Then there appeared to him [Zechariah] an angel of the Lord, standing at the right side of the altar of incense.When Zechariah saw him, he was terrified; and fear overwhelmed him.But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John.”
Zechariah said to the angel, “How will I know that this is so? For I am an old man, and my wife is getting on in years.” The angel replied, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news.But now, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time, you will become mute, unable to speak, until the day these things occur.” (Luke 1:8-13, 18-20)
Any time an angel shows up, it’s surprising, but that God came through an angel—to a priest who was already called by God through his tribe and his fellow priests —seems a bit more than necessary. It is even more surprising that worshipers were praying just outside the door at the same time Zechariah was encountering an angel.
Angels come as messengers from God to relay important and usually surprising information. God shows up during a time that we are not expecting. Zechariah must have thought “You are doing this now?” We have all, at one time or another, considered what exactly God is doing in our lives. But God usually has a plan to help us and to glorify God and the kingdom here on earth. We forget, God’s plan is not always our plan.
Zechariah was, unsurprisingly afraid. That response is purposeful; when we fear, we tend to listen, especially to God. “Surprise! I’m an angel in your temple! Oh, and I know you and your wife are very old but she’s pregnant.” Is it really a surprise Zechariah was rendered mute?
Lord God, as we come together this Advent season, we thank you for being in our lives. Your plan in our life is not always the plan we have for ourselves. Please keep on surprising us with situations that follow you. Amen.