Summary: This part of the Christmas story unfolds as God sent His angel, Gabriel to tell Zacharias that he and Elisabeth would have a son, John. John the Baptist.
The Christmas Miracle—The Story of Zacharias and Elisabeth
Characters of Christmas Series – Message One - 2010
Gages Lake Bible Church
Sunday Morning, December 5th, 2010
Luke 1, 3
Pastor Daniel Darling
Today is the first Sunday of December, launching our Christmas programming here at the church. Christmas is a wonderful time of year for the church. It’s a glorious time when the world stops and for a solid month, almost, sets its focus on the incarnation of Jesus Christ into the world.
If you’ve been attending Gages Lake for a while, you’ll know that I’ve been doing a running series of messages every Christmas on The Characters of Christmas.
It has always intrigued me to look into the lives the characters in this compelling drama. Who are these folks around the nativity? Every year, around the world, people wear their costumes and act out their stories. But who are they? And what do their stories tell us today?
A couple of years ago, we purchased the Fisher Price “Little People Nativity” for Grace. It has a wide assortment of all of the various people and props and animals and buildings of the Christmas story. And this is something she absolutely loves—and plays with year-round.
We thought it was really cute, until she had Mary with a shepherd instead of Joseph!
The original Christmas story is like a magnificent drama. On the stage are many characters, villains and good people. The Holy Spirit inspired the writers of the Gospels to include their stories as part of the story of Jesus. And so we continue to look at them.
Well, in years past we have looked at Mary, at Joseph, at the shepherds, at the Wise Men, and Simeon and Anna. We’ve even discussed Herod, the monster of Christmas.
We’ve only got a few characters left and so this year we’re going to look at three more; Zacharias and Elisabeth, the Angels, and the Innkeeper.
This should close out the series. I’ve been talking to my publisher and we’re considering turning these sermons into a book format.
Today, a Christmas Miracle
Today, we turn our attention to the text Laurietta read from Luke’s Gospel in Chapter One, the well-known story of Zacharias and Elisabeth.
This story is fascinating on several levels, because not only is their story integral to the Christmas story, the incarnation of Jesus, but they also have their own miracle. It makes for a perfect Christmas story, doesn’t it?
There are a lot of folks hoping for miracles this Christmas. If you watch the popular Christmas movies, whether it’s A Wonderful Life or White Christmas or any of the animated Disney movies or the very predictable Hallmark movies where somebody gets a miracle—a shop being saved from a cruel developer or something like that.
But different than those stories, the story of Zacharias and Elisabeth afford us some powerful lessons for our own lives, because it is rooted in the very character of God.
I believe we have to look at the story of Zacharias and Elisabeth, not as one isolated story, because the narratives of the Bible, every single life story from Genesis to Revelation are only small dramas in the grand story of Jesus. And so I want to look at the lives of Zacharias and Elisabeth and see what their stories tell us about the character of God.
1) God is active in the darkness
To get an idea of who this couple was, we need to step into the setting of the times. This was not a good time in Israel. This was a time of darkness, and of despair. Israel was a conquered nation, subservient to the Romans.
But perhaps the worst and darkest part of this history was that God was silent. The book of Malachi closes with a promise, but for 4oo years, Israel was not visited by God.
No prophets were sent to deliver messages of judgment or prosperity.
No angels. No kings. No deliverers.
And Israel had been shaken by revolution and war in those years. Savaged by the Syrians, then a revolution by their own Macabbees brought temporary hope only to be crushed by Pompey the Great, the Roman, who brought Israel under bondage once again.
What’s more, the priesthood, the religious system was corrupt. Nobody could be trusted. And Caesar was about to institute another oppressive tax.
Life, for most people was terrible. They lived in impoverished conditions with little hope.
In the Midst of Darkness, God is ready to act.
But in the midst of the darkness, God was not sleeping. The Psalms remind us that the God of Jacob doesn’t slumber or sleep. And just when it seems as if God is most distant, as if life can’t get any harder, God is alive and active in the affairs of men.