Our culture often looks at Christmas as a cute time for presents and greeting cards. This cultural distraction can lead us to downplay what a significant moment in history the birth of Jesus really was. This significance is highlighted by Luke as he begins his Gospel by building anticipation for this monumental event, emphasizing its great importance.
Consider Zechariah’s encounter in the temple (Luke 1). God’s glory had long departed from Israel (Ezek 10), and He had not spoken through prophets or Scripture for approximately 400 years. Suddenly, Zechariah is met by an angel in the place of God’s presence. Zechariah’s promised child is connected to Old Testament prophecy (1:16-17; cf. Mal 4:5), and it becomes evident that God is on the move!
Luke also draws attention to the pregnancies of Elizabeth and Mary. Elizabeth was barren and advanced in years (1:7), but she would bear a son (1:13). Immediately, this connects Elizabeth with Sarah (Gen 11:30), Rachel (Gen 29:31), and Hannah (1 Sam 1:5), all barren women to whom God gave children when He was doing great things. Even more miraculous, the virgin Mary is told that she will also conceive (1:31). Luke points to the past and shows that God is about to do something big!
Finally, Zechariah prophecies a great salvation (1:67-79). In verses 69-71 we see that salvation will come in a physical way in that Israel will be saved from her enemies. Then, in verse 77 there is an emphasis on a spiritual salvation in that the people will be forgiven of their sins. Luke emphasizes that whatever happens after Luke 1—it is going to be important!
That important moment is the birth of our Savior! We should celebrate Christmas with a building anticipation, realizing that the arrival of Jesus is one giant step forward in God’s plan for our very salvation. It is not just any baby who has come. Our Messiah has come!