Today the Pastors discuss Luke 1:57-66, which tells the story of the birth of John the Baptist. They discuss the significance of John’s birth and his role as a bridge between the Old and New Testaments. They also note the importance of the name John, which was given by God, which emphasizes the foreshadowing of John’s ministry and his connection to Jesus.
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00:00:00:39 – 00:00:29:18
Everybody. Welcome back. As we try for the third day in a row to get into our text today, we’ve had some technical difficulties. Some power outages. We’re hoping today smooth sailing. So we are in the first chapter of John in the 57th verse of the birth of John the Baptist. And Luke does an interesting thing in that interspersed with the Jesus birth stories.
00:00:29:47 – 00:00:51:04
Luke really gives us the most information that we have about John’s birth as well. John’s a figure, of course, in all the gospels, but we don’t really get much back story and Luke has taken it upon himself to give us a kind of you wouldn’t call it a Christmas story, but a kind of birth narrative for John the Baptist as well.
00:00:51:05 – 00:01:09:46
So let me read it for you then. We’ll we’ll unpack it a little bit. The time came for Elisabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy to her and they rejoiced with her. On the eighth day, they came to circumcise the child and they were going to name him Zachariah after his father.
00:01:09:46 – 00:01:32:15
But his mother said, No, he’s to be called John. They said to her, None of your relatives has that name. They began motioning to the father to find out what name he wanted to give him. He asked for a writing tablet and wrote His name is John, and all of them were amazed. Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue freed and he began to speak, praising God.
00:01:33:16 – 00:02:02:40
Fear came all came over. All the neighbors and all these things were talked about throughout the entire hill country of Judea. All who heard them pondered them and said, What then, will this child become for indeed the hand of the Lord was with him. So an interesting story here. The back story of John the Baptists birth. Remember that Zachariah has been silenced because he expressed doubt to the Angel Gabriel here.
00:02:03:41 – 00:02:27:21
Somehow he has communicated with his wife, Elisabeth, that they were told they were given the instruction to name the boy John. She wants to do that. It’s kind of a weird scene here, Michael. While other people are involving themselves in the naming and arguing about the name and and presuming that somehow a husband and wife hadn’t talked about the name.
00:02:27:39 – 00:02:53:13
But really, that’s to set up this kind of idea of a miraculous moment where Zachariah confirms the name. His name is John. And at that point, his speech is restored and he’s able to speak. And we’re going to see tomorrow what he does with that. But for Luke, that’s part of the way of setting up what happens next.
00:02:53:38 – 00:03:23:13
So let’s, you know, slow down here and just quick make note of the set up to this particular story, because I think it is interesting if we slow down here to see that late in this pregnancy, we’re told here in verse 57, the time came for Elizabeth to give birth. So we’re talking this is late, late in the pregnancy, and it’s here that the neighbors and relatives hear that the Lord has shown his great mercy to her and they rejoice with her.
00:03:23:15 – 00:03:49:06
It’s interesting that Luke goes out of his way to make this case that it’s later in this time frame when people even find out about the baby. That’s a strange kind of detail, and the commentators that I’ve read on this make note of the fact that that may in some ways point to the oddness of her pregnancy. It may once again emphasize for us how out of the ordinary it would be for her to be pregnant.
00:03:49:06 – 00:04:29:58
So the idea that now people are finding out about it, everybody is excited. And then we jump ahead here to the eighth day after. It’s this is the time when the family name would be bestowed. This is when the honoring of that child would happen. And this is an interesting moment because in the very moment that a child would be adopted into the family by name, you know, into that lineage, to that idea of generation to generation, it’s in this very moment that we are told, to your point about this kind of unveiling as the story happens, conversation, which is, you know, the crowd is in some ways arguing with this couple over what the
00:04:29:58 – 00:04:55:03
baby’s going to be named. And fundamentally, it provides Elizabeth an opportunity to speak. This is, I believe, the first time that we have Zachariah and Elizabeth in the same room, her being able to speak, him being silent. So Luke takes pains to show us Elizabeth speaking what should be. And then the crowd, as if dismissing her, comes to Zachariah, who affirms that by writing.
00:04:55:03 – 00:05:24:19
And Luke makes it clear that’s written on a tablet so that we, the reader, know that this isn’t some strange departure from the story thus far. No, he still can’t speak. And this beautiful moment then ensues, right? Because the moment in which he affirms Elizabeth’s voice and the fact that this child would be named someone outside of the family but be named John, this person that they had been told his name should be all at the same time that Elizabeth is lifted up.
