RECAPTURE THE WONDER
Come, Lord Jesus. Be born anew in me. Live in my heart. Abide in my life. I await your coming.
Read LUKE 1:57-66
The Birth of John the Baptist
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.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘O come, thou rod of Jesse, free / thine own from Satan’s tyranny.’1
New babies are normally a source of joy to family and friends. John is no exception. But there is the added joy of knowing that the child is the gift of God and the result of God’s faithfulness. Then there is the question of the baby’s name. The insistence of the relatives that he should be named after Zechariah may reflect a desire to honor the elderly and afflicted priest. Elizabeth’s insistence does not convince, but Zechariah’s confirmation, combined with the regaining of his speech, clinches it. The name means ‘Yahweh (the Lord) is gracious’ or ‘has shown favor’, thus picking up a frequent theme in this chapter. Observing the debate over John’s name and especially the miraculous return of Zechariah’s speech, the neighbors are impressed. They now realize that something new is indeed happening. They don’t have all the answers – indeed they have a fundamental question – but what they can see is that in some way God is with the boy – the language of verse 66 is reminiscent of Old Testament heroes: Joseph,2 David3 and Nehemiah.4 God is once again working to bring restoration and hope.
It is hard for us, who are familiar with these stories, to capture the sense of amazement and newness that the original participants experienced. The buzz of excitement created by the story of John’s birth prepares readers for the still more amazing story which is to come. The result is that this becomes a topic of general conversation in the whole region. Is it possible that if we were able to recapture the sense of wonder, we might be able to help our contemporaries, for many of whom these stories will be new, to see them as meaningful truth rather than legends around Christmas – and to be intrigued by them?
Think of someone to whom you might chat about the wonder of Christmas; pray for an opportunity and for the Holy Spirit to be at work.
Lord, your kingdom is on the verge of breaking through. I want to be a part of your kingdom, now and forever.
1 Hymns A&M, 1861, translated from the Latin, ‘O come, O come, Immanuel’ 2 Gen 39:2 3 1 Sam 16:13 4 E.g. Neh 1:10,11
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