Christmas Story Part One: Imperfect, Yet Blameless
The story of Christmas includes Zechariah and Elizabeth. Elizabeth was the cousin of Mary the mother of Jesus. In Luke 1:6, the Scripture describes both Elizabeth and Zechariah as righteous and blameless. If we focus on Zechariah, we see that although he was righteous and considered blameless he was imperfect. This is a good thing to remember as people of faith.
While performing his priestly duties in the temple an angel appeared to Zechariah. The angel announced that his wife Elizabeth would have a child and his name would be called John. Zechariah and Elizabeth were not young. The possibility of having a child so late in life coupled with naming this promised son a non-ancestral name was very hard for Zechariah to accept. He essentially cross-examined the angel. This questioning was considered unbelief to God.
The angel countered this unbelief by making Zechariah unable to speak until his promised son was born. That is, until Zechariah had a chance to realize that nothing is too hard for God and to demonstrate his obedience by naming his son John, a non-ancestral name. We know this son as John the Baptist, a prophet who eventually paved the way for the ministry of Jesus Christ.
The encouraging lesson here is God forgave Zechariah for his faithlessness, as I suspect was done several times in his life. Yet, he was characterized as righteous and blameless. Although we are far from perfect, we can be counted blameless. The marginalization of our missteps and the forgiveness of our sins is at the heart of the Christmas Story. No wonder it is a part of the Christmas narrative in the Book of Luke. This teaches us we can fall short and still be considered blameless. This is how it works for the people of faith.
Joseph C. Hutchison