Spontaneous Praise after Hearing a Message from God

Zechariah breaks into spontaneous praise
Image source: LUMO Project

We begin reading Luke’s Gospel in today’s Bible reading.* Unlike John and Matthew, Dr. Luke was not an eyewitness to Jesus. He had to interview people and learn a lot about Jesus before he could write his Gospel. Dr. Luke spent considerable time traveling with Paul and he records these adventures in his second book, Acts.

Luke begins his gospel addressing Theophilus. He is only mentioned here and at the beginning of Acts. His name means lover of God. Some have suggested that Theophilus may have financed the writing of the Gospel and the Acts. But that is speculation.

Luke tells us about Zechariah and Elizabeth. Elizabeth and Jesus’ mother Mary were relatives. Zechariah and Elizabeth were along in years and had not had any children. Dr. Luke gives us the impression that Elizabeth, like Sarai in the Old Testament, was postmenopausal. Both Sarai and Elizabeth experienced a miraculous conception. But if these women experienced a miraculous conception, Mary’s was extra-special! Dr. Luke tells us that Mary was not just a young woman kind of virgin, but she was a virgin kind of virgin; she had never had relations with a man.

Both Zechariah and Mary asked Gabriel a question. The question sounds similar, but they were very different. “How can I know this?” Zechariah asked the angel. “For I am an old man, and my wife is well along in years.” Luke 1:18 (CSB) Mary asks, “How can this be, since I have not had sexual relations with a man?” Luke 1:34 (CSB)

Zechariah asked, How can I know this is true? and Mary asked, How is this possible? Both Zechariah and Mary accepted their role in God’s plan. Zechariah had to pay for his question with nine months of silence.

Can you imagine Zechariah’s experience with the angel in the Most Holy Place in the Temple and then not being able to tell anyone about it for nine months? I’m sure he had a lot of time to reflect on the nature of his desire to be absolutely sure that Gabriel was telling the truth.

One additional point I want to draw from Luke 1. Elizabeth is five months pregnant when Mary visits and tells her that she’s pregnant, too. Upon learning that Mary is pregnant, Elizabeth, feels John kick (remember that Gabriel said that John would be filled with the Holy Spirit before he was born (Luke 1:15). Elizabeth is midway through her second trimester and feels John’s reaction as he is filled with the Holy Spirit. Note: The first person to celebrate the announcement of Jesus’ conception is a pre-born baby! Given today’s political climate and the never-ending debate over abortion (including second and third-trimester abortions), I think it’s very important to highlight this encounter.

Finally, note that Mary and Zechariah burst into praise as they remember their encounter with Gabriel.


Zechariah and Mary had their encounters with God’s “messenger” (that’s what “angel” means) and they couldn’t help but break into praise.

Spontaneous praise should be a normal response
to hearing God’s message.

When was the last time you heard a message from God and you couldn’t help but burst into spontaneous praise? Maybe you need to look back over Luke 1 and let God speak to you.

As with Elizabeth, God knows your situation. He cares. And He’s big enough to do something about your situation. He may bring a miracle. He may use some type of therapy. Or He may do something else that He sees as being better than that.

Remember that you can trust God to work together all things so that you would be more like Jesus. (Romans 8:28-29)

* Today we are reading Luke 1.

This devotional was originally published June 27, 2019.

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