For generations, God’s people had been told that at just the right time, God would send the permanent solution for the sin problem of mankind. The people waited. The time had come.


An old, childless, temple priest named Zechariah was the first to hear the news. He had waited a lifetime to fulfill his sacred duties in the temple. But what happened inside was far and away more incredible than he could have imagined. A mighty angel appeared through the smoke of the burning incense, and this angel had quite an announcement.

Zechariah had prayed unceasingly for two things. He prayed for a child and he prayed for God to send the Messiah. In one moment, God announced that both of Zechariah’s prayers were answered. This revelation was more than Zechariah could wrap his mind around. He faltered in disbelief. And because of it, he was unable to speak for the nine months that his aged wife carried their son. But Zechariah’s voice was restored when he, in obedience, named the child “John.”

All of this is breathtaking if we know what Zechariah knew. This old man had spent his entire life learning every jot and tittle of the law. He had memorized the holy instructions about the temple and the exact right way to offer a blood sacrifice to cover, albeit temporarily, the sins of his people. But now! Now sin would be taken away forever by the very act of God. The oppression would cease. Freedom at last!

Without the back-story, the coming of Christ (like a tiny lamb in a manger) loses so much of its meaning. Our kids must be taught–in terms they understand–the original sacrifice structure that God set up. Only then can they grasp the full impact of the announcement that Zechariah heard about his son, John:

“And he will prepare the way for the Lord.” – Luke 1: 17a

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