I find it fascinating that, after not talking for over nine months, suddenly Zechariah cannot shut up.
At the end of the first chapter of Luke’s gospel, Zechariah, a man previously thought of as a virtual mute, suddenly bursts into song when his son is born – Luke 1v68-79.
I love the image of this crowd of people watching on. Imagine the stunned faces, the confused looks and, more than likely, the fear that many are struck by. One thing is sure, though, no-one among them could doubt the conviction of what Zechariah is saying. I bet they were all listening intently, too.
In verse 67, Luke talks of Zechariah being “filled with the Holy Spirit”. This event, remember, happens some 33 years before Jesus’ resurrection and ascension, after which point the Holy Spirit becomes a major player for the disciples. At the birth of John the Baptist, about 6 months before Jesus’s own birth, we are coming to the end of a period of 400 years of relative silence from God. So the effect of this event cannot be understated. People of God had been in the shadows for centuries, and here was the first sign that they were stepping out.
Zechariah was a priest – a dutiful man of faith. Many would have expected him to be educated in God and his opinion would have been respected; but none would have experienced such an outburst as is seen at the end Luke Chapter 1.
So – why, then, did God allow this to happen in this way? Why does God do things that could be seen as “out of character” with us, when it comes to our faith?
The simple answer, of course, is that the best way for people to see our faith is to see how it affects us. Our work colleagues, friends and families will hear us talking about quarterly projections, the new colour of our bathroom wall or what we watched on television recently with varying degrees of enthusiasm; but they should see us light-up with passion when we talk about Jesus. We should celebrate the effect He has on our daily lives whenever we are given the opportunity. This is how we effect people – this is how we excite people into inquisition and subconsciously encourage them to go looking for the same light in their own life.
So, this Christmas, sing about Jesus, praise God and let the Holy Spirit come over you as you speak to the people around you about your faith. Our passion can and will light the way for others, who have spent years hiding in the shadows.
Written by Alasdair Mackay a member of Hope Church