An important missed detail

By Sandra Sheridan

Luke 1:13 “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 give him the name John.

Have you ever noticed how you can get so fixated on one thing that you miss something really important?

Zechariah was an elderly priest. When his priestly division was on temple duty, his name was chosen by lot to burn incense before the Lord. During his service, Gabriel, an angel of the Lord, appeared to him and proclaimed exciting news: His prayer had been answered! He and his wife, Elizabeth, would become pregnant with a son whom they were to name John.

The angel went on to explain that this boy would be filled with the Holy Spirit from birth and would bring many of the Jewish people back to the Lord their God. In the spirit and power of Elijah, John would turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous. This would all occur to make the people ready for the Messiah to come.

Zechariah was flabbergasted at this news. He and Elizabeth were very old and past the years of child-bearing. So he questioned the angel in disbelief. His mind was focused only on the seeming impossibility of a physical birth. Gabriel assured Zechariah that the words were true, but proclaimed that because of his unbelief he would not be able to speak until the child was born. Zechariah returned home after his job was done and, sure enough, as prophesied Elizabeth became pregnant.

I can only imagine how many years this couple had talked and prayed about having a child. Each passing month produced fresh disappointment and the decades rolled by. So when the angel gave Zechariah the incredible news of the soon coming birth, the tiny baby boy was all he could think about. It seemed impossible to him, though as a priest he must have known it was not impossible. Hadn’t he heard the stories of Abraham and Sarah and how God had given them a son in their old age?

The really impossible part was what God would do through this child! He would use him to soften the hard hearts of men and turn them back to God. Romans 3:10 states, “As it is written: There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. Yet, despite the impossibility of humans seeking after God, through John’s ministry hearts of stone would be softened to hearts of flesh to respond to the coming Messiah.

It seems that during the nine months of silent waiting Zechariah had much time to think. When the long-awaited baby finally arrived, this joyful father sang a song of praise. But the theme of the lyrics was not about the impossibility of an older person giving birth. Instead this song focused on the really important part: God would redeem His people from their sin and rescue them from their enemies. This precious little child, John, would be used in the miraculous preparation of hearts by giving the people the knowledge of salvation through God’s forgiveness. His physical life would prepare others for spiritual life in Christ.

What are you fixated on this Christmas season? Could it be that the thing you have prayed for the most has blinded you to God’s even grander idea? Open your heart and mind so you don’t miss any important details of what God is doing and has done. What you find might surprise you! — Love Mama

By Sandra Sheridan

Sandra Sheridan is a Midwest wife and mother of five. She shares her letters to her children with our readers. Visit her at

Sandra Sheridan is a Midwest wife and mother of five. She shares her letters to her children with our readers. Visit her at