Devotional Passage: Luke 1:8-23
Surprises. Sometimes surprises are good. And sometimes surprises are not so good. When your parents tell you you’re going to the beach after Christmas? Good surprise. When your coach informs you that today’s practice will be nothing but conditioning? Bad surprise. New phone for your birthday? Good surprise. Pop-quiz? Bad surprise.
A surprise is nothing more than being caught unprepared. If your parents said to you, “Just a head’s up. Tomorrow we’re going to tell you that we’re going on a super-fun vacation,” when it came time for the announcement, you wouldn’t be surprised. You would have been prepared for it. God likes surprises as much as the next person. Isn’t the heart of every miracle a surprise? But God also understands the value of preparation. And in today’s passage, we see how preparation is woven into the Christmas narrative.
Read Luke 1:8-23, paying special attention to verses 16 and 17. You were introduced to Zechariah yesterday. In this passage, we see Zechariah going about his priestly duties when God chose to surprise him. Zechariah met an angel who had an important announcement: Zechariah and Elizabeth would be the parents of a special child. Not just any child, but John the Baptist. What an epic announcement.
Look closely at verses 16-17. This is a prophecy about the nature of John the Baptist’s life’s work. John would give his life to preparing people for the coming Messiah. In God’s great plan to send Jesus to earth to live among His people, He wanted John there, calling people to prepare themselves to encounter Jesus. I believe there is a powerful truth for us here, as well.
As we navigate the Christmas season in our 21st Century culture, it’s easy to forget what we’re building toward. Ideally, each day that draws closer to December 25 is another day we’re preparing to encounter Jesus. Not literally, as the people in John’s world would do. But preparing our hearts and minds to celebrate the amazing, world-changing story of Jesus’ birth. If we don’t intentionally prepare ourselves, the real risk is that Christmas passes us by, and we’ve not been moved by it.
God knew that preparation was important for people in the 1st Century. It’s no less important for us today.
Think about this:
• What do you need to do to prepare yourself for a meaningful Christmas season?
• Is there anything in your life that is an obstacle to your preparation? What would it take for you to remove that obstacle for this Christmas season?