We’re all familiar with Christ’s birth in Bethlehem in a manger with shepherds supernaturally invited by an angel to the scene, and later, millions of angels singing praises to the King Jesus. But there’s another scene I never see in Christmas narrations or displays today—the birth of John the baptizer. Make yourself less busy and listen.
You can’t separate Jesus’ birth from John’s birth. Jesus and John were an inseparable tandem. It was God’s will for them to be born one after the other. Their tandem existence was for a powerful world-changing purpose. Through them, God would demonstrate the explosive truth that power is made perfect only in weakness. It cannot be so in any other way, especially not through politics—world or church politics. And it’s curious how both had everything supernatural in their births and lives.
If Mary became pregnant supernaturally, so did Elizabeth, John’s mom (and Mary’s relative). Elizabeth was too old to have a child, and yet she did, by God’s will, answering her and her husband’s prayers. If Mary’s miraculous pregnancy was announced by an angel, so was Elizabeth’s. There was even a time when Mary visited Elizabeth, and as soon as she greeted her, the baby in Elizabeth’s womb jumped in excitement and Elizabeth was instantly “filled with the Holy Spirit.”
Not yet born, but John understood that Jesus’ birth was an exciting event. And Jesus, yet unborn, was able to empower John in the womb simply through the greeting of Mary to Elizabeth. That’s what happens when someone who has Jesus genuinely in him or her releases the spoken WORD to someone. Both the person who receives the WORD and his offspring gets God’s empowerment.
Also, you see here that being filled with the Holy Spirit is possible simply through a casual greeting—if you have Jesus genuinely in you. You don’t have to have a special ritual for it. Just be excited about God and what he’s doing in your life and pass it on to others with a greeting! Your simple “Hi!” can change the spiritual atmosphere so radically and change lives and even nations.
John was born first and later would be a precursor of Jesus’ coming as the Messiah. Even their ministries were closely connected. The pattern was that, John always came first, preparing the way for Jesus. I believe that this is also the prophetic role of the church—preparing the way for the second coming of Jesus Christ. Specifically, to prepare a people for the Lord.
“And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” [Luke 1.17]
Let’s go a bit deeper, shall we? As prophesied, Elijah came and will still come. “To be sure, Elijah comes and will restore all things. But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him…”[Matthew 17]. Elijah’s spirit and power had already come on John the baptizer. But a last appearance of the Elijahic spirit and power will come in these last days to the church: “See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes.” [Malachi 4.5].
This is one of the apt meanings of Christmas—that through Jesus, God is grooming a people prepared for the Lord. And these “people” are families restored to God by the prophetic move (what I call Elijahic move) of God in the church, “in the spirit and power of Elijah.” Imagine that! Righteous fathers whose hearts prioritize the spiritual development of their children. And rebellious, disobedient young people finally understanding and obeying the righteousness their fathers are pursuing in Christ.
So, don’t just celebrate Christmas uselessly like the world does—crazy shopping and gifts-giving, bowing to everything that commercialism dictates. Sadly, even many churches just succumb to the worldly view of Christmas—getting busy with hectic Christmas programs and “fellowships”—what they call their social gatherings. But we should wake up and start shaping up spiritually (especially us fathers) because we cannot have hearts that are after our kids for the Lord unless we really live righteously by faith.
Not many people know this, but Christmas is for turning the hearts of the parents to their children. It’s not about strictly disciplining your kids to go to church and read their bibles. Neither is it just about “bonding” and sharing quality time with your kids. It’s about living exemplary righteous lives for Christ (and genuinely enjoying it everyday with your family) so that your kids will be attracted to obey the wisdom of the righteous, and decide, “I want to live like this forever!”
This is the present move of God. The “people” He is preparing are not religious church people who busy themselves with every imaginable church program they could think of, but families restored to God by living out the righteous wisdom of God everyday. Families who discover that the only life worth living is the LIFE of Jesus Christ. This is what the church should be aiming for. If they commit to doing this will of God, God will enable them to do ministry “in the spirit and power of Elijah.”
So, that’s the other scene of Christmas. Ever seen it before? It was God’s will when Christ first came to earth. It is His will now before the second coming of Jesus Christ. Be less busy and meditate more on this.
In this spirit, I say, Merry Christmas to all. God bless us all!