“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come and has redeemed his people.”
A Lasting Joy
For most of us, Christmas is over. In all likelihood, the presents are unwrapped; the pretty paper is in the garbage can. And take a good look at your Christmas tree, because in a week or so, it will be gone. Many of us are getting back to school and work, back to our regular lives. In order for the joy of Christmas to last, it needs to mean so much more to us than trees, presents, and nicely decorated homes. As we put away Christmas for another year, Zechariah’s words are an important reminder: “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come and has redeemed his people.”
Zechariah was a new dad. He and Elizabeth had just had their first son, John. One can understand the joy of a new parent at the birth of their first child. But how quickly that new joy can wear off. Time goes by and it becomes evident that neither child nor parent is perfect. Sin infects us all.
So for Zechariah, his joy had to be based on more, and it was. God had revealed to him that his son, John the Baptist, would be the forerunner of the promised Messiah, Jesus!
Zechariah could see something far greater at work here than just the birth of his own child. His son was preparing the way for someone who would change every life that has ever walked the face of this earth, someone who would change Zechariah’s life too, long after his son was old and grown.
God gave us a gift that lasts! At Christmas, he says to you, “Here is my Son, born in poverty in a manger who will live among you and die for you. Because of him, you will know that I have done everything necessary to draw you to myself. Your sin is forgiven. Your debt is paid. You are my child!” What a gift!
So, put away your Christmas decorations, take down the trees. But remember the gift of joy he gives us to last the whole year through!
Heavenly Father, we praise and thank you for the gift of joy you give to us and our families. As we enter into a new year, fill our hearts with the joy of the Christ child in all we say and do. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.