Luke 1:5–38; Matthew 1:18–21; The Desire of Ages, pp. 97–101
God’s gifts of love fill me with hope and joy.
“The Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is his name” (Luke 1:49).
Has your mom or dad ever promised you something special? something that you have wanted for a long time? How did you feel when it happened? That might have been how Zechariah felt when God sent Gabriel to give him a promise.
Zechariah, a priest, was serving in the temple. The priests took turns, and it was his week to serve. Every day that week he was to enter the holy place. There he would burn incense and lift up the prayers of the people to God. One day he entered the holy place as usual. But this was not to be a “usual” day. A strange and wonderful thing happened.
Zechariah was standing before the golden altar. The cloud of incense was rising up before God. Suddenly an angel appeared on the right side of the altar. Zechariah was startled and filled with fear. Then the angel spoke. “Don’t be afraid, Zechariah. God has heard your prayers. Your wife will have a baby boy. You are to name him John. The Holy Spirit will be with him. He will lead many people to change their lives, to be ready to meet the Lord.”
Zechariah couldn’t believe what he was hearing. He and his wife, Elizabeth, did not have any children. For many years they had prayed for a child. But they were too old now. People of their age did not have children.
“How do I know that what you say is true?” he asked. “My wife and I are old, too old to have a baby.”
The angel replied, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God. God sent me with this special message for you. Because you did not believe, you will not speak until your son is born. That will be the sign that what I have said is true.” Then the angel disappeared.
People in the temple courtyard were wondering what had happened to Zechariah. When he left the holy place, he tried to tell the people what he had seen. But just as the angel had said, he could not speak. He could only write and try to use sign language.
Soon after the angel’s visit, Elizabeth became pregnant. God had kept His promise. And when the baby was born, everybody wanted to name the boy after his father, but Zechariah could speak again. “His name shall be John,” he told their friends and neighbors.
Six months after visiting Zechariah, Gabriel brought good news to another person, Elizabeth’s young cousin Mary.
“Rejoice, God is with you,” Gabriel said to the young woman.
Mary was startled. She wondered about this stranger. Why did he say, “God is with you”? She felt nervous and a bit afraid.
Gabriel continued. “Don’t be afraid. God is going to give you a son. You must name Him Jesus. He will be known as the Son of God. And He will reign over a kingdom that will never end!”
Mary was very young, and she wondered how this could be. How could she have a baby?
“Your child will be created by God,” Gabriel said. “Your cousin Elizabeth is also having a baby. Nothing is impossible for God.”
Mary believed Gabriel. “I am God’s servant,” she said. “Let it be as you have said.”
Gabriel then went to visit Joseph, the man Mary was to marry. He told Joseph that Mary would have a baby—the Son of God. And Joseph believed his message. He would be the earthly father of the Son of God.
This is grace—a promise that God gives for something that seems impossible.
He promised a son to Zechariah and Elizabeth. And He kept His word.
He promised a son to Mary and Joseph. And He kept His word. God has promised to send Jesus to us again, that we might live with Him forever.
God keeps His promises. Jesus will come again!