No story about the time of the birth of Christ other than the Christ Child himself is more amazing than the story of the birth of John the Baptist and no story could be crafted more creatively than this one was by God himself. It begins with the miraculous realization by an older and formerly barren woman that by the grace of God she and her husband would, after all the years of disappointment, be blessed with the birth of a son, a special boy who would play a direct part in the beginning of the most important portion of Jesus’ life mission at age thirty. The Baptist would baptize the Christ by water before throngs of people on the River Jordan. His preaching up to that point had been preparing the world for Jesus and when the Son of Man came down the rocky hillside toward him in the water, John knew immediately who He was.
The entire story of this relationship began when the Priest Zechariah reported for duty to the temple with the honor of dutifully burning the incense and praying for God’s grace on Israel, he was surprised to find an angel with him, the Angel Gabriel, who told him that his wife would soon be with child. When Zechariah showed signs of doubts with his questioning of how this could be, the angel Gabriel, not happy with Zechariah’s doubting him, cast a spell which ended the rabbi’s ability to speak, telling him he would not speak again until the child was born. As Zechariah came out of the holy internal sanctum to greet the people, they realized he must have seen a vision and that it impacted him by silencing him, and Zechariah went home to his wife, Elizabeth, with whom he would not be able to converse for over nine months.
Elizabeth soon realized she was with child and the first six months of her pregnancy, spent largely in quiet and reverent contemplation, went well. At that time, Mary, herself now pregnant in her third month, came to visit her much older cousin when she learned of Elizabeth’s good fortune. Upon arrival, when Elizabeth heard of Mary’s great blessing her baby jumped in the womb and the older woman was filled with the Holy Spirit. Mary stayed with her for about three months and then returned to Nazareth, likely leaving after the child was born. The name John, while not a family name, was in accordance witho the instructions of the angel, Gabriel, a name which can be seen in many Hebrew documents as meaning a gracious gift from God. Wouldn’t it be most appropriate for such a name to be given to the one who would prepare the way for Christ to follow with his preaching, teaching, love and grace.
Jesus was born about six months after John and while Jesus was born of an immaculate conception, John was also conceived in a miraculous way due to his mother’s age. Yet God chose this other miracle to identify him as someone of the Spirit, born to be the "advance man" for His Savior, who was also his cousin and of the lineage of the House of David. There could be no better way to buttress the story of the birth of Christ than by adding this miraculous man to the equation, for nothing that happens on God's earth is a coincidence and all the pieces of the puzzle were put together by God for a reason. It is up to us to study and ponder to realize what that is. For some it comes easily, for others with much difficulty, but when faith is applied to these things that have happened, the fog is finally lifted from our eyes. What a wonderful addition to the story of the birth of Christ given to us by a wise, all knowing and gracious God. Praise His holy name.