Hope Has a Name
December 4, 2023
“But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John.” Luke 1:13
According to the dictionary, the word “hope” can be defined three ways. Hope is a feeling of expectation, a person or thing that saves, or the grounds for believing something good could happen. Depending on our circumstances we may experience these different aspects of hope in our lives. For some, hope is wishing for a good grade or a new job. For others, it is a newborn baby after years of loss. Hope could be a treatment plan for a cancer diagnosis or tiny moments of joy and laughter at the first Christmas without a loved one. Each of these are small glimpses at a larger hope given through one person, Jesus.
For Zechariah and Elizabeth hope came in the form of an unexpected son. Luke 1 tells us that Zecharaiah and Elizabeth were advanced in age and childless. Zechariah was a priest and was one day chosen to burn incense in the temple. For a priest, this was a great honor and a once in a lifetime opportunity that he took seriously.
Picture Zechariah in the temple, with his head bowed in reverence, cherishing the moment. After praying, he ever so slightly lifts his eyes and is shocked to see an angel. The angel calms his fears and declares that God has heard his prayer for a son. Zechariah is confused at the message. Yes, he and his wife had prayed for years for a child but as they got older they slowly gave up hope. Logic and his circumstances cause him to doubt the possibility. Yet, despite Zechariah’s disbelief, God is still working. The angel declares that Elizabeth will have a son, who will prepare people for the coming of the Lord.
Months later the promise is fulfilled when Zechariah and Elizabeth name their newborn son John, just as the angel instructed. Not only did John bring Zechariah and Elizabeth hope in their barren state, but he was sent by God to declare a message of hope to the entire world, fulfilling the prophecies of the Old Testament (Matthew 3:3). John himself wasn’t the hope but he never stopped pointing directly to the hope found in the Messiah.
Jesus is our only hope and he fits all three definitions of the word. He is the reason we joyfully anticipate Christmas. He is the one who brings us life and salvation, and because of him we can look toward our future with joy no matter our present circumstances. Hope has a name, and it is Jesus. Jesus is our hope and in his love for us he sprinkles the light of his grace in our lives each day.
Like Zechariah and Elizabeth we will all have times when our hearts are heavy. But even when circumstances seem hopeless, God is at work. He never stops caring and his love never fails. The birth of John the Baptist reminds us that no situation is hopeless because God sent Jesus to be our living hope.
As you reflect on the hope of Christmas this week, consider listening to the song “Hope has a Name”. The lyrics beautifully remind us that Jesus is our hope, and brings light into our darkness.
Heavenly Father, We thank you for the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth. Thank you for the way you worked through John the Baptist to declare to the world the hope found in Christ. As we go through this season, help us to cling to Jesus as our hope. When we are worn down by our circumstances, remind us that you hear us and are working. May our hearts be so filled with the hope of Christ, that it overflows to those around us. It is in the name of Jesus, our living hope, that we pray, Amen.
Spiritual Care Coordinator
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