Today’s read includes Luke 1-2 and Matthew 1:18-25. We are given many details surrounding the birth of two babies: John the Baptist, and Jesus. Their mothers, Elizabeth and Mary, were relatives, though we don’t know how closely they were related. Both babies were born under unusual circumstances, and their destinies would be intertwined.
Zechariah, Elizabeth’s husband, was a priest. The time for childbearing had passed Elizabeth, but this didn’t stop Zechariah from praying for a child! We know this because when the angel speaks to him while he is in the temple burning incense, he says, “your prayer has been heard…Elizabeth will bear a son…” Six months later the same angel, Gabriel, appears to Mary, an unmarried young virgin girl and tells her she will bear the Son of God, Jesus. Zechariah’s response to his good news was a bit of doubt, for which he was struck dumb for the duration of the pregnancy. Mary’s response was full of faith and humility: “I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled.”
Two babies. Two sets of parents. One angel. But there was another player in these two stories who is mentioned frequently in these passages – the Holy Spirit. There was nothing human or ordinary about the story God was unfolding. It was His eternal plan from ages past, and His Holy Spirit was the One who carried it out.
John the Baptist would be filled with the Holy Spirit before he was born.
The Holy Spirit impregnated Mary with the tiny embryo of the baby Jesus, in all His fullness and sinless perfection.
Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit as the baby John leaped in her womb at the sound of Mary’s voice.
Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied at John’s birth.
John grew and became “strong in the Spirit.”
Simon, the old man in the temple who rejoiced to see Jesus, and recognized Him as the promised Savior, was filled with the Spirit. He spoke as he was moved by the Spirit.
Don’t ever believe the lie that Jesus was just another good prophet, a good teacher. Everything about His birth and entrance into the world was a supernatural act of the Holy Spirit of God. God’s Spirit had been silent for 400 years, but the time had come for action. The heavens were on high alert. Gabriel had been waiting for millennia to announce these events, and the angels couldn’t wait to tell the news to the shepherds. No longer would the world lay silent and dark, waiting for the Messiah. The Spirit of God was on the move, and things would never be the same again.