Since the 1930’s, my grandmother’s family has gathered together on Christmas Eve night for food and fellowship with one another. We continue that tradition today, and each year we end the evening with a reading from Luke 2 and a brief devotional. Since my husband is relatively new to the family, he was invited to lead the devotional this year, and I adored it.
Ike has never written on my blog before and not many of you know him, so I thought I would share his devotional words with you this Christmas. I think it will give you a little insight into the kind of man he is and his heart for the Lord. I also think his thoughts will provide you with a different kind of perspective on the Virgin Birth. They certainly did for me.
So without further ado, I’m handing it off to my husband, Ike. Wishing you a very merry Christmas from the Millers!
Often we begin the Christmas Story with Luke 2: “In those days a decree went out from Caeser Augustus that all the world should be registered.” However, I want to back up and begin the story where Luke begins. Luke begins not with the story of the birth of Jesus, but with the story of another birth, which he uses to set up the birth of Jesus and its significance: Luke 1:5-17.
What we have here in this first chapter of Luke is the story a child born for a purpose. He is to prepare people for the coming Lord. This child, John the Baptist, is the one who will prepare the way for the Lord.
The God of Zechariah, who we meet in these verses, is the God whose trademark we see from the beginning. This is the God who works miraculous births. We see this from the beginning with Abraham who is promised to be the father of a nation, and yet his wife Sarah is barren. Then we see this with Isaac and Rebekah, and also Jacob and Rachel.
By allowing these barren women to have children, God was making a way where there was not a way. Where there is a wall, God puts a door. Where there is a forest, God makes a path. Where there is a cliff, God makes a bridge.
In opening Elizabeth’s womb in Luke 1, God is reminding His people that He still works miraculous births, and because we know what happens in Luke 2 we know that he is crescendo-ing toward the most miraculous birth of all, The virgin birth of our Lord. Although the virgin birth often seems strange and random, this history of miraculous births show us that the virgin birth is not out of no where. It is the climax of a history of miraculous births that have all foreshadowed the birth of Jesus.
This is why the theologian Karl Barth insists that the first two chapters of Luke are not to be divided and disconnected such that the first chapter is about the birth of John and the second about the Birth of Jesus. Instead, the birth of John the Baptist belongs to the birth of Christ. The birth of Christ is what makes sense of John’s birth. John the Baptist is born for the purpose of preparing the way for Christ the Lord.
Therefore, the birth of John the Baptist reminds us first, that this God is a God who does not abandon his people. This God knows that we not only need a way, but that we need our broken and weary hearts and minds prepared for the way. The advent of Christmas is the time of this preparation as we anticipate the coming of the Lord. Luke 1 reminds us that from the very first Christmas, God did not leave his people without a preparer.
Second, the Christmas story reminds us that we have desperate need of this God. We have desperate need of this God because this God provides a way where there was not a way. He knows that without him we are up against a wall, that we are wandering in a forest, and that we are on the edge of a cliff. And so He does not leave us without a savior. In this way, Christmas shows us that Jesus did not just die for the salvation of all people but that he was also born for the salvation of all people.
And finally, the Christmas Story reminds us that the birth of Jesus is the reason, the purpose and the hope of all of our births. It could be said that history is but a series of births and lives and deaths. If so, it is Jesus’ birth and life and death that make sense of this seemingly purposeless history.
Each of our births belongs to his, because his birth gives ours a reason. Our lives belong to his because his life gives ours purpose, and our death belongs to his because his death gives ours hope. This is why the angel said that first Christmas,
“Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Lk. 2:10-11)