So Close and Yet So Far
This summer as we glided along the interstate highways, crossing the Appalachian Mountains I noticed a sign that said:
A raindrop falling on this side will flow to the Gulf of Mexico, one falling on the other side will flow to the Atlantic."
As I drove on, a very sobering feeling settled over my heart and mind.
Two raindrops can fall just inches apart, and yet arrive at two vastly different destinations. Hydrology teaches us that there are continental divides, separators that determine destinations.
The Christmas story contains the picture of two raindrops. Two sets of people, so close in their family upbringing, so close in education, so close in environment, so close in every day life—yet so far apart in destiny. Beware of getting so close in every way--but your heart, to Christ. Beware of being acquainted with Christ but never knowing Him.
How close can you get to Jesus and still be too far away? That is what the religious leaders of Christ's day demonstrate to us this Christmas. So close they were, and yet so far away they remained. It is possible to be as close as them, and yet miss all that Christ and Christmas have to offer.
Luke 1 will introduce us to a priest and his wife. How about it? Are you looking for Jesus this Christmas? Or is this Christmas flying by so fast you will miss what God is offering you? Everyone who was looking for Jesus to come enjoyed His arrival. As we examine their lives we can often see ourselves. Who are you going to be like this Christmas—it is your choice you know. Open with me to Luke 1.5-6 and meet these two saints Zacharias and Elisabeth.
God breaks through after 400 years of silence. Chronologically Dr. Luke begins the New Testament. He goes back to the birth of John the Baptist, to where the angel Gabriel appeared to John's father as he served in the temple. John's parents were Zacharias and Elisabeth. Zacharias means "God remembers," and Elisabeth means "His oath." Together their names mean, "God remembers His oath." When did God take an oath?
Psalm 89:34-37 records God's oath: "My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips. Once have I sworn by my holiness that I will not lie unto David. His seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before me. It shall be established for ever as the moon, and as a faithful witness in heaven. Selah."
God swore an oath to David that one of his descendants would have an eternal reign. Christ is that descendant. "God remembers His oath!" God is ready to break through into human history after 400 years of silence. Notice that the Scripture tells us both Zacharias and Elisabeth were righteous. That is, they were right. How were they right? They recognized they were sinners and brought the necessary sacrifices .
The sad lesson of Christmas comes from those who were on the other side of the continental divide from Zacharias and Elisabeth.
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