In 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.]