2 Faith to hear

Luke 1:5-23
Isaiah 51:4-8
TYour wish

 Chapter 1-2 of Luke is "the prehistory of Jesus" after the foreword (1:1-4). Luke begins the prehistory from priest Zacharias. This morning, it is from Verse 5-23; this may be origin part 1 of the birth of John the Baptist / foreshadowing of Jesus. Luke writes it very finely. Why would he is going to tell to thing finely so much? I imagine it, when he have done by "investigating everything carefully"(3), he would have decided how to write and advance this Gospel. This part of "prehistory", in particular, the text of this morning may say that his basic posture writing this Gospel is covered. I want to hunt it out.

 "In the day of Herod, king of Judea, there was a certain priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah;"(5) Perhaps, it will be BC6 year which is near to the later years in the days of Herod the Great. There is it, "the division of Abijah"; it points all several thousand priests were divided into 24 classes in those days. The eighth class see to have been the noble Abijah. There were approximately 4-5 groups in each division, and that 20-30 members of priest seem to have belonged to one division. Usually, it seems to have changed various duty in the shrine as a one week change, but, for the particularly important duty, it seems to have drawn lots and decided that turn. "Burn incense"; it seems to have been the duty to carry incense lamps to the high priest who burns it twice, in the morning and in the evening. Though the probability to win the lot seemed to be very low, but Zacharias won that duty. "And the whole multitude of the people were in prayer outside at the hour of the incense offering."(10)  The priest who got that duty seems to have been to do benedicite before the people who gathered outside a shrine. Surely it would be so rare for him to enter to such deep place for "to burn incense". It seems to show the way of his strain. "An angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the alter of incense."(11), "Zacharias was troubled when he saw him, and fear gripped him."(12); it was natural.

 "Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, you will give him the name John."(12); and the words of the angel begin.


U A message full of hope

 "And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and he will drink no wine or liquor; and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, while yet in his mother's womb. And he will turn back many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God, And it is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous; so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."(14-17) Jews have already heard this message from a book of prophet Isaiah and Malachi. "'Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming,' says the Lord of hosts."(Malachi3:1) "Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord. And he will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the land with a curse."(Malachi4:5-6) The message of Gabriel and the prophets; they agree with almost fit, aren't they? Malachi is the last prophet of the age of the Old Testament, and he is a person of the BC400 age, but, from there to time of Jesus, it enters the age of the confusion that is called the middle age. While the leaders got fat and gained weight, and poor persons were poor more and more, the people desired comfort of God earnestly; and increased the crimes of the people who despaired. However, there is not a person who stand between God and them, "a person poured oil". David dynasty died out, and the prophet has been cut off for a long time, too. The archpriesthood which continued clung to a seat of power. One person who had King, a prophet, the pontiff's post, such mediator Messiah who was poured oil by God; the days of middle was the times when a voice to wait eagerly for such Messiah swelled out at a stretch.

 Surely, Zacharias' expectation and prayer, it would be a thing represented of the Jew who blow up such expectation to the Messiah. Gabriel carried a desired message to meet such a prayer. It was "I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God; I have been sent to speak to you, and bring you this good news."(19) It precedes arrival of that joy, and according to the prophecy of Malachi which is said that "prophet Elijah will come"; now, John the Baptist is going to be sent as a person, who make to fix the heart of people and show Jesus.


V Faith to hear

 However, as for the message of Gabriel, because it was too suddenly for Zacharias, he does not any react to that message itself. He is merely only surprised that a child is born. "How shall I know this for certain? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years."(18) Gabriel answers. "I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God; and I have been sent to speak to you, and to bring you this good news. And behold, you shall be silent and unable to speak until the day when these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which shall be fulfilled in their proper time."(19-20) Gabriel declared that he lost a voice to Zacharias who demanded "a mark". It would be a mark for him. However, he can hear the story of the person. He cannot talk even if known. For training of hearing others without self-insisting, it would be the most necessary for him. Why is it? I want to think it.

 There is it, "They were both righteous in the sight of God," in Verse 6. Because the Jewish righteousness was to follow law and to perform it, it was evaluated that the couple of Zacharias who performed "walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord" is a "right person". And they also understood that the relation to God was kept normal by following law without a fault. It was their "faith". Here, Zacharias' prayer is raised, "Zacharias, for your petition has been heard"(13); perhaps it seems that he prayed for consolation of Israel(2:25) and redemption of Jerusalem(2:38). It was the way the "right" people should be. However, as we can see it in parable of Jesus, the story of "prayer of Pharisee and tax-gatherer" (Luke 18:9-14), the "faith of the righteousness" seems to be accompanied with strong self-assertion. When we hear it so, will not this be our problem of the present age? The reason is because posture hearing there is left out completely.

 Zacharias was called to the world, "hear the word of God", from an ideal method of self-assertion as such a "right" Jew. Now, God is going to tell the arrival of the new times called the Gospel of Jesus. Would they not be called as a pioneer of the time? About the thing that "you did not believe"; it will simply point at he did not hear the center message of Gabriel; but it will not point at his thought, "it is impossible that a child is born to old couple, us". The reason why he "lost his voice" was "to hear"; it tells us so. Here, we can hear, new "faith" demanded in the times of the Gospel is told to here as the central subject of concern of Luke. It is that teacher / Paul of Luke says, "So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ"(Romans 10:17). This seems to be basic stance of writing his Gospel. "Listen to Me, you who know righteousness, a people in whose heart is My law; do not fear the reproach of man, neither be dismayed at their revilings. For the moth will eat them like a garment, and the grub will eat them like wool. But My righteousness shall be forever, and My salvation to all generations."(Isaiah 51:7-8) We want to cultivate the faith for hearing.