57 Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. 58 And her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. 59 And on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child. And they would have called him Zechariah after his father, 60 but his mother answered, “No; he shall be called John.” 61 And they said to her, “None of your relatives is called by this name.” 62 And they made signs to his father, inquiring what he wanted him to be called. 63 And he asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” And they all wondered. 64 And immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God. 65 And fear came on all their neighbors. And all these things were talked about through all the hill country of Judea, 66 and all who heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, “What then will this child be?” For the hand of the Lord was with him.
67 And his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying,
68 “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
for he has visited and redeemed his people
69 and has raised up a horn of salvation for us
in the house of his servant David,
70 as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
71 that we should be saved from our enemies
and from the hand of all who hate us;
72 to show the mercy promised to our fathers
and to remember his holy covenant,
73 the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us
74 that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies,
might serve him without fear,
75 in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
76 And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
77 to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the
forgiveness of their sins,
78 because of the tender mercy of our God,
whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high
79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the
shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
80 And the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day of his public appearance to Israel. — Luke 1:57–80 (ESV)
After months of silence (a true gift to Elizabeth), Zechariah’s speech was restored. His doubt was transformed into a joyful declaration of true obedience. Elizabeth, who had just become a mother for the first time, was being bombarded by her well-intended family members who thought they knew better than she did. This was Zechariah’s moment to be a man, to love his wife and to protect her from this unnecessary family drama.
As family members were busy second-guessing Elizabeth’s choice of name for hew newborn son, Zechariah, unable to speak, wrote out the name of the child… J-O-H-N. It’s as if Zechariah had learned his lesson. No longer would he use his words to second-guess God’s plans or power. Instead, he would use his words to obey. His son’s name would be John because that is what God wanted (Luke 1:13).
And then it happened. After months of silence and contemplation, Zechariah burst out into a poem/song of joy and celebration. What did John’s birth mean? Yes, God had heard and answered Zechariah’s prayers. But so much more was going on and Zechariah knew it. God was making good on his promise to Abraham (Luke 1:72–73)! What God’s people had spent centuries waiting for was finally happening! Jesus was coming, and John would rally the troops (John 1:22–23)!
You see, Christmas isn’t a story in the New Testament. It’s not even a story in the Bible as much as it is THE story of the Bible.
You see, Christmas isn’t a story in the New Testament. It’s not even a story in the Bible as much as it is THE story of the Bible. When Adam and Eve fell in the garden, God promised a Messiah who would one day come and rescue the world from sin and death. God made a covenant with Abraham that through his family, the Jewish people, a Savior would come, bringing salvation and blessing to the whole world (Genesis 12:1-3). This is why the angel proclaimed that the birth of Jesus was “good news of great joy...for all the people” (Luke 2:10).
As Christmas Day quickly approaches us, may we look back at God’s story in awe and wonder. All of history was leading up to that first Christmas morning in which God kept his promise to Abraham. And now, we look to the future with incredible hope and confidence because the manger is in our rearview mirror and the glory of God is before us (Titus 2:11–13). The past, the present, and the future…it’s all about Jesus.
We turn our eyes upon you, Oh gracious Lord.
How far-reaching the love,
How abundant the mercy,
How sweet the freedom,
Of our Good Shepherd.
How easy it should be to follow the Light of the World!
The miraculous arrival happened in such a curious way.
A tiny baby, so simple and yet profound. Weak and lowly,
yet ferocious and mighty. Lionlike and lamblike. A warm,
squirmy, lump of love dusted in a thin, downy fuzz, who
terrified tyrants and threatened to unseat kings.
Immanuel, God with us: the God of Adam, Noah,
Abraham, Moses, and David!
Good news of great joy for all people indeed!
Reawaken our hearts, Oh God, to the wonder of this story,
and let us never tire of hearing it.
Yet, have we forgotten? Left to our own devices, we crave
the imprisonment of our transgressions. Like Zechariah,
we doubt that righteousness is best for us. Though set
free, we crawl back to our shackles as if we’ve forgotten.
Take this affliction from us!
Forgive us for every time we’ve seen godly discipline as
restrictive and not restorative.
Forgive us for every time we crave poison
instead of forgiveness.
Forgive us for every time we’ve disobeyed your
commands, laws, and leading.
Restore our hearts, that we may walk as our Messiah
walked: with eager and joyful obedience.
Ignite within us a newfound passion and motivation to
conform to the will of our Creator.
May every husband use his voice to echo Scripture,
to lead his family toward holiness,
And let every wife lean into his wisdom,
Pressing onward towards stalwart obedience as one.
Preserve the saints as you promise to do,
so that our reverence may be unfaltering
until we reach the promised land.