Read Luke 1:5-23
"Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. But the angel said to him: 'Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard’"
The scene we read happens in the Temple of Jerusalem long before it was later destroyed in 70AD. The Temple was the place where the Jewish priests offered prayers and animal sacrifices on behalf of the people who flocked there to worship God. We will see the remains of the Temple when we are in Jerusalem, especially the Wailing Wall.
Zachariah the priest had this amazing encounter with an angel whilst it was his turn to offer incense in the inner part of the Temple where only priests were allowed to enter.
This elderly man and his wife, like Abraham and Sarah in the Old Testament, didn’t have any children and they must have prayed many times in the early years that she would not remain childless. So it is not hard to imagine how utterly taken by surprise he was with the angel’s announcement.
And besides that, the child who was promised was going to be an extraordinary man who would prepare the way for Jesus the Messiah.
Zachariah means ‘God remembers'. In other words, God remembers not only the prayer that this couple had prayed but the plan of salvation He had promised throughout the Old Testament - that He would send the Saviour.
Like Zachariah our faith in God is sometimes weak and when He does indeed answer our prayer we are surprised. The angel says the words ‘Do not be afraid’, the first of many other ‘Do not be afraid’ words we find in the first chapters of the gospel of Luke. Entrust your life to the Lord and give Him all your fears again, trusting that in His own time and His own way He will answer your prayer. Pray also for the pilgrimage and each one of your fellow pilgrims, so that we will experience answered prayer throughout our journey.
Lord, prayer is always the means by which you intervene in our life. I lift up my prayer of trust before you and thank you that you are the God who answers prayer as Luke's gospel highlights. Always Lord however, let Your will be done. I pray also for our journey to the Holy Land and for the whole group so that we will have a blessed pilgrimage.