Elizabeth and Zacharias Enter The Christmas Story
Today we meet three people we never see in a nativity scene, but who had incredibly important parts to play in the Christmas story. More than a year and a half before the birth of Christ, Mary's cousin Elizabeth and her husband Zacharias were living lives completely devoted to the Lord. Luke describes them with words like righteous, walking and blameless. The only thing missing was a child.
Then, on one ordinary-turned-extraordinary day, the angel Gabriel came to the temple to speak with Zacharias while he was performing his priestly duties. In the midst of the everyday, his life would change forever, as would yours and mine. This godly couple would receive a son, who would bring them joy in such a special way.
But what does this have to do with Christmas and the birth of Christ? The angel's explanation makes the connection crystal clear.
And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb. And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of their fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. Luke 1:14-17
This child, who would be named John, was part of God's plan to prepare the people for the coming of the Messiah. The angel gave Zacharias a thorough explanation of the special traits this boy would have. Just imagine Zacharias' mind whirling as he heard this outstanding description.
The family would rejoice because they would receive their long-awaited son. This would have been a sweet joy for an older couple who thought they might never conceive.
The Lord Himself would be pleased with the child, and He would lovingly guide his steps all the days of his life.
In the Old Testament, every believer didn't receive the Holy Spirit the way they would following the resurrection of Jesus Christ. For John to be filled - not just a little but clear to the brim - with the Holy Spirit was something miraculous in itself.
This Holy Spirit indwelling would allow John to change the people's dry, dusty hearts by showing them the truth and love of God. What a miraculous gift this would turn out to be.
And imagine being told that your child, a boy you haven't even met yet, would be the forerunner of God's only begotten Son. This special position was given to one man in the entire history of mankind, and these wonderful, godly parents were given the honor of raising him and helping him serve God with all his heart.
Mary would soon visit her cousin Elizabeth and begin to understand the deep importance of this baby who was six months older than her own son. And we can relive the joy and expectation of these verses every time we read and share their story.