“His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied: ‘Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because He has come and has redeemed His people. He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David.’” - Luke 1:67-69
Silence isn’t something that the modern world is used to. Silence has been labeled uncomfortable, awkward, or boring. Imagine 400 years of it. That is what the people of God endured in their relationship with Him. Not a word for 400 years. God had said all He intended to say through the Old Testament prophets…and then He chose to give His people 400 years for it to sink in.
Then, at just the right time, God broke His silence through an old man named Zechariah (not the same Zechariah who was an Old Testament prophet). His message, even today, helps us to put Christmas into perspective. Zechariah’s words announced the fulfillment of a covenant that God had made thousands of years before with Abraham. He prophesied about God’s faithfulness, God’s forgiveness, and the purpose of His people. This is still the meaning of Christmas today.
Zechariah looked forward to the first Christmas, and we look back to the first Christmas. Regardless of where we fall in the timeline of God’s amazing plan, His message through Zechariah is the same. We celebrate a Savior Who fulfilled a promise and brought forgiveness of sins. Zechariah, filled with God’s Spirit, announced that the baby in Mary’s womb was Israel’s “horn of salvation,” raised up by God to redeem their stubborn hearts and die for their rebellion – and for ours.
We cannot separate Christ’s birth from His death and His resurrection. The manger, the cross, the empty tomb, and the 33 years that fell in between are all part of God’s amazing plan of redemption. I pray we haven’t gotten so used to words like glory, peace, joy, salvation, and forgiveness that we have grown numb to the splendor of it all. Most of us know many Christmas carols by heart. We have been singing them for years. But have the words penetrated our hearts? “Joy to the world. The LORD has come! Let earth receive her King. Let every heart prepare Him room, and heaven and nature sing.” “O holy night! The stars are brightly shining. It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth. Long lay the world in sin and error pining, til’ He appeared and the soul felt its worth. Fall on your knees! O hear the angels’ voices! O night divine. O night when Christ was born.”
As we celebrate His birth, may we reflect on the totality of His life. Jesus the baby, Jesus the man, Jesus the teacher and friend. From that first infant cry to the last agonizing cry on the cross, the Word became flesh to live with us…and in us. This perspective will change the way we live all year. He is why we celebrate!
Father, Your plan to redeem this fallen world is amazing. Please forgive me for “going through the motions” of Christmas and forgetting the majesty of it all. Help me to quiet my heart and mind so that I won’t miss the meaning of Christmas. In Jesus’ name, amen