God would have it no other way. The miraculous event of sending His Son from heaven to earth for the redemption of man should be accompanied with marvel and mysteries and miracles. Christmas, whether in pretense or in truth, has come again this year, and for over 2,000 years the world has continued to celebrate the season of joy—many for reasons they know, and others for reasons unknown.
But God be praised! The very spelling of “Christmas” begins with “Christ”! Merely saying “Christmas” begins with “Christ”! It is in many ways a miracle that Christmas exists today with so much anti-Christian sentiment spewed by both the liberal and conservative media circus. Thankfully, church assemblies celebrate Christ’s resurrection every Sunday, and wisely so throughout the course of the year. Thankfully, the last weeks of every year are reserved for celebrating Christ’s birth, and wisely so as well. Resurrection has its meaning first because of birth, then because of death. The birth of Jesus would be miraculous enough with the young virgin Mary being found to be with child as announced by the angel Gabriel. But God chose to surround this blessed and holy event with at least twenty-six other miracles—each one pointing to the coming Immanuel, an event unlike any other to take place in our world.
Luke gives us the account of the birth of John the Baptist, a miracle indeed considering Zechariah and Elizabeth were barren and beyond child-bearing years. Gabriel returns to earth’s scene after more than 1,000 years of absence as he announces the plan to the unbelieving father. Struck speechless for unbelief, Zechariah endures nine months with a muted mouth only to have it opened when he writes “His name is John” to the crowded family assembled around the newborn made in the likeness and spirit of Elijah, the renowned prophet (Luke 1:63, NIV).
Four hundred years earlier, Malachi had penned words from God that foretold the purpose for Elizabeth’s child: “I [God] will send my messenger [John], who will prepare the way before me…. See, I [God] will send the prophet Elijah [John] before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. He [John] will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I [God] will come and strike the land with total destruction” (Mal. 3:1, 4:5–6, NIV).
Zechariah is excited! As a priest filled with new faith and with the Holy Spirit, he breaks out in a song of prophecy in Luke 1:
“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David; As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began: That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; The oath which he sware to our father Abraham, That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life. And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways; To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins, Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us, To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.
”And the child [John] grew, and waxed strong in Spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his shewing unto Israel” (Luke 1:68–80, KJV-BRG).
John is a miracle from God, and Zechariah knows it. Zechariah is a miracle from God as he, now filled with God’s Spirit, bursts out in song with a voice that had been muted for nine months. Elizabeth is a miracle from God as Mary, in her first month of pregnancy, comes to Elizabeth in her sixth month, and Elizabeth’s baby leaps in the womb upon hearing Mary’s greeting—and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, saying: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” (Luke 1:42–45, NIV).