In the gospels, the story of Jesus’ birth is preceded by the prediction of the birth of John the Baptist.
John’s father, Zechariah, was a priest at the temple in Jerusalem. One day, while he was burning incense to God, the angel Gabriel appeared to him and said, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John” (Luke 1:13).
This was surprising news to Zechariah and so he asks, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years” (verse 18). That is a logical question, right? I mean, he is asking for a sign so that he can believe something that seems quite unbelievable. Who would fault him for that?
Zechariah’s request for a sign of assurance is logical until you consider one thing: he is talking to an angel! In fact, he is talking to “Gabriel,” one of the most powerful and famous angels in the entire book of God! What more evidence or assurance does he need?
In fact, that is basically the response he receives: “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you the good news” (verse 19). In essence, Gabriel says, “Umm, you are looking at the sign. I am it!”
Now, it is easy to wonder, “What was Zechariah thinking? Why would he need anything other than the sign he was given?” On the other hand, how many times does God look at us and think the same thing?
He sends us beautiful sunrises and sunsets every day. Sometimes we notice and sometimes we don’t.
He brings babies into the world every single day. We see these little miracles all over the place, but to we really “see” them?
Most of us have more money, food and health than the rest of the world and, too often, we just take it for granted.
What I am suggesting is that we too stand in front of our own “angels” (or “messengers” as it could be translated) and still wonder whether God is there, whether he cares and whether he will look after us.
Maybe what we really need is not a better “sign,” but better eyes.
“I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe (Ephesians 1:18-19).
May you see and believe your angels in 2013!