18 Zechariah asked the angel, ‘How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well on in years.’
19 The angel said to him, ‘I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. 20 And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time.’
21 Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah and wondering why he stayed so long in the temple. 22 When he came out, he could not speak to them. They realised he had seen a vision in the temple, for he kept making signs to them but remained unable to speak.
23 When his time of service was completed, he returned home. 24 After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion. 25 ‘The Lord has done this for me,’ she said. ‘In these days he has shown his favour and taken away my disgrace among the people.’
It’s ok to enjoy the humour in this passage, there’s plenty of it, from ‘absurdity’ of the elderly couple having a baby, to Zechariah being struck dumb and his attempt at charades – how would you mime an angel telling you your wife will become pregnant?! But although there’s plenty of humour there’s also a serious strand through it. God has taken away Elizabeth’s ‘disgrace’ as she puts it. He has also shown his grace and favour to his people, they might be an occupied people and so ‘disgraced’ amongst the nations, but he is with them. He also shows us his blessing through the one that Zechariah and Elizabeth’s son was sent to announce, Jesus, through whom we are brought from disgrace to grace, from darkness to light.
Thank you Father that despite our failings and weakness, you have shown us favour and given us status.