As we complete the backstory of the Holy Spirit we enter the New Testament encountering an amazing priestly family. Zechariah, Elizabeth, John, and Mary, their cousin, were family. Zechariah, whose name means God remembers, married a woman from a priestly line, Elizabeth. Her name means my God swore an oath and they birthed a son known as John the Baptizer whose name means gift of grace. Let’s investigate how the Spirit intricately weaved together these four lives.
When God makes a promise, a covenant, you are assured that one day there will be fulfillment, even if it takes thousands of years. God literally cut a covenant with Abraham, it was a sealed deal, that promised greatness, blessing, and included all the nations of the earth (Gen. 12). Zechariah was a reminder of that coming event: God remembers. He was a good guy and was visited by Gabriel who delivered a message that designated a child to be born to him. Due to Zechariah’s unbelief he was immersed in a hidden state of silence: he couldn’t speak. There’s power in words and God wouldn’t allow any distractions to enter into this divine narrative. After John was born Zechariah was filled with God’s Spirit and the silence was broken as he spoke a powerful prophecy (Luke 1).
Elizabeth also reminds us of the oath sworn with Abraham. She remained hidden until Mary arrived and the gift of grace jumped for joy in her womb. Mary, whose name means bitterness, had experienced the Spirit when Messiah was previously implanted in her womb. Whew! The Third Person was moving rapidly and using this family to foreshadow life in the Spirit for us.
John, the forerunner of Christ, was hidden for many years until his chairos moment arrived and he met his cousin, Jesus. He was ready to move in the spirit and power of Elijah and prepare the hearts of God’s people for His arrival. Repentance and forgiveness were the hallmarks of his message as they should be for us as well.
Zechariah’s priestly family is a picture for us. Priests were mediators who represented their people to God but also represented God to the people: both directions. Their job was to atone for sins, teach intimacy with God, and bring guidance in life. We are also priestly families, royal priests (1 Peter 2:9), that are filled with the Spirit and given gifts to help the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 12) accomplish her mission. Our families are needed in this assignment but as Zechariah, Elizabeth, John, and Mary show us, we can’t do it without the Spirit’s help. The message to our family remains: repentance and forgiveness by the power of the Holy Spirit.
God remembers His promises to you, He has sworn an oath, and the gift of grace, Jesus Christ, has arrived. There may be bitter times in your life but His Spirit will fill you and your family so you can be all He has destined you to be.