If you’re like me, you admire some famous person about whom you find yourself thinking, “Imagine what he or she could do for God with that kind of talent.” But the people God uses aren’t necessarily powerful or prominent or popular. They’re ordinary people who demonstrate extraordinary faith and faithfulness. And because of that, God shows them favor.
In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years.—Luke 1:5-7
Zechariah was an old man who, along with his wife, had served the Lord faithfully all his life. Yet what might have been his biggest prayer request had gone unanswered. But God saw his faithfulness. And when Zechariah was chosen to burn incense before the Lord in the temple, the angel Gabriel appeared with a news flash.
“Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John . . . And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God . . . —Luke 1:13, 16
Soon after, Zechariah and Elizabeth became the parents of John the Baptist, a man filled with the Holy Spirit from the time he was in his mother’s womb (Luke 1:15). It was John who would “make ready for the Lord a people prepared” (vs. 17).
While Elizabeth was pregnant with John, her relative Mary—a teenaged virgin who was betrothed to be married—also received a visit from the angel Gabriel.
“Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”—Luke 2:30-33
Zechariah, Elizabeth, Mary and her husband Joseph led lives of quiet faithfulness. Their names didn’t appear in headlines, and their faces didn’t adorn the covers of albums or self-help books. They remained focused on serving where they were. As a result, they received life-changing and history-altering assignments from God. For Zechariah and Elizabeth, theirs was the ultimate in late-in-life pregnancy and first-time parenting for a child who would make the way for the Lord. For Mary, hers was the ultimate crisis pregnancy, a situation condemned by the ancient world but one that resulted in no condemnation for Jesus’ followers (Romans 8:1).
Jesus came the first time to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). He’s coming again, this time to execute judgment and establish His kingdom on earth (Matthew 13:40-42; 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10; Revelation 20). Will we be found faithful and receive His favor on that day?