00:05:24:19 – 00:05:51:32
In that moment, Zachariah regains his voice and then immediately he begins praising God, the text. So this is an amazing kind of pivotal turn story when we’re introduced to the prophetic naming of this child or the naming of this prophetic child. And simultaneously, the resolution of the Zacharias story, the lifting up of Elizabeth and her faith. There’s a lot of things happening in the midst of all of this.
00:05:51:50 – 00:06:19:21
We won’t get to the Christmas story, the birth of Jesus, until probably next week sometime. But there are some there are some foreshadowing that happen here. So what we have, he begins to speak. Fear came over all the neighbors in the Gospel of Luke, especially on the front end, when God does something amazing. Part of the reaction for people is always fear.
00:06:19:21 – 00:06:43:45
That’s why the words be not afraid or do not be afraid. Feature prevalently in the early part of the Gospel of Luke and even even through to the crucifixion and resurrection narrative, that’s going to be true. So we have this idea and then it says all of these things were talked about throughout the entire healed country of Judea.
00:06:43:46 – 00:07:12:12
So this miraculous moment in which Zachariah regains his speech, this miraculous birth of this child to older parents who had been barren. That this becomes a topic of conversation. That doesn’t mean gossip. That that means the idea of what is God up to? That people are perplexed. We’ve seen that word before, that they are considering what it means.
00:07:12:12 – 00:07:53:49
And then that’s the next place we get here. All those who heard about this pondered it and said, What shall become of this child? So we we’ve seen here once already, we’re going to see it again at the birth of Jesus. This idea of pondering, of of trying to make sense of something, of trying to look at something mysterious and understand what it means to put it in context or to weigh it and and seek to learn from it or seek to understand it, that that’s a big theme for Luke.
00:07:53:49 – 00:07:58:08
And it’s really prevalent here in this early part of the gospel.
00:07:58:21 – 00:08:28:28
It is always wise in studying the Scripture to pay close attention whenever a question is asked. And I think you raise that well here, Clint, we turn in verse 66 and we see those gathering asking, what then will this child become? And I think that this is particularly relevant because as we look at a text like this, we know that indeed, John is a little bit of a of a what?
00:08:28:30 – 00:08:54:14
Question. I mean, he is a wild individual. He both in his appearance, the Bible doesn’t often describe characters, but we get a little bit of that with John. And then we also learn of his testimony of his witness of his sermons. And he’s calling people to repentance. He is heavily respected as his ministry continues. And so Luke here is doing some extreme foreshadowing.
00:08:54:14 – 00:09:21:21
And by asking that question, by letting us into the crowd’s pondering there we are tipped off as the reader that that’s going to be a substantial and important part of John’s story. And John’s story is very much the bridge story into Jesus’s story. So what we see here in part we’re going to see in full are in the birth of Jesus and then later the ministry of these two grown men.
00:09:21:21 – 00:09:46:53
So I think that it is it’s really interesting how we, as the modern reader might think, just skip past John for us. Let’s just get to Jesus. Isn’t what this gospels about. But Luke has slowed down the narrative. He’s told us this story about Zachary, about losing his voice. Now, this story of the naming. And here we we find out that there’s this amazement, there’s this pondering.
00:09:46:53 – 00:10:15:12
There’s this question about what God is doing in this child, John, because the hand of the Lord is with him, The text says. And so so to that end, it is, I think, emphasizing its heightening, it’s inviting us, the reader, to recognize that there’s something transformational happening in this birth. What appears to just be another child is not, and that this is going to be the inauguration of an important new season in the life of the world.
00:10:15:32 – 00:10:21:27
And, you know, we are not getting that directly. We’re getting that through these indirect steps leading us forward.
00:10:23:00 – 00:10:54:41
All of the gospels emphasize the connection between Jesus and John, that that they were to movement points that essentially flow together, or at the very least that John’s movement gives way to Jesus’s movement. Luke is the only one of the gospels that gives us this back story that shows us a family connection that hints at ideas like they might have.
00:10:54:48 – 00:11:33:23
They might have grown up together that they might have interacted before. Each begins their public ministry. Those are questions we can’t know in the exact relationship between Jesus and John remains somewhat of a mystery. But there is a deep connection, a powerful, important connection in each of the Gospels. John the Baptist stands out as a prominent figure, a herald of sorts for Jesus, but a herald who the text makes clear, has his own following, his own disciples, his own preaching, his own movement.
