Wednesday 23 December 2015

Bible Book:

“What then will this child become?” (v. 66)

Luke 1:57-66 Wednesday 23 December 2015

Psalm: Psalm 25


In chapter one of Luke's Gospel, Zechariah has been promised byGod's angel that his wife Elizabeth, although past child-bearingage, will have a son, to be called John (Luke1:5-20). He will be a prophet like Isaiah. (In Luke3:4-6 John is described as fulfilling the prophecy in Isaiah40:3-5.) When Zechariah asks how to trust the promise he istold that he will be speechless until the child is born. Today'spassage picks up the story. It is puzzling because he appears to bedeaf as will as speechless, but elsewhere in the Gospels it isassumed that the two go together, perhaps because those who areborn deaf usually have speech difficulties as well.

Against family expectations both Elizabeth and Zechariahindependently insist that the child should be called John, and thisrestores Zechariah's speech. For Luke the whole episode is evidencethat God is at work, evoking wonder and praise.

John the Baptist is important in the Gospels, both as a prophetwho calls the people to repentance and as the one who drawsattention away from himself to Jesus who is to follow him and buildupon his ministry.

Of course a name in the ancient world was frequently more than asimple way of identifying a person. It expressed relationships andexpectations of what the child was to become. The name 'John' means'God is gracious', and while Luke does not draw attention to thefact, perhaps he expected some at least of his readers to know it.It is certainly appropriate in this case!

Verse 65 speaks of 'fear' overcoming the neighbours. 'Awe' wouldbe a better word, because we are not to think simply of terror, butof an awareness of God at work. But sadly, 'awesome' has beenweakened to become just an everyday word for 'amazing'.

To Ponder

  • Have you ever felt that a young person you knew was marked outto be special? Why? How did the person turn out? If you weredisappointed, why?
  • Have you ever experienced a genuine sense of awe? How would youdescribe it? What provoked it?
  • Should the names we give children express our hopes forthem?
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