We are so close to celebrating the birth of Jesus, our Savior! I keep reflecting on the story of his coming; standing in wonder as I think about all that took place that time, thousands of years ago. Simply looking up at the clear night sky, seeing those stars sparkle warmly in the cold night air--it's incredible to think that the Savior came under that same dark sky.
Next week we celebrate his birth and we'll explore this special event Christmas weekend. However, significant events took place leading up to the birth of Jesus among his own family. It all started with the appearance of an angel to a priest.
There was a priest of old age named Zechariah who was married to Elizabeth; they had no children. Luke 1:6-7 claims that they both walked in righteousness but were childless. They were those godly people who served faithfully and loved well--the kind always at church serving others--but did not have the one thing they wanted more than anything in the world. A child.
In his old age, Zechariah was chosen among lots to be the priest to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. This was an important moment because a priest might do this once in their life. It was a big deal to say the least!
While Zechariah was in the temple, doing his priestly duty, the angel Gabriel appeared to him. This was a momentous occasion because an angel had not appeared for hundreds of years. Heaven had been quiet for a long time before this moment but something big was coming!
You can imagine the feelings rushing over Zechariah in that moment. And to hear the angel say that he and his wife were going to bear a child who would turn many to the Lord. Can you imagine the magnitude of such a moment?! I don't know if Zechariah could either because when he asked to know how this could be, he ended up losing his voice until the birth of John!
That's right--Zechariah and Elizabeth were the parents of John the Baptist. John was the forerunner to the Messiah and according to Jesus, the greatest man to be born.
Flash forward six months and a young relative of Elizabeth's was about to get her own encounter with Gabriel. Mary, a young girl betrothed to an upright man named Joseph, was visited by Gabriel and given great (albeit shocking) news. Mary was going to have a son and this child would save the world from their sins. Joseph received a visit as well (so that he would go forward in marrying Mary), and perhaps one of my favorite verses I've read in this series was shared:
Three people in six months received great news from Heaven! God was beginning His great work to save mankind and excitement was brewing. The height of this excitement culminated when Mary and Elizabeth got together for the first time since both had conceived a child.
In Luke 1 we get a peek into their first meeting. As they welcome each other, the baby in Elizabeth's womb leapt and Elizabeth herself was filled with the Holy Spirit. How exciting! John, in his mother's womb, leapt when brought into an encounter with the baby Jesus in Mary's womb. I bet it was a beautiful and exciting moment for the women--one an adolescent and one well in years, but both with child.
These exciting events, before the birth of John and Jesus, conclude with a great exclamation of praise from Mary, called The Magnificat.
We're on the brink of remembering a great event, much like these people we explored above were on the brink of the most exciting event in history.
This week, take some time to reflect on the significance of the birth of Christ. What did it mean for people thousands of years ago, what did it mean for mankind, and what does it means for you personally. Jesus was coming, and not just for all, but for YOU!