00:11:34:35 – 00:12:04:37
John is an unimportant and mysterious figure in the background of the gospel story and in Luke gives us the, I think, the clearest and the strongest connections. So we’re not done with John the Baptist yet. We have some foreshadowing that we’ll see tomorrow. And then even as the gospel continues to unfold. But it is it is important for Luke Michael.
00:12:05:07 – 00:12:24:09
I mean, everybody knows that Luke gives us the Christmas story. I, I suspect not everybody knows that with almost the same amount of space in the first two chapters, we also get the birth of John the Baptist story. And you know that that that has to mean something for Luke.
00:12:24:18 – 00:12:52:08
Yeah, absolutely. And I think that it’s important that we not pass by without noticing that this naming question is more than just, you know, an ancillary kind of turn in the text because God has given this name for John. And so for him to be named Zachariah after his father here in verse 59, that would be tantamount to him and his parents defining this boy’s story.
00:12:52:26 – 00:13:29:39
But what is so significant is that being given the name John is the name that God has given. And in that way, he’s being dedicated. He’s he’s being set out on this path to do God’s work, God’s ministry. And so there is this kind of gospel turn. I don’t know if you would phrase it this way, Clint, but Luke and the other gospel writers as they emphasize John, there’s a way in which they want us to see that the story that John begins is ultimately the story that Jesus will move beyond.
00:13:29:42 – 00:14:01:03
Jesus will carry forward. And we know if you know your Bible, you know that John’s going to come to a very abrupt end in his life due to his ministry and due to crossing some very powerful people. And here, the idea that he’s being called to this purpose, which he will fulfill faithfully and humbly, which is, by the way, not a thing that happens very often in the gospels, most of the characters Miss Jesus or in the moment of crisis, they fail to have faith.
00:14:01:17 – 00:14:30:43
Not so with John. He when he sees Jesus, he can name him. He humbles himself before him. So John is a substantial character and I don’t want to rush ahead. You’re in the story. But the fact that his birth story has been given space ahead of Jesus, his birth story, it number one, to your point, Clint, it shows us how important John is in the gospel story, but I think it also shows us towards that original point very much how this is God’s intention.
00:14:30:43 – 00:14:59:29
This is God’s man. This is God’s faithful one who is preparing for his son. And so therefore, the name John is significant. He is not just another son of Zachariah. Now he’s been chosen by God. And this mirrors those Old Testament texts where God gives the name for the child or God provides the next generation miraculously. And so John connects us to the Old Testament, but he also moves us forward into God’s next chapter in Jesus Christ.
00:14:59:56 – 00:15:36:10
You know, we’ve said this a couple of times, Michael Luke doesn’t Luke doesn’t make the connection with the Old Testament as explicit as, say, Matthew for certain, where Matthew quotes Isaiah said or Jeremiah said, Right. But I do think John the Baptist functions as a kind of bridge between the Old Testament and the New Testament. For Luke, you have an annunciation, you have a naming, you have the sort of this will become, I think, even more clear tomorrow.
00:15:36:10 – 00:16:04:07
You have the kind of description of a prophet and prophetic work. You have the idea of a herald. And in some ways I think John the Baptist is. And when we get to Chapter three and we meet him out in the wilderness, we’ll see this from a narrative perspective. John, is that character in between. He’s he’s he’s not ordinary, right?
00:16:04:12 – 00:16:36:18
He’s not. There’s something very different about him. And and in many ways, you would say he is a throwback to that kind of the impression one has of an Old Testament prophet. And I think in some ways, Luke’s attention to John the Baptist is to help us bridge the idea of the old what we would call the Old Testament or the previous covenant and the fulfillment of that covenant in the New Covenant.
00:16:36:18 – 00:16:53:42
And so I think Luke does a really interesting job with that, with character development. I think, you know, we’ll get a chance to see some of this tomorrow as Zachariah makes a statement about some of who John will be and some of what he will do.
00:16:54:14 – 00:17:14:18
Now I think that’s well summarized. I think it would be tempting to rush ahead in this story, but let’s let’s put the brakes on here and we will continue on with Zacharias Prophecy tomorrow. I’m glad that we’ve made it this far together today, and we hope that you’ll certainly join us tomorrow as we continue all along on this study.
00:17:14:20 – 00:17:15:14
Thanks so much, everybody.
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