Reflections: The Nativity of St. John the Baptist

Today’s Reading: Luke 1:57-80

Daily Lectionary: Proverbs 30:1-9, 18-33; John 20:1-18 

“And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins.”
(Luke 1:76-77) 

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Zechariah’s tongue is finally loose. Nine months of silence. Nine months of not being able to speak with Elizabeth about this miracle within her, not being able to speak with Mary upon her visitation about the greater miracle that had been bestowed upon her. Nine months of a stopped-up tongue so he might know that when the Lord promises a promise, a promise shall be fulfilled.

And so, on the day of his son’s circumcision, the day in which his name is given to him before God and before his family, Zachariah is able to speak once again. But he doesn’t just speak, he prophesies, he sings! He sings a song of salvation, a song of redemption, a song of forgiveness and life and promises everlasting. The fulfillment of the oath sworn centuries before, now being ushered in through this miracle son of his.

I wonder if this was a spontaneous prophecy, or if it was the Holy Spirit working within Zechariah for the last nine months. Were these lyrics running around in his head to a tune that had never been heard before by anyone except himself, and now he gets to proclaim this well-crafted hymn to all of creation? Or did he beep-bop and scat this thing out like jazz, so overwhelmed and overcome with the Holy Spirit that he barely had time to recognize the very things that he was saying?

In the end, it doesn’t matter; it’s just something fun to ponder. But whether this song of Zechariah was crafted or spontaneous, it pointed forward to a day that was fast approaching. Six months later the real miracle would be performed. And while the world would have to wait a couple of decades to see it all pay out with Jordan waters and a head on a platter and a Savior on a Cross, the time was at hand. Salvation had come to God’s people in the very way that He had promised. And this eight-day-old boy named John was going to be the one to tell the world about it. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. 

Almighty God, through John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ, You once proclaimed salvation. Now grant that we may know this salvation and serve You in holiness and righteousness all the days of our life; through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (Collect for the Nativity of John the Baptist)

-Rev. Eli Lietzau is pastor of Wheat Ridge Evangelical Lutheran Church in Wheat Ridge, CO.

Audio Reflections speaker: Rev. Duane Bamsch

Come on an adventure with author Eric Eichinger as he unpacks the saga of Jesus’ Hero Journey. You’ll see how aspects of this journey are seen in popular stories, and how God used Jesus to create the most action-packed one with a real Savior for all. Now available from Concordia Publishing House.