your friends and relatives will see the goodness and grace of God in your life and rejoice! They will see that God is real and mighty because of His presence upon you, and they will know the fear of the Lord. You are a joint heir with Jesus Christ. Whatever you are praying for, believe and know that the Father wants the very best for you, and that He will never withhold anything good from you because you are trusting in Him. It is yours, according to His riches in glory, by Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).
John’s name was his destiny, and his passport to all the blessings and anointing of God. It was God’s permission to come before Him and ask for anything at any time. It is powerful to know that God remembers, but when we experience the revelation of God’s grace, we enter a whole new level in our walk with God! May you walk in the same favor, and in the same promise of blessing. May God grant you all the desires of your heart, in the mighty name of Jesus! May your friends and family soon rejoice with you as you celebrate your breakthrough and your miracle. God is gracious!
Minoli Haththotuwa, 14 July 2011
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