Reading through Luke chp. 1 for a second time in recent days, I noticed a couple of things that I didn't know the first time through. This often happens and this isn't the main thrust of this entry but I think that it is valuable to note.
One of the chief things that I noticed is the tone of Luke's writing, possibly it has something to do with the translation or maybe the English syntax makes everything seem similar, but I noticed and thought that this first entry in Luke's Gospel sounded a lot like some of the earlier books of the OT that I am most familiar with. I have been reading through the OT in the Message version of the Bible, and am currently stalled in early 1 Samuel. The part where Elizabeth mentions the baby jumping in her womb sounded really familiar and it seemed like something that could have happened in the OT. If you knew nothing about the Biblical writers, one would easily assume that one person wrote the whole thing, or it was all written in cohoots with each other so tonal similarities seems reasonable. But as I understand the process of the Bible coming together, it happened over thousands of years through many different authors in completely different contexts writing to completely different audiences. That Luke initially sounds like the OT and I would feel ridiculous if I did not do my studying and this incident actually happens in the OT, but the way it is worded the way it is mentioned twice, it rings of Biblical revelation.
The other thing that struck me was that Zechariah and Elizabeth were considered righteous according to the Law and blameless. The verses here go into great length to show how righteous this couple was, and I couldn't understand why. I assume some of the most obvious reasons are probably the right one. In order for Zechariah to enter the temple and not to end up dead in God's presence in the holiest of holies was probably important for the rest of the story, but why were we suppose to know this. The first thing that I think is that we understand that in our covenant relationship with God, there is no way for us to be blameless before him. We are born into sin, and in sin we will die returning to dust, which I assume is no different for Jews of this time, Jesus time, or Biblical antiquity, but what is different is the process that Jews went through to become clean. There was a time, and it could happen daily or monthly, however often you sacrificed at the temple, on Yom Kippur that you could truly be considered blameless. When Jesus comes and says if you look at a woman lustfully you sin in your heart, we are all done (speaking for men everywhere), and thus we can never be considered blameless. I wonder what that means for us practically as Christians, shouldn't that be a predisposition toward humility, that we are so aware of how short we fall of the command, 'Be holy as your Father in heaven is holy'.
This is obviously not the case.
So I wonder what we can take from understanding Zecharias as being blameless...I am not and i I don't know anyone who is. Christians are often accused of thinking that they are blameless. Ok let me back up. We who have the hardest standard to live by on earth are considered uptight and hypocritical. The only way we can ever be considered holy is because of an action we had no part in, and if we were considered to have a part in it we were the ones shouting 'Crucify him', ok - so we are the hypocritical ones, the judgemental ones, the biased - prejudice- intolerant ones...that can't be right...
Well, that's what the world thinks of us.
Thats what I think of myself. Everytime I drive past a stranded car. Every time I have an opportunity to tell someone my story and fudge it a little because I don't feel up for the debate. Every time I get impatient with my wife, my brother, my friend, and my neighbor. I am a hypocrite. To steal a line from Paul and to take it vastly out of context - a Pharisee of Pharisees. So no I am not blameless like Zechariah or Elizabeth for that matter, but I hope I never think I am either.