The ancestry of Jesus clearly points to his family history, which Luke masterfully narrates in the story of his birth. Luke begins by telling us the story of Jesus’ cousin, John the Baptist, who is the ancestral forerunner in the family.
Luke refers to Old Testament prophecies, in which God’s brilliant plans and purposes come to fruition in the birth of Jesus. He frequently shows us how God’s present actions are completely consistent with his cosmic promises. For as Luke narrates the story of the two cousins, we see how they manifest God’s servant and Son sequentially. Luke relies on tradition up to a point, but unlike the other gospel writers, he pays special attention to the reality of how this family, all ancestors of Abraham, mysteriously changed the course of human history and the world for eternity.
Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, was a priest and his wife Elizabeth was the daughter of another priest, Aaron. They were righteous and followed the Law scrupulously. However, just like Abraham and Sarah, they were childless. In ancient times, a woman’s inability to conceive was a cruel and unrelenting source of grief. Nevertheless, even though Elizabeth suffered immensely, she remained faithful to God. As the mother of four, grandmother of twelve, and great-grandmother of five, I cannot even imagine the pain Elizabeth felt. On the other hand, I wonder what it would have been like to live Elizabeth’s life, as she became an integral part in the Christmas story.
Zechariah and Elizabeth had no idea how God would use them in his plan to redeem humanity. They could not have imagined how important their baby boy would become in bringing God’s plans to fruition through the birth of his cousin, Jesus Christ.
Yes, God used this family. For without Zechariah, Elizabeth, and their son, John, who would have known about the God-baby, who grew in the flesh, ministered to the world, died for us all, was resurrected, and now sits at the right hand of God the Father?