S (Scripture): Luke 1:8 Now while Zechariah was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty, 9 he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to enter the holy place of the Lord and burn incense. 10 Now the whole crowd of people were praying outside at the hour of the incense offering. 11 An angel of the Lord, standing on the right side of the altar of incense, appeared to him. 12 And Zechariah, visibly shaken when he saw the angel, was seized with fear. 13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son; you will name him John. 14 Joy and gladness will come to you, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He must never drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even before his birth. 16 He will turn many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 And he will go as forerunner before the Lord in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared for him.”
18 Zechariah said to the angel, “How can I be sure of this? For I am an old man, and my wife is old as well.” 19 The angel answered him, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. 20 And now, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time, you will be silent, unable to speak, until the day these things take place.”
O (Observation): Zechariah experiences joy and fear, law and gospel. He is told of great and (seemingly) unbelievable news! He is to be a father!!!
But…he and Elizabeth, his wife, were very old. And was considered barren.
Yet, somehow, God brings life were there wasn’t life. And promised that not only would they be parents, but their son would be destined to be a prophet for the Lord…he would receive the Holy Spirit, even while still in the womb!
A (Application): Law and Gospel are apparent in the Old and New Testaments. Many mistakenly see the Old Testament as “Law” and the New Testament as “Gospel.” The scriptures themselves point out the folly in this way of thinking.
Take today’s text, for example. Zechariah and Elizabeth know of the brokenness of creation in the fact that they cannot bear a child, and yet Gabriel, the Lord’s messenger, has been sent to declare to Zechariah that they will indeed bear a son! That gift of a son is the very gospel at work.
Zecharaiah experiences law again as his doubt makes him unable to speak, but upon the birth of his son, he will be able to speak again, which is the gospel.
We would do well to recognize our sinfulness (the law) as well as God’s grace all around us. We can look to both the Old and New Testaments to see our brokenness and God’s grace on display throughout the generations of God’s people. And we can look to those who have come since the time of Jesus, since the time of Paul…and see brokenness and grace.
I see grace when I seek forgiveness for the wrongs I’ve committed. I see grace when I forgive others for the harms they’ve done to me. It’s easy to see the law all around us…and because of that, we like retaliation and victories over those who harm us. And yet….
Grace is the path we are called to. Grace is the simple, but difficult path to follow. Thankfully, the Spirit comes to dole out the grace and guide is in the use of that grace, daily.
Where do you see the Law today? Where do you see the Gospel?
P (Prayer): Lord, guide us and help us to see the Law and Gospel in your words and actions. Help us to see the difference and to point out your Good News along way. Amen.