Yes, you’ve most likely heard this story before.
The Christmas story is shared in Matthew, Mark, John, and of course, Luke.
But, this “greatest story ever told” is worth telling from each of the disciple’s perspectives.
So, I want to take a moment to present the promise of the birth of John the Baptist which sets the beginning of the coming of Christ.
Christmas Story: Promise of John the Baptist’s Birth as Told by Luke
Promise to Zachariah
“Since many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, it seemed fitting to me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in an orderly sequence, most excellent Theophilus; so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught.
John the Baptist’s Birth Foretold
In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah; and he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth.
They were both righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord.
And yet they had no child, because Elizabeth was infertile, and they were both advanced in years.
Now it happened that while he was performing his priestly service before God in the appointed order of his division, according to the custom of the priestly office, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense.
And the whole multitude of the people were in prayer outside at the hour of the incense offering.
Now an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the altar of incense.
Zechariah was troubled when he saw the angel, and fear gripped him.
But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall name him John.
You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice over his birth.
For he will be great in the sight of the Lord; and he will drink no wine or liquor, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit while still in his mother’s womb.
And he will turn many of the sons of Israel back to the Lord their God.
And it is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of fathers back to their children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
Zechariah said to the angel, “How will I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in her years.”
The angel answered and said to him, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news.
And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day when these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled at their proper time.”
And meanwhile the people were waiting for Zechariah, and were wondering at his delay in the temple.
But when he came out, he was unable to speak to them; and they realized that he had seen a vision in the temple, and he repeatedly made signs to them, and remained speechless.
When the days of his priestly service were concluded, he went back home.
Now after these days his wife Elizabeth became pregnant, and she kept herself in seclusion for five months, saying, “This is the way the Lord has dealt with me in the days when He looked with favor upon me, to take away my disgrace among people.” – Luke 1:1-25 (NASB)
A Christmas Timeline
For many people, the Christmas story of how Jesus was born in a stable is the only version they will ever hear. It’s on the Hallmark™ card, right?
But, today I want to start at the beginning of Luke so you can get a feeling for the timeline of events that take place before the birth of Jesus.
And, as we know, John the Baptist will later play a very important role in the unfolding events.
Gabriel is one of only two angels mentioned by name in the Bible.
The other is Michael. So, this pair must have had a high status in the kingdom.
Zechariah prayed for many years to be blessed with a son and had probably all but given up at this stage in his life.
He and Elizabeth were old and past their childbearing years.
But, this did not stop him from praying for a miracle; which happened!
God answered the prayers of Zechariah in His own time which meant He had to deliver the impossible task of giving an old woman a child.
A Child is Promised — “… and you shall name him John”
But, this was not just any child.
This child would grow to become the announcer of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior to the world!
Quite an honor!
John would also have the honor of later baptizing Jesus.
This story begins the prophesy foretold in the Old Testament about the coming of the Messiah.
The Names: John And Jesus
Both of these names were given by God and have special meaning in the years to come.
John means: “the Lord is gracious”
Jesus means: “the Lord saves”
So, both names are described as John and Jesus will later become.
John the Nazarene
No strong drink is one of the Nazirite vows.
This vow was ordered by Gabriel to Zachariah for his son John.
In fact, John would become almost identical to an Old Testament prophet when he later directs people to repent and return to God.
Events in Time
This timeline shows how the future is falling into place.
It’s no coincidence that the old couple, Zachariah and Elizabeth, were blessed with a child who would grow to tell about Christ
— The Christ who would come into the world to save us.
A Time to Reflect..
With all the shopping and secular celebration to come during the holiday season, let’s pause and keep in mind this story from Luke and the real reason for the Christmas season.
Love in Christ & Merry Christmas!
If you have never made the decision to receive the love and life-changing experience of Jesus Christ, please take a moment to Read This for more information.