I find it amazing to recognize the work of the Holy Spirit involved in every step of the Christmas story. Luke, the author of the book of Acts, pays close attention to the work of the Holy Spirit in the Gospel that bears his name. Luke’s account of the birth of Jesus is the most detailed, and he highlights the Holy Spirit’s activity in the lives of five people in the first two chapters:
Luke 1:65-67a, “And fear came on all that dwelt round about them: and all these sayings were noised abroad throughout all the hill country of Judaea. And all they that heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, What manner of child shall this be! And the hand of the Lord was with him. And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost…”
Zacharias had a hard time believing Gabriel when he delivered the message of the inception of John the Baptist. At the moment of unbelief, surely not the first time, for the name “Zacharias” means “the Lord remembers”. Zacharias reminds me that the Holy Spirit refines and corrects us, and ultimately uses us in spite of our failures and weaknesses. We must never grow weary of God’s discipline—because in the end, we will emerge with a message from Him.
Luke 1:39-42, “And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda; And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth. And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.”
Luke outlined Elizabeth’s family background. She was descended from a long line of priests. Luke wanted to say, loud and clear, that John and Jesus both came from a respectable, well-connected family, so he began by pointing out that not one but both John’s parents came from a priestly family, and that Elizabeth’s father was a priest – this is what is meant by ‘daughter of Aaron’. Her husband Zechariah was a member of the priestly order of Abijah. Despite her impeccable family background, Elizabeth was barren. In Bible times, childlessness was not just a misfortune; it was a disgrace (see Genesis 16:4, 11; 29:32; 30:1, 1 Samuel 1:5-6, 11, 2:5, 7-8). But in Elizabeth’s case, this could hardly be so, since her reputation was blameless. Instead, there had to be some other reason. Mary meeting Elizabeth, both with child, both in a supernatural way, was such encouragement for this dear mother – Elizabeth. Elizabeth name means “God so promised”. Elizabeth reminds me that the Spirit is an Encourager and a Comforter, and that I cannot make this spiritual journey without His help. I must also recognize that God sometimes brings people into my life to provide words to sustain me.
Luke 1:14-16, “And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb. And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God.”
John was the forerunner of Jesus Christ. He was the one who announced, “Behold the King cometh.” John reminds me that if I am to attempt any task for God, I must do it in the power of the Spirit. I cannot just come up with a good idea and ask God to bless it. It must be God’s idea, and it must be soaked in the Holy Spirit’s anointing from the moment of conception!
Luke 1:31-35, “And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.”
Mary was truly a blessed woman. She was willing to acknowledge what God wanted to do and desired to be a part of that great plan. Remembering our greatest part is to acknowledge the work He is doing through us, not something we are manufacturing. Mary reminds me that one of the key manifestations of the Spirit in our lives is praise and worship. Being filled with the Spirit automatically unleashes uninhibited praise. If my praise is subdued, casual or restrained, then I need a fresh infilling.
Luke 2:21-25, “And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb. And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord; (As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;) And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons. And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him.”
This man had a vision, a dream based on the fulfillment of the scriptures. He longed to see the Messiah come to earth. It had been divinely revealed to Simeon that before his death he would see the Christ. Simeon reminds me that the Spirit will give me the power to hold onto God’s promises, no matter how many years it takes to see their fulfillment.
I wonder how your life will be summarized in 2011 if you will allow the Holy Spirit to fill you each and every day and use you to emphasize an area of His work. He began a work in you and He promises to complete it. Have a “Happy New Year” and a “Happy New You” as you meditate on these truths.