The house of Zechariah

In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth (Luke 1:39-40).

So, this house…Part circus tent, part the holiest of holies, I’d be there in a New York minute. Zechariah: He who’d been appointed to serve the Temple and was methodically, mundanely burning incense when the news dropped (v.11). Zechariah: The one whose eyes grew as wide as saucers when Gabriel appeared to say that a child was coming. And oh, make sure to name him John (v.13).

Enter Mary (v.40). This is one heck of a road-trip on her part. I wonder how long it took her to get there. I wonder if Zechariah’s head fell between his hands when he realized that things were only getting zanier. I wonder if anyone was thankful he couldn’t say anything. 

It’s terrible, really, that the old man lost his voice for however many months (v.20). He did what any of us would do, which was to tell the angel that the thought of having a child at this point in their lives was crazy talk. 

If you are feeling as though your household is abnormal, behold two women carrying remarkableness within them, one too young by our standards and one too old by anyone’s estimate, and on the periphery, a man as befuddled as he was mute. Take heart. 

Mary and Elizabeth are standing on some seriously holy ground; not only because of what happens between the two of them over the course of these three months but by virtue of what will go down after Mary leaves. In spite of overly involved neighbors and family (v.58), in spite of the fact that he has no voice, Zechariah will bang on that tablet (v.63). He will declare one frenzied fiery letter at a time that the child’s name will not be Zechariah. HIS NAME IS JOHN.

“Everyone throughout the Judean highlands talked about what had happened (v.65).” I believe it. To borrow a Mary Oliver phrase, the way things unfold at the house of Zechariah nearly kills me with delight.

It’s been said that we have to look back to appreciate the present. Fair enough. This may be mewanting usto look through the windows into the house of Zechariah so as to revel in the moment. Let yourself go to the hill country of Judea. Get swept away by Luke. God tapped this sacred storyteller to do just that.  

Rachel May