For the longest time, I read the Christmas story in the gospel of Luke (Chapters 1–2) not fully appreciating that Luke was writing much more than a history of the birth of Jesus. In fact, Luke states why he wrote his letter; “that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught [about Jesus]” (Luke 1:4). Luke wrote specifically to Theophilus – which means “Friend of God” in Greek. Luke wanted this man’s given name to be a spiritual reality. Friendship to God can likewise be a spiritual reality for you and me. That is truly amazing! Sinners can be friends of Holy God!
John the Baptist is a great example for the Church to consider when thinking about Christmas and responding to Jesus. He was born to prepare the way for Jesus and “to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins” (Luke 1:77). The church likewise has been commissioned to prepare the way for Jesus Christ. “so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known…” (Ephesians 3:10).
Interestingly, John the Baptist was fulfilling his purpose before he was even born. When a pregnant Mary went to visit Elizabeth, her cousin, who was also pregnant with John the baptist. Luke records, “And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby [John] leaped in her womb” (Luke 1:41a). Elizabeth responds by calling Mary “mother of my Lord (Luke 1:43). What caused her to call Jesus Lord?