One of the Bible accounts we don’t read much during Christmas is that of the birth of John the Baptist. It is a story of great hope and a miraculous birth, of faith, grace, and perseverance. It is the story of God’s plan to redeem humanity. And it is the story of God’s plan for each of us.
Just before Jesus was born, His cousin, later known as John the Baptist, was born. Who were his parents? They were named Zacharias and Elizabeth, and they were old. Really old! Here is what Luke says about them: "But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both advanced in years" Luke 1:7.
At that time, it was important to have children, and not having any was seen as a sign of judgment from God. They had to live with the constant judgment of their own people, not to mention the disappointment this must have caused. But they still had hope! How do I know? Because they continued to live the way God wanted them to live; they were servants. Here is what it says in the verse just before, "They were both righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord." Luke 1:6.
Not only that, but they also kept working in the temple. "Now it happened that while he was performing his priestly service before God in the appointed order of his division…" Luke 1:8. This is the verse just after Luke tells us they were old.
They served, they obeyed, and they worshipped. They were people of faith, so they had the eternal hope that the gospel provides. But it was not just a hope of "someday, somehow", but a real hope of answered prayers. Here is what it says after the angel appeared to Zacharias, "24 After these days Elizabeth his wife became pregnant, and she kept herself in seclusion for five months, saying, 25 "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 men."" Luke 1:24-25.
This all happens just before Jesus' birth. John became the prophet sent before Jesus to announce His arrival, just as his birth occurred before Jesus.
How does this apply to us today? By living like John’s parents - keeping their faith in the face of disappointment and the judgment of their own people, praying and staying faithful to God, not giving up hope. Their lives are a great example for us to follow.
So, during the time of the Christmas celebration, remember all that God has given you, and celebrate. Celebrate the great hope that God has given you.