Shortly after Mary left Elizabeth’s house, John the Baptist is born. At his birth, Zechariah exercises the faith he had been lacking at the time of Gabriel’s visit. His speech returns and the first thing he does is spontaneously speak a hymn of praise to God–just as Mary had done. In it he speaks to his son of the prophetic role he’ll play:
And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High;
for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him,
to give his people the knowledge of salvation
through the forgiveness of their sins,
because of the tender mercy of our God,
After it becomes clear that Mary is pregnant, Joseph–not wanting to publicly shame her–plans to privately end the engagement. He changes his mind after an angel visits him in his dreams, instructing him to go ahead with the wedding and to take this child of Mary’s as his own. Joseph displays the same faith in God as his young bride. Believing that God was the actor behind this miraculous conception, he weds Mary and becomes the earthly father to the “Son of the Most High.” And then he faithfully protects that divine life by continuing to obey God’s instructions (relayed to him in three more dreams) about where to move and live. (Matthew 1:18-25; 2:13-23)
And now the stage is set; the company of actors is assembled. God is at last ready to reveal the great protagonist of our story!
- He will be the answer to Adam and Eve’s despair for he will crush the snake and restore Eden.
- He will be the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham.
- He will be the King from the tribe of Judah and the royal lineage of David who will destroy his enemies but also bring salvation to those who humbly receive him.
- He will be the eternal Priest and Suffering Servant who bears our sins and heals our hearts.
- He will be called Mighty God.
- He will bring God’s presence back to Israel and bring salvation to the ends of the earth.
- He’ll be born in Bethlehem to Joseph and Mary and they will name him Jesus.
As you go through this busy holiday weekend, prepare him room! Clear your mind and your hearts and consider this baby. His birth came largely unnoticed–except by a field full of shepherds and a handful of magi from a distant land. Bethlehem was too busy that night to even offer a suitable place for giving birth. Do not make the same mistake. Look to that helpless baby–swaddled in blankets and nestled in hay–and see God’s great salvation plan unfold!
Focusing Song: Prepare Him Room
O behold, the mystery now unfolds
See the star shine on the virgin foretold
Angels sing and light up the sky
Hope rings out in a newborn’s cry
Swing wide, you ancient gates
For Christ is born today!
Prepare Him room
Prepare Him room
Let the King of glory enter in
God with us, the promise has come to be
This, the one the prophets were longing to see
In the darkness a blazing light
To the hungry the words of life
His kingdom now is near
For those with ears to hear
Oh, our hearts, as busy as Bethlehem
Hear Him knock, don’t say there’s no room in the inn
Through the cradle, cross, and grave
See the love of God displayed
Now He’s risen and He reigns
Praise the Name above all names!