It is Luke's glorious juxtaposition that captures me about these two lesser-known characters in the birth-narrative:
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.They were both upright and blameless. But they had no children. And they were old. Many women had first children as teenagers In a culture where giving birth to children was the badge and sign of God's blessing, to be barren is to be considered cursed.
For Elizabeth (and to some extent Zechariah) it would be in today's culture like being un-employed your whole life. You would wonder what was wrong with the person.
How many years? How many tears? How much waiting? How many months of not being pregnant? How many friends who became pregnant along the way while she was left behind? How many years of no can one person stand? How many prayers go un-answered?
At some point, for most of us, we turn to other gods. At some point, we'd give up. At some point, I'd give up on this God. He's not doing what I want. What I want is a good thing. Ergo, this God's not working for me, let's try something else.
But these two, they're upright and blameless. Not just as teenagers. Not just through their twenties. Not just through their thirties. Not just through their forties. Perhaps through their fifties. Perhaps, even, into their sixties.
Upright and blameless. Even in the midst of feeling cursed. For decades.
These people, they bless me. And they point me to Jesus. He's the one who's finally perfect, upright, blameless even when I am not. I find myself pitifully falling short, even as I strive to imitate their faith in a much more materially blessed life.
But I'm glad in the one who came to get me, even when I fall short. My life will never be described with this same glorious juxtaposition. But in Jesus, I find myself on the end of blessing any way.