8One day Zechariah was serving God in the Temple, for his order was on duty that week. 9As was the custom of the priests, he was chosen by lot to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and burn incense. 10While the incense was being burned, a great crowd stood outside, praying.
11While Zechariah was in the sanctuary, an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the incense altar. 12Zechariah was shaken and overwhelmed with fear when he saw him. 13But the angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayer. Your wife, Elizabeth, will give you a son, and you are to name him John.14You will have great joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15for he will be great in the eyes of the Lord. He must never touch wine or other alcoholic drinks. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even before his birth.b 16And he will turn many Israelites to the Lord their God. 17He will be a man with the spirit and power of Elijah. He will prepare the people for the coming of the Lord. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children,c and he will cause those who are rebellious to accept the wisdom of the godly.”
Listen to the type of person this child named John would be. He was destined to make a difference. “Great in the eyes of the Lord.” Dedicated from conception to be pure, never touching alcoholic drinks. Filled with the Holy Spirit while still in the womb. His destiny was to change the hearts of the world, to bring them back to God.
Notice that first John’s relationship to God is described. We know he is special, not because of any of his own characteristics but because he is filled with the Holy Spirit and dedicated to God. Then, and only then, the angel tells Zechariah what John is destined to do. I must always remember that my relationship to God determines what I do and my success or failure.
And finally, note that an angel is sent to announce the birth of John, who would be “great in the sight of the Lord”. No angels announce the birth of presidents, kings, business tycoons or athletes. People the world sees as great are born without notice or fanfare. I need to remember what makes someone truly great.
Lord, change me and give me the courage to be change. Help me to be dedicated to you, so you and I can have the relationship you want us to have, so I am the person you intend me to be so I can do the work you intend me to do. Nothing else really matters.
Keep reading and keep praying.