On June 24, the Holy Christian Church observes, ‘The Nativity of St. John the Baptist.”
St. John the Baptist was the son of the Priest Zechariah, and his wife Elizabeth. St. John the Baptist was born into a “priestly” family. “Both of them were upright in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commandments and regulations blamelessly.” (Luke 2:6) This is shorthand for saying that both Zechariah and Elizabeth were numbered among the faithful, believing that one day, the Almighty would send the promised Messiah.
The privilege to serve in Herod’s Temple in Jerusalem, was determined by the drawing of lots. At the proper time, the lot fell to Zechariah, to serve in offering up Evening Prayer and the burning of incense. Many though it was just a coincidence that the lot fell to Zechariah. However in Proverbs, the Scriptures tell us that the Lord determines the outcome of every roll of the dice. It was no coincidence or accident. The Almighty wanted it to happen then, and so, it happened, according to His time table.
While offering up Evening Prayer, suddenly, the Angel Gabriel appeared. The Angel said the Zechariah, “your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice in his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord…many he will bring back to the Lord their God,” (Luke 2: 13-15a)
Zechariah, the aged Priest responded by being filled with the Holy Spirit and singing a Hymn of Praise (Luke1:67-79), “The Benedictus”, which is the traditional Canticle in the Church’s Service of Morning Prayer.
As God’s Word goes forth, it does what it says. Words create reality and God’s words create God’s reality. So, miraculously, Elizabeth, even though she was old and barren, past the age of having children conceived, and St. John the Baptist was born.
Zechariah doubted the promise of the Angel Gabriel, (God’s Word) because of the age of his wife, Elizabeth. So Zechariah was not able to speak until all these things had passed. What a great God you and I have. He is able to work outside of man’s reason, and even outside of His own creation, to do what He needs to get done for His will to be fulfilled.
At the proper time, St. John the Baptist did the work assigned to Him by the Lord. His job was to turn the hearts and minds of the Jews, to make them ready to receive Jesus as their King and Messiah. St. John the Baptist did his work at the River Jordan, in the wilderness. His work was accomplished by the proclamation of the Law, “Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand.” This was followed by the Gospel, “Be baptized for the forgiveness of your sins.” In this repentance, the hearts and minds of the Jews were transformed.
This is also how we are transformed in the Divine Service through Confession and Absolution, hearing the Word in a Law and Gospel manner, and Holy Communion.
Have A Great June Pastor Brad Rick