As we have seen in the Old Testament's prophecies, the birth of Christ was foretold long before his actual arrival. The genealogy of Christ traveled through some of the most famous characters in biblical history – from Abraham and Sarah through Boaz and Ruth, King David, and finally to Mary and Joseph.

The apostle Luke documents the birth of Christ's forerunner – John the Baptist.

Many people know the story of John the Baptist, but here's a recap in case it has been a while since you read the narrative.

A man and woman (Zechariah and Elizabeth) were faithful servants of the Lord serving in the temple. Now, Elizabeth was a relative of Mary (Jesus' mother). She wanted to have children but was unable to have them.

One day, while Zechariah performed his priestly duties in the temple, the angel Gabriel came to see him. Like with most angelic encounters, he was a bit afraid. The same thing happened to Mary when he visited her, but I am jumping ahead in the story.

The angel told him that he and Elizabeth would be having a baby, and they were to name him John. Well, needless to say, he didn't exactly believe the angel because they were up there in years.

For his doubt, he lost his voice for nine months until the baby would be born. Well, not long after the visit from the angel, Elizabeth became pregnant, and they were on their way to having a son.

Shortly after this visit with Zechariah, the angel Gabriel visited Mary and told her she would become pregnant, and she was to name the baby Jesus.

Now Mary was between the ages of 12 and 14, and as was customary, she was engaged to a man named Joseph. She asked how this was possible as she was not intimate with her betrothed.

Gabriel said this would be an immaculate conception, and so her journey to motherhood began.

During Mary's pregnancy, she went to see Elizabeth, which was an 80-100 mile journey from her hometown. When Mary arrived, Elizabeth's baby jumped for joy in her womb at the sound of her voice.

Both Elizabeth and Mary understand the precious children they were carrying were a blessing from the Lord. I wonder if they fully understood the impact these two men would have on the world?

Nevertheless, these women were chosen for a special mission from the Lord.

Well, it came time for Elizabeth to have her baby. Mind you, her doubting husband had not regained his voice yet, and here comes the baby.

This was quite the event, her family and neighbors knew she wanted children, and now she was having one. The townspeople thought they would name the child after the father, Zechariah, as was customary of time.

When Elizabeth announced the child's name would be John, they questioned it since no one in their family had that name. They proceeded to ask Zechariah his thoughts on the matter.

“He asked for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s astonishment he wrote, ‘His name is John.'” — Luke 1:63

Once he wrote those words, his voice was miraculously returned to him, and he began praising the Lord. Well, word began to spread around town and the region of his birth.

“Everyone who heard this wondered about it, asking, ‘What then is this child going to be?' For the Lord’s hand was with him.” — Luke 1:66

John was the forerunner to Jesus, and he was being prepared for a special mission that ultimately would end up in his beheading. While he grew up, the Lord's spirit was with him and prepared him for his public ministry.

Application

God has an amazing plan for our lives if we invite Him to be part of it. Elizabeth and Mary were faithful servants of the Lord Most High. The children they carried were not because of the good deeds they did or something that they earned. God chose them to carry His message to the world.

In Elizabeth's case, God blessed her with a precious child who helped lay the foundation for Jesus' earthly ministry. Even though she was barren, she never stopped praising the Lord.

As we will see, Mary still had a journey in front of her before the Christ child would be revealed to the world.

Spend a few minutes asking God to reveal to you the plan He has for you.

Prayer

Lord, thank you for the blessing of family near and far. We ask you to watch over them, guide them, and bless them this Christmas season even though it looks different than previous years. Please help us to live out Your love this Christmas season. Amen!

The Christmas Gift – Advent Series

 


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About

Hi, I'm Dave Anthold. I am a small group leader, short-term missionary, and visual storyteller. You can read my story here.

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