This spiritual stagnation causes Christmas to pass us by without spending time with our Savior, neglecting the very one we are celebrating. Many of us will enjoy the warmth and merriment of the holiday, yet even for us believers, our celebration will lack its spiritual significance because the joy of our salvation has grown dim. Perhaps we need to prepare our hearts for Christmas by following the example of Zechariah, Elizabeth, and John.
Too many of us celebrate the birth of Jesus while neglecting Christ himself. This negligence is because, though many of us would like to experience the joy of our salvation, our indulgence in worldliness cuts us off from it. We have lost the reason to celebrate. Many of us also desire the Lord to use us in significant ways, but we do not live lives suited for it, so we take up other pursuits. As we enter this Christmas season, our minds immediately go to the manger, but Luke starts the story by telling us of a man and woman stricken in years.
The lives of Zechariah and Elizabeth should instruct us (Luke 1:5-25). They were uncommon people. They may have appeared ordinary in the eyes of the world, but they stand out, even amongst the children of God. As children of God, we should follow their example. Luke tells us they were righteous before the Lord. They followed his word so closely they were blameless. Blameless does not mean they were sinless, but, as Matthew Henry points out, no one could accuse them of any open or scandalous sin. They lived in service to God. Like the rest of us, however, their lives were not perfect.
Zechariah and Elizabeth were also childless and had been praying for one for years. They knew, like arrows in the hands of a warrior, children are a blessing from the Lord, but they did not have any. Their quiver remained empty no matter how much they tried or how earnestly they desired one. Despite this disappointment, they trusted God and walked closely with him. Our discouragement should not drive us away from God but closer to him.
Being well advanced in years, they had pretty much given up hope of having a child. Until an angel appeared to Zechariah to tell him his prayer had been heard. This older couple was not only righteous and blameless; they were people of prayer.