Wednesday 24 June 2015

Bible Book:

] asked for a writing tablet and wrote, ‘His name is John.’ And all of them were amazed.” (vv. 57, 63)

Luke 1:57-66, 80 Wednesday 24 June 2015

Psalm: Psalm 80:1-7


Today the Christian Church celebrates the birth of John theBaptist. The reading from Luke's Gospel tells the story.

You can read about John's parents a little earlier in Luke'sGospel (Luke 1:5-24). They were Zacharias andElizabeth, both "getting on years" (Luke1:7) and childless. They were both of priestly stock, and itwas whilst Zachariah was performing his duties in the temple thatan angel appeared to him, telling him that Elizabeth would have ason whose name was to be John. Zachariah's disbelief that thiswould be possible led to his being struck dumb.

Elizabeth was a relative of Mary, the mother of Jesus, and Johnwas born six months before Jesus. For an elderly woman to givebirth was a sign of God's favour - hence the rejoicing ofneighbours and relatives. The argument over the baby's nameresulted in Zechariah's regaining of speech as he affirms the nameJohn, which means "The Lord is gracious".

John the Baptist played a crucial role in the early account ofJesus's ministry - not least when Jesus came to him to be baptized(Luke 3:1-21).

John's birth, and his naming, is presented as amazing all whowitnessed the events. A strong hint of what was to come is in verse66: "'What then will this child become?' For indeed the hand of theLord was with him." There follows a prophecy from Zachariah (verses67-79) which is often used in Christian worship, known astheBenedictus, (from the Latin of the first word), "Blessed be theLord God of Israel, for he has looked favourably on his people andredeemed them."

The final words of today's passage tie the story of John's birthto the wider story of his ministry and its relationship to Jesus'ministry.

To Ponder

  • Have there been times when you found it hard to trust God'spromises? What have you learnt from those experiences?
  • John the Baptist's role was to point to Jesus. Can you think ofpeople who have done just that? Who are they? And what might you beable to learn from them?
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