God’s Saving Word: Joy
Luke 1:57–80: Today’s reading picks up the storyline from verse 25. John the Baptist is born and Zechariah is once again able to speak. The Holy Spirit enables him to prophesy concerning his son, and he praises God.
The Birth of John the Baptist
57 The time came for Elizabeth to have her baby, and she gave birth to a son. 58 Her neighbors and relatives heard how wonderfully good the Lord had been to her, and they all rejoiced with her.
59 When the baby was a week old, they came to circumcise him, and they were going to name him Zechariah, after his father. 60 But his mother said, “No! His name is to be John.”
61 They said to her, “But you don’t have any relative with that name!” 62 Then they made signs to his father, asking him what name he would like the boy to have.
63 Zechariah asked for a writing pad and wrote, “His name is John.” How surprised they all were! 64 At that moment Zechariah was able to speak again, and he started praising God. 65 The neighbors were all filled with fear, and the news about these things spread through all the hill country of Judea. 66 Everyone who heard of it thought about it and asked, “What is this child going to be?” For it was plain that the Lord’s power was upon him.
67 John’s father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit, and he spoke God’s message:
68 “Let us praise the Lord, the God of Israel!
He has come to the help of his people and has set them free.
69 He has provided for us a mighty Savior,
a descendant of his servant David.
70 He promised through his holy prophets long ago
71 that he would save us from our enemies,
from the power of all those who hate us.
72 He said he would show mercy to our ancestors
and remember his sacred covenant.
73-74 With a solemn oath to our ancestor Abraham
he promised to rescue us from our enemies
and allow us to serve him without fear,
75 so that we might be holy and righteous before him
all the days of our life.
76 “You, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High God.
You will go ahead of the Lord
to prepare his road for him,
77 to tell his people that they will be saved
by having their sins forgiven.
78 Our God is merciful and tender.
He will cause the bright dawn of salvation to rise on us
79 and to shine from heaven on all those who live in the dark shadow of death,
to guide our steps into the path of peace.”
80 The child grew and developed in body and spirit. He lived in the desert until the day when he appeared publicly to the people of Israel.
Today’s Key Verse: Luke 1:76–77
[Zechariah said:] “You, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High God. You will go ahead of the Lord to prepare his road for him, to tell his people that they will be saved by having their sins forgiven.”
Just as Elizabeth had been filled with the Holy Spirit when she greeted Mary (Luke 1:41), Zechariah is “filled with the Holy Spirit” (verse 67) following the circumcision of his son, and he is now able to speak again. What caused Zechariah and Elizabeth’s neighbors to be “filled with fear” (verse 65)? Like Mary’s song of praise (Luke 1:46–55), Zechariah’s prophecy tells of God’s faithfulness (verses 68–79). What does Zechariah prophesy about his son? What ancient promises does he recall?
God of hope and promise, you remember your sacred covenant and cause the bright dawn of your salvation to rise on us. You are merciful and loving. Guide my steps this day in the path of peace. Amen.
Luke 2:1–20: Jesus is born and shepherds are the first to hear the good news.