Elizabeth in Shadows

woman in shadow.jpgIn the midst of all the grand things God is doing at the beginning of the Gospel of Luke, there is something much smaller going on. In the midst of the story of God playing out in human history and the incense of the Temple in Jerusalem with Zechariah, there is a woman standing in shadows of shame and her name is Elizabeth.

Sometimes we wonder if as human beings we are mere cogs in the universe. Even if we believe in God, we may wonder if we are simply hidden, unnoticed beings before the divine majesty. I think it precisely in moments like this that the words of Luke 1:23-25 are for us:

Listen to the last verses of today’s passage:

And when Zechariah’s time of service was ended, he went to his home. After these days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she kept herself hidden, saying, “Thus the Lord has done for me in the days when he looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.”

I love this because in the midst of all God is working out in cosmos through Jesus Messiah, there is still a message of salvation that is so relationally personal.

Elizabeth, who was last described by her barrenness (Luke 1:7), now experiences a work of God that is personal and transformational. She declares aloud: “The Lord has done this for me…In these days He has shown His favor and taken away my disgrace among the people.”

She knows that God has done this for her. A good theologian might want to correct Elizabeth by reminding her of the bigger thing God is doing in the world and for salvation. Yet here we encounter an important truth: God’s grand story always involves our personal story.

God is not so great that He forgets about us; in fact, He is so great that He remembers us.

Elizabeth’s childless years – the years of mourning have been changed. She has a child. It is a miracle child that promises something great for Israel and all the nations of the earth…

But this child speaks to Elizabeth that even for her, God is bringing a promise:
a promise of hope, of change, of new beginning.

As it says in Psalm 30:

“Lord my God, I called to you for help,
and you healed me….
You turned my wailing into dancing;
you removed my sackcloth & clothed me with joy,
that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.
Lord my God, I will praise you forever.”
(Psalm 30:2, 11, 12)

So, for those of standing in the shadows of shame like Elizabeth, the work of God in Jesus Christ is also a personal, relational, and transformational. God is doing something new in Jesus now…for us.

 [This is an excerpt from my message “Promise” as part of our series on the Gospel of Luke.]

Promise (discussion questions)

beginnings-series-gfx_app-squareHere are the discussion questions that accompany my message, “Promise,” from this past weekend at Eastbrook Church. This is the first part of our series, “Beginnings.” The text for this week is Luke 1:1-25.

Discussion Questions:

  1. When did you experience a great moment of hope in your life?
  2. This week we begin a journey with the Gospel of Luke with the first part in a series entitled “Beginnings.” Pray that God would speak to you and then, whether you are with a group or on your own, read Luke 1:1-25 aloud.
  3. Background: The Gospel of Luke is, with Acts, the first of a two-part work written by Luke, an early Christian and a physician. The Gospel of Luke was likely written around 70 or 80 and focuses on the life and ministry of Jesus, moving from Galilee to Jerusalem.
  4. Based on what we read in verses 1-4, what is Luke’s purpose in writing the Gospel? You may want to compare this to Acts 1:1-2.
  5. Zechariah is of the priestly line and has been selected to serve in the temple during either the morning or evening sacrifice (vss 5-10). An angel appears and brings a message to him about the promise an unexpected child. What are the specific features of this child’s identity, role, and activity from verses 11-17?
  6. In verses 18-20, how does Zechariah respond and what is the angel Gabriel’s response to Zechariah’s words?
  7. When Zechariah returns home after his service, he shares the message with his wife, Elizabeth, who does become pregnant (vss 23-25).
  8. What do you think about Zechariah’s response and Elizabeth’s response? Which one of them do you relate to more given their circumstances?
  9. What is one specific thing that God is speaking to you through this study? If you are with a small group, discuss that with one another and pray for one another. If you are studying on your own, write it down and share it with someone.


Daily Reading Plan

To encourage us together in our growth with God, we are arranging a weekday reading plan through this entire series with the Gospel of Luke. As you read each day, ask God to speak to you from His word.

Follow along with the reading plan below, through the Eastbrook app, or on social media.

  • Monday, Oct 17          Luke 1:1-4; Amos 8:11-12
  • Tuesday, Oct 18           Luke 1:5-7; 1 Samuel 1:1-11
  • Wednesday, Oct 19     Luke 1:8-17; Malachi 4:1-6
  • Thursday, Oct 20         Luke 1:18-25; Genesis 18:1-15,
  • Friday, Oct 21              Genesis 17:15-19; 21:1-6



This weekend at Eastbrook Church we launched into our new extended journey into the Gospel of Luke, with the first  series called “Beginnings.”  This series looks at the first two chapters of Luke’s Gospel, and sets the stage for the public appearing of Jesus. This first message, “Promise,” walks through the promise and life calling of John the Baptist, as well as his coming impact upon his parents and the nation.

You can also follow the entire series at our web-site, through the Eastbrook app, or through our audio podcast.

Also, join in with the weekday reading plan for this series here.

“But 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.’” (Luke 1:13)


Hungering for the Promise (Amos 8:11-12)

“The days are coming,” declares the Sovereign Lord,
    “when I will send a famine through the land—
not a famine of food or a thirst for water,
    but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord.
12 People will stagger from sea to sea
    and wander from north to east,
searching for the word of the Lord,
    but they will not find it.


Preparing for the Promise (Luke 1:5-17)

 13 But 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.


Shocked by the Promise (Luke 1:18-22)

18 Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.”


Healing in the Promise (Luke 1:23-25)

25 “The Lord has done this for me,” Elizabeth said. “In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people.”


Sunday Prayer 22

Prince of peace and Lord of life,
You are my King and my Father.
Thank You for the freedom You have given us
through Jesus Christ
to boldly approach Your throne of grace
for help in time of need.

Oh Father, we have need every hour
and so we draw near to You for true help.
We forsake all other help
and turn toward You.
Make us wholehearted servants of Your Name,
that nothing would hold us back from You.
Search our hearts and minds;
sift through our inner being
so that Your glory might shine through us.

Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.

All this we ask through our Lord and Savior,
Jesus Christ,

[This is part of a series of prayers for Sunday worship preparation that begins here.]