Today, I read an article written for Advent and it took a look at Luke 1:5-25. That section covers Zechariah and Elizabeth’s experience leading up to the blessing of their son, John, who would later be known as ‘the Baptist.’
In the article, Kelly M. Kapic described Luke 1 as “an intricate tapestry of divine appointments.” She mentions the specific moment in history that God appointed this story of Christ’s birth, Zechariah’s appointed once-in-a-lifetime priestly duty, Elizabeth’s appointed infertility which would lead to the miraculous conception of John at such an old age, the appointed priestly heritage of both parents which would be significant in the life of a son anointed to do all that John was prophesied to do, the appointed messenger – Gabriel – who left the presence of God to deliver this news, and we will mention once again the divinely appointed purpose that John would meet in preparing the way for Jesus’s ministry.
God is a God who appoints things in our lives for His glory and for our flourishing. Wasn’t that the case with Zechariah and Elizabeth, even after decades of heartbreaking childlessness in a culture where it held such an important place? God brought flourishing to mankind through the life of John who would “be filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother’s womb. And he [would] turn many of the sons of Israel back to the Lord their God. It [was] he who [would] go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children,’ and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Luke 1:15b-17).
The full meaning behind this text is immense and could be discussed in great depth, which I will not do in this blog, but God was setting the stage, like the Master He is, to usher in the most beautiful story of love that mankind will ever know. And through it, He will be glorified as His children find their Father once again and His Bride will one day join Him for an eternal celebration of His greatness and grace.
In that first chapter of Luke, God takes a couple who had experienced decades of heartbreak and He used their faithfulness. This is a unique story with significance we may never be able to truly appreciate, but in smaller ways, God is appointing things in our lives as well that will bring flourishing to us and honor to Him. What is He appointing in your life to bring Him glory? Maybe He appointed that you read this blog and give this question a moment’s thought just as He did with me as I picked up Kapic’s article and she encouraged me to ponder it as well.
If you reach out to me, I would be very happy to share what I believe God is appointing in my life currently for my flourishing and His glory. But more to the point, as I processed the incredible love that God has for us and the grace He shows us continually, I wrote an email to a young person that they requested to remind them of God’s love for them. I want you to share it now and for you to own it since the truth applies to you as well:
“… Just your reminder of how much God loves you! This week, we’re celebrating Christmas and we’re processing how much He must love us for Him to send Jesus to this rough place.
You know, the earth, where people can be so mean and things are really dirty. Jesus left the perfection of heaven to have to work hard. To be exhausted sometimes and hungry other times. To have to navigate people’s emotions and keep friends when they can be really crazy sometimes! To have to watch as people in His community treated people He loved horribly and picked on them or sit by while people tried to pressure Him into doing bad things. He had to be picked on and treated horribly, even to the point of death on the cross. Because He loved you!
He could have avoided it all by staying in heaven where things would be perfect and He would never have to be uncomfortable, but He chose 33 years on this painful planet to be tortured and die for your sins. This Christmas, spend time thinking about the bad things He went through so that you could know God. So that you could experience heaven one day with Him.
Just imagine, when you take your final breath, you’re going to leave this body where you may have been horribly sick or had terrible pain, where you’ve struggled through hard relationships and felt uncared for at times – all the things you will have gone through in this life – and then the next thing you know, you’re going to open your eyes and I imagine you seeing Jesus’s face smiling back at you. I believe He’s going to be more excited to see you than you’ve ever seen in anyone’s face, ever. I believe He’s going to wrap His arms around you and give you the hugest, warmest, most amazing hug you’ve ever had. And that’s only the beginning of an eternity where His love for you will make all bad things go away. You’ll never hurt again, cry, struggle, or sin. You’ll just live with all of us together, having fun with Him and exploring what things will be like in heaven together! I can’t wait!”
God appoints special circumstances in our lives to show us His love (Romans 8:28). For Zechariah and Elizabeth, it was every detail that lead to the miraculous birth of Jesus’s cousin who would fulfill such an important prophecy. For you, it may be any number of things that lead you to worship this Christmas. However, one thing I know for certain is that all of mankind was presented salvation from a life and eternity of separation from our loving Father (John 3:16-17). He loved you so much that He appointed the Christmas story and Jesus’s life, having left the perfection of heaven, to experience torture and the wrath of God on your behalf (John 6:33; Isaiah 53:4-6; 2 Corinthians 5:21). This Christmas, think of how God appointed circumstances to lead you to Him. It will be a wonderful practice in grateful worship that I know will bless you as you celebrate the season over the coming days and weeks!
Young Adult Minister – Evan McNeff