Ein Karem, Bethlehem, & The Nativity Of Jesus The Christ
Before Bethlehem became the center of worship to God and Jesus on that first Christmas there was another sleepy town, that six months earlier had brought quite a stir. I am speaking of the town of Ein Karem, Israel, where John The Baptist was born six months before Jesus, according to Luke 1:5-80.
Mary or Miriam in Hebrew, had recently been visited by an angel telling of her soon conception by the Holy Spirit. Further Mary was told that her older cousin Elizabeth was now pregnant and in her sixth month. You know the story that Mary left Nazareth to go to visit her cousin Elizabeth. Luke only says that Mary went to a hill country in the hill country of Judea. That town was En Karem which is currently a 10 minute train/bus ride on the edge of Jerusalem.
Elizabeth didn’t understand why ‘the mother of my Lord’ should come to her. Why should she go there? When Elizabeth received news of Mary’s news the baby, the future forerunner of Jesus, lept in her womb. Perhaps Mary was just going to see her cousin who had miraculously conceived in her old age. Perhaps it was more than that. I think we can find just a glimpse in Luke 1:76 where Zechariah declares of John “you will be a prophet of the Most High and you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for Him.”
Zechariah was declaring that John is the forerunner who will, at least partially, fulfill the scripture speaking of a forerunner of Jesus coming. Isaiah 40:3 speaks of “a voice crying in the wilderness, prepare the way of the Lord.” On that day in Ein Karem it was more than two cousins talking about their pregnancies. No they were not posting on facebook, or talking about sonograms, and they certainly weren’t having a gender reveal party, not that those are not important to us as parents and grandparents. They were declaring the scripture being fulfilled through them. They realized their importance.
The prophet Zechariah declared a few hundred years earlier “do not despise these small beginnings.” Zechariah 4:10. God didn’t pick someone in a high ranking position. Not a wealthy landowner, or prominent family. Mary was a descendant of David, but her family lived up in Nazareth and so far as we can tell was of no great social status. Likewise John’s mother Elizabeth was of the daughters of Aaron meaning she was of the family of the High priest. Her husband Zechariah was a priest but nothing extraordinary is found mentioned about him. Then there is the hard working ‘earthly father’ of Jesus.
It was from humble beginnings that our Nativity story begins, but it begins in Ein Karem, before Bethlehem. Likewise as we draw near the end of the current age and anticipate Jesus return in Jerusalem, God is preparing more John the Baptist’s who like the first one arise from humble beginnings. WE are thankful for so many voices that have gone before. Many were well trained, or spoke eloquently. But in these last days God is raising up voices to be forerunners to go ahead and prepare the way for our Lord’s return.
You may not think of yourself as a forerunner, but if you are a disciple of Jesus Christ you have a voice. You may be a mom, or business owner or teacher. Some may be writers, or dancers, or artists. Further there are educators, and media experts. All have a voice. This is the day where God is looking for the faithful who are content to be just a ‘nobody’ who is somebody in the kingdom of God.
Remember just as there was Ein Karem there are many such quaint little places where forerunners are being prepared. Rejoice and be glad. Be as John said in John 3:29 ‘stand hear and rejoice.’ Rejoice that He came as a baby in Bethlehem, yes, but rejoice that He is coming back to Jerusalem and He is counting on readers like you to help clear the way.
Merry Christmas, Feliz navidad, Joyeux Noel, Fröhliche Weihnachten
eid milad saeid, Shèngdàn jié kuàilè, schastlivogo Rozhdestva
There are many more languages to say Merry Christmas but God wants all nations to honor His Son at this special time.. Blessings