Monday 25 June 2012

Bible Book:

"He is to be called John." (v. 60)

Luke 1:57-66, 80 Monday 25 June 2012


The insight and steadfastness of women is central both to thebeginning and end of Luke's Gospel: Mary, Elizabeth and Anna in thebirth stories, the female disciples of Jesus at the cross and emptytomb. Elizabeth is clear about God's intention and John's name,even though, in a patriarchal society, Zechariah has to at leastappear to have the final say. Zechariah has been struck dumbbecause he did not accept the angel Gabriel's prophecy at facevalue (Luke 1:5-20) and now the villagers exert socialpressure on Elizabeth to give her baby a conventional family name(verses 61-62). But Elizabeth's stubbornness - and God's purposes -win out in the end. Prophecy has been fulfilled.

But the story does not end there. It moves from the fulfilment ofprophecy to a new, forward-looking, prophecy. Verse 66 asks thequestion: "What then will this child become?" The answer is givenin the Song of Zechariah (verses68-79), traditionally called 'The Benedictus' from the Latinfor its opening word 'blessed' (v. 68). Although omitted fromtoday's passage, it is traditionally included in the order formorning prayer. Through John, the way will be prepared for theLord's return. God's promised liberation will come to God's people;it will lead them away from fear and captivity and towardsforgiveness, salvation, holiness, light and peace. John, in otherwords, is to be the forerunner of Jesus.

All that remains hidden in the future as John grows up to be'strong in spirit' and moves out into the wilderness of Judaea (Luke3:2). The wilderness was traditionally a place of fear; wildbeasts and evil forces were at large. But it was also the placewhere people (like the Essenes who made their home near the shoreof the Dead Sea) went to find a fresh vision of God and a morefocused life of prayer.

To Ponder

What social pressures do you have to resist ifyou are to accept God's challenge and share in God's purpose andwill?

What has happened to you recently that makes youwant to praise God?

How might you find a 'wilderness' where you candeepen your relationship with God?

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