Joy to the Barren

from Lynda Lindsey

In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. Both of them were upright in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commandments and regulations blamelessly. But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren; and they were both well along in years. Luke 1:5-7 

The angel Gabriel, speaking to Zechariah: Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. …He will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth…And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—-to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. Luke 1:13(b)-17

Elizabeth, praising God for her pregnancy: “The Lord has done this for me,” she said. “In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people.” Luke 1:25

Zechariah, a Levitical priest, and his wife Elizabeth, were upright in God’s sight; they observed all the Lord’s commands blamelessly. Spiritually and morally above reproach, they were obedient from the heart. But Elizabeth was barren. Not only were Zechariah and Elizabeth childless, they were so old they no longer had any hope of bearing children. Sorrowful, especially in a culture that thought of childlessness as a curse because one was out of favor with God. Zechariah, serving his rotation in the temple, encountered the angel Gabriel, who delivered astounding news. 

God had heard Zechariah’s prayer. Elizabeth would bear a son who would bring joy and delight to his parents and would also be great in the Lord’s sight. Their son, John, would be a powerful influence making ready a people prepared for the Lord. Zechariah, in his astonishment, let his faith slip; humanly speaking, who can blame him? Who continues to pray for children once it’s physically impossible to conceive? So Zechariah would be unable to speak until God’s miracle came to fruition; but Elizabeth’s joy was boundless; her praise probably made up for her husbands temporary silence! 

Barren. Unproductive. Barren lands produce no vegetation, yield no seed, fruit, or crops. Barren humans produce no fruit of the womb, no children. Barren, empty wombs. Barren empty lives, joyless, incomplete, unproductive without a Savior, a Redeemer. And God steps into the gap, achieving the impossible, the miraculous! Elizabeth conceives in her old age; Mary conceives in her virginity. And God’s redemption story continues, bringing joy to the barren! Rejoice, shout, and sing! The Redeemer has come!