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A Christmas Bible Study - In The Wait

newborn baby

This Christmas Bible study is designed to bring a sense of wonder back to our Christmas story experience.  Sometimes the sense of wonder can be found again when we allow ourselves to "wonder."  Have you ever wondered about Zechariah and Elizabeth?

We tend to jump ahead straight to the manger, but when we do, we are missing a great lesson experienced by two faithful believers who were a part of the Christmas story!

A Christmas Bible Study

This Christmas Bible study lesson based on a portion of the Christmas story may be used with any age.  We have included a basic Bible lesson script with a variety of interactive options for different ages including children, youth and adults. 

This is also a great tool for family time worship during the Christmas season!

Title:  In the Wait

Scripture:  Luke 1

Introduction  Activity:  

Set a treat out on the table; it could be cookies, individually wrapped candy, etc.  Let the group know you have brought a treat for everyone to share.  Ask if they would like some, but don't give it out yet!

Tell them that you can't give it out yet, they'll need to wait.  Set a timer for 3 minutes, but don't let them know how long it will be.  Then sit and wait or finish preparing for the lesson while they wait for an unknown period of time.

When the timer goes off, ask how they felt about waiting.  Was it hard?

Let's think about all the times and places we have to wait. Make a list on the board or sheet of paper; then rank them by the approximate amount of time each requires in waiting.

Point 1: Waiting is Hard, but worth it!

In the Gospel of Luke we find the story of Christmas didn't begin in the manger, a lot happened before that special night.

The Hebrew people had been waiting for a Savior for hundreds of years.  It had been about 400 years since the last prophet had spoken for God.

[Have students turn back to find the last book of the Old Testament to find this prophets name - Malachi.]

Luke begins his telling of the Christmas story with the good news that a new prophet would come to make the way for the long-awaited Savior.

Read Luke 1:5-7.

 "In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron.  Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly.  But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old."

Luke 1:5-7

  • What two people are mentioned as the main characters in these verses? (Zechariah & Elizabeth)
  • What do we know about them? (They were both descendants of priestly lines, lived righteous lives, were childless and VERY old.)

Read Luke 1:8-13 

Read the following verses out loud, but stop before saying John's name and allow the group to announce the name - "John."  Then clarify that this was John the Baptist.

"Once when Zechariah’s division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, 9 he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshipers were praying outside.

11 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. 13 But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John."

One of the longest waits is the nine months before a baby is born.  There is nothing to be done to hurry it along, but in that time of waiting, there is much taking place!

Wait is worth it

Waiting is not idle; it is not empty.  Much is accomplished in the wait and the outcome is so worth it!

Webster's definitions of "Waiting" include:

  1. to stay or rest in expectation; to stop or remain stationary until the arrival of some person or event
  2. to be ready to serve; to obey

Both of these would be applicable descriptions of Zechariah and Elizabeth.  They had been waiting for a baby, they waited in expectation for the arrival of a Savior, and during all that time they served and obeyed God.

[Allow the group to discuss some of the things that are done or prepared as a family waits for a baby to be born.]

So they weren't being idle in the wait and neither was God! 

Zechariah and Elizabeth had waited years to become parents; it must have seemed like such a long wait...much longer than the nine months they waited for him to be born.

Point 2:  God is at work in the Wait

The length of time they waited was no surprise to God though; He had already been at work hundreds of years preparing for this time.  We can know that even in the wait, God is at work.

Look up & Read Malachi 3:1 & Isaiah 40:3

In that last book of the Old Testament, the one God had Malachi write about 400 years before the birth of Zechariah's and Elizabeth's son, it says -

"I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before Me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to His temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come," says the Lord Almighty." (Malachi 3:1, NIV)

Even about 400 years before that, the prophet Isaiah wrote about their son too -

"A voice of one calling: “In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord;
make straight in the desert a highway for our God."  Isaiah 40:3

Read Luke 1:57-66

57 "When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son. 58 Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they shared her joy.

59 On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him after his father Zechariah, 60 but his mother spoke up and said, “No! He is to be called John.”

61 They said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who has that name.”

62 Then they made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child. 63 He asked for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s astonishment he wrote, “His name is John.” 64 Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue set free, and he began to speak, praising God. 65 All the neighbors were filled with awe, and throughout the hill country of Judea people were talking about all these things. 66 Everyone who heard this wondered about it, asking, “What then is this child going to be?” For the Lord’s hand was with him."

The complete story of John the Baptist is a whole other lesson, but do have the group recall how the prophecies in the Old Testament came to be exactly as promised.  God had a plan and God had prepared; even in the wait, much was taking place that could not be seen.

Christmas Bible Study Conclusion:

In times of waiting in our lives, we can trust God's plan and that He is at work.  Nothing takes God by surprise.

A great deal took place that first Christmas even before Jesus was born.  In the wait there was great expectation and probably also fear of the unknown for those who lived it.

This Christmas may we keep our eyes and hearts open with great expectation of all God has ahead of us even to the second coming of Christ.  The world may seem scary, but God is in control and can be trusted with it all.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going."5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really know me, you will know[b] my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” (John 14:1-7)

“I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).

Christmas pink ornament

Christmas Story - Interactive Options


A few additional Christmas Bible study fun activities for children include:

  • Musical Chairs - Place chairs in a circle or back-to-back in a line and have kids walk around them with music playing.  As they wait for the music to stop and claim their seat.
  • Ten Finger Thanks - Waiting is a great time to develop an attitude of gratitude.  Teach kids that when they are waiting to begin thinking a "thanks" for each of their ten fingers.


  • Prophecy Match Up - Print a copy of the Prophecy Matches and have teens find their match.


  • Make a list of all the times you wait.  Think about how you could capture these times for God's glory such as a few minutes to pray, encourage someone, practice memory verses, share your testimony, etc.  

More Christmas Bible Study Lessons to celebrate our Lord & Savior, Jesus Christ!

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