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Second Midweek in Advent

Luke 1:39-45,56

James T. Batchelor

Wednesday of Second Sunday in Advent
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church  
Hoopeston, IL

view DOC file

Wed, Dec 12, 2007
Wed of Second Sunday in Advent

Standard LSB A Readings:
First: Isaiah 11:1-10
Epistle: Rom 15:4-13
Gospel: Matt 3:1-12
Psalm: Psalm 72:1-7


David was the king who established Jerusalem as the capital city of Israel.  It was his hope to make Jerusalem the religious and political center of the nation.  His dream did not come to full reality until his son Solomon built the temple in Jerusalem.

During King David's reign, he brought the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem.  However, his first attempt to bring the ark to Jerusalem ended in disaster.  God's law commanded that the Ark was to ride on the shoulders of the Levites, but David put it on a cart.  One of the animals pulling the cart stumbled and someone reached out to steady the Ark on the cart.  That person died on the spot.  So we read in our Old Testament lesson that David was not willing to take the ark of the LORD into the city of David. But David took it aside to the house of Obed-edom the Gittite.

The Ark of the Covenant was one of the ways that God chose to dwell with His people.  The Old Testament reading tells us that the LORD blessed Obed-edom and all his household.  This blessing came because the Ark of the LORD dwelt in his house.

During the nine months preceding His birth, God revealed Himself in the womb of the Virgin Mary.  In a way, the Virgin Mary was the Ark of the LORD.  This evening's Gospel tells us that God blessed the house of Zechariah when Mary came to assist with Elizabeth's pregnancy.

It has been said that a family turns a house into a home. The gracious Presence of the LORD turns a house into a temple. Such was the sacred situation when Mary, the blessed Ark who has NOT been touched by human hands, carried the unborn, recently incarnate Christ into the House of Zechariah.  In this way, the House of Zechariah was no longer just a home.  It was the place where the Divine dwells.  It became a temple of God.

How gracious God is to bring these two miracle mothers together in one place.  Elizabeth who was barren and well beyond the age of childbearing meets Mary who has known no man.  The old barren woman and the young virgin are both with child.  As a result, they are bursting with the joyous Good News.

Even their unborn children join in the celebration.  As the last of the Old Testament prophets in Elizabeth's womb heard the greeting from the Mother of the LORD, he did the dance of joy. 

The LORD entered the house of Zechariah and the place became a Temple of the Most High.  But who are these within the walls of this house that is now a temple?

First of all, there is Zechariah the sinner.  When an angel of the LORD appeared to him and told over the hill Zechariah that he and aged Elizabeth would have a son and were to name him John, the old priest [Luke 1:18-20] said to the angel, "How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years." 19 And the angel answered him, "I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. 20 And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time."

Zechariah represents all those who doubt the promises of God and question the messengers of the Word who were called and sent to them to bring them the Good News.  They hear the Word of the Gospel and ask, "How shall I know that this Jesus is true God?  How shall I know that Christ atoned for all my sins?  How shall I know that I am really forgiven?  How shall I know that Jesus rose from the dead?  How shall I know that the LORD is preparing a place for me in Paradise?  There have been times that all of us have been like Zechariah and doubted God's Good News and questioned His messenger.

The LORD entered the house of Zechariah and the place became a Temple of the Most High.  But who are these within the walls of this house that is now a temple?

What about Elizabeth?  The Bible says nothing about any specific sin on her part.  Never the less, the psalmist says, [Psalm 14:2-3] "The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God.  They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one.

We all have hidden sins - those sins that are deep dark secrets.  We may be all sweetness and light on the outside, but only we and God know what is truly happening in our heart.  Our sins may not be public knowledge, but they are damaging never the less.

The LORD entered the house of Zechariah and the place became a Temple of the Most High.  But who are these within the walls of this house that is now a temple?

What about Mary?  After all, she is the mother of God.  Yet she confessed her sin and her need for a savior when she said, [Luke 1:46-47] "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior "

Well then, what about John.  He wasn't even born yet.  He is a miracle child born to Zechariah and Elizabeth in their old age.  Even he carries the image of original sin that we all ultimately inherit from Adam.  As the psalmist says, [Psalm 51:5] Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.

None of these people can contribute anything to the blessing in the house of Zechariah.  The house of Zechariah is blessed because the LORD God is graciously present within it.  Although the Incarnate and unborn Son of God is no bigger than a peanut, He turns the house of Zechariah into a temple of the Most High. 

Mary spoke the Word of her Savior within her and magnified the LORD.  She is NOT saved because she bears the burden of the Son of God in her womb, but because the Son of God bore her sins and their burdens to the cross for her.

Elizabeth heard the Word of God's Advent and the Holy Spirit filled her so that she exclaimed that Mary is the mother of her LORD.  Elizabeth's LORD and Savior entered the house and she was in His Presence.

John heard the Word and the Holy Spirit filled him with the gift of faith so that he jumped for joy. Truly, [Psalm 118:23] This is the Lord's doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.

As for Zechariah, he heard the Word that blessed his house.  He pondered all that he heard from Gabriel, Mary and Elizabeth.  Although he was silent, he was living in God's grace and mercy.  On the eighth day after the birth of his only son, God will open the old man's mouth and he will speak. Of first importance will be the blessedness of the Advent and Visitation of the LORD.  [Luke 1:68] "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David, as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old "

Those three months in the House of Zechariah, while it was a temple of the LORD, were surely some of the most joyous and blessed days shared by all, especially Elizabeth and Mary.

As [2 Samuel 6:11] "the ark of the LORD remained in the house of Obed-edom the Gittite three months, and the LORD blessed Obed-edom and all his household," so Mary remained with Elizabeth about three months and returned to her home.  Mary took the road down from the hill country to her home in the town of Nazareth in Galilee.  Joseph, her betrothed, is there.  Caesar Augustus has issued a decree.  Within six months the Incarnate Son of God will be journeying on the Judean road from Nazareth to the city of David which is called Bethlehem.  There God will make another place into a temple.  Amen.

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