67 John’s father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied,
68 “Bless the Lord God of Israel
because he has come to help and has delivered his people.
69 He has raised up a mighty savior for us in his servant David’s house,
70 just as he said through the mouths of his holy prophets long ago.
71 He has brought salvation from our enemies
and from the power of all those who hate us.
72 He has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors,
and remembered his holy covenant,
73 the solemn pledge he made to our ancestor Abraham.
He has granted 74 that we would be rescued
from the power of our enemies
so that we could serve him without fear,
75 in holiness and righteousness in God’s eyes,
for as long as we live.
76 You, child, will be called a prophet of the Most High,
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way.
77 You will tell his people how to be saved
through the forgiveness of their sins.
78 Because of our God’s deep compassion,
the dawn from heaven will break upon us,
79 to give light to those who are sitting in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
to guide us on the path of peace.”
80 The child grew up, becoming strong in character. He was in the wilderness until he began his public ministry to Israel.
Like the father of the demon-possessed son, how many of us have cried out to Jesus, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
The Apostles weren’t able drive out the evil spirit from the man’s son. But Jesus heard the father’s prayer, as incomplete as it might seem, and healed the son. Then Jesus admonished the Apostles and told them this kind of spirit only came out with prayer and some manuscripts included fasting. (Mark 9)
In Matthew’s account Jesus told them it was their lack of faith. But as we see here, Jesus can take our little faith, believing yet also with unbelief, and make us whole.
Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, isn’t alone. Throughout the ages followers of God have had believed, yet also dealt with unbelief. Look at Abraham when God told him his Sarah would give him a son. Abraham fell facedown, in Genesis, laughed and said to himself, “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?” And yet, God gave him Isaac. (Genesis 17)
Look at Moses when he led the people of Israel in the desert and gave them manna to eat, but they wanted meat. So, God said they would have meat. Moses said, “Here I am among six hundred thousand men on foot, and you say, ‘I will give them meat to eat for a whole month!’ Would they have enough if flocks and herds were slaughtered for them? Would they have enough if all the fish in the sea were caught for them?”
And yet, God said, “Is the Lord’s arm too short? Now you will see whether or not what I say will come true for you.” And God gave them quail. (Numbers 11)
Look at Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, and our scripture for today. Earlier in the chapter Zechariah told the Angel Gabriel that he was an old man when the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord.”
Zechariah basically laughed and said, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man, and my wife is well along in years.”
Once more, God wasn’t happy, but still gave him a son. The angel told Zechariah he wouldn’t speak until his son was born.
Zechariah got back his voice after the birth and said that he must be named John. And he prophesied about John’s mission.
Over and over men and women have declared, “I do believe, help me with my unbelief.” Over and over, God has – and will continue to do so. For us.
by Rick Reed
For Pondering & Prayer
How many times have I asked God to help me with my unbelief. And how many times God’s done so! I’m sure I will continue to ask for help. And I’m sure our Lord will continue to do so.
Prayer: Oh Lord, I am grateful that you meet me where I am, faith wise. And that you will continue to do so! Praise be to God, alleluia.