“Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son – And they made signs to his father, inquiring what he wanted him to be called – and he wrote: ‘His name is John.'” Luke 1:57, 62-63
Depending on when you read this, there are only–give or take–181 shopping days left until Christmas (or 181 days of procrastination left, depending on what kind of shopper you are). 181 days–that means we are 6 months away from the blessed Nativity of our Lord.
Why mention Christmas in June? Because the church celebrates the Nativity of St. John the Baptist this month (the actual date is June 24, corresponding to the birth of St. John the Baptizer).
John’s parents were the priest Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth. Elizabeth was unable to have children. But when an angel told Zechariah that he and his aged wife would give birth to a son, and that his name would be John, and that this son would prepare the people for the Lord, it was just too much! Zechariah’s faith was empty. God’s promise to him didn’t bear any fruit. And because of his lack of faith, the angel Gabriel told him to “Just be quiet for a while and watch God work.”
Like Zechariah we must confess that we too have had a cold response to God’s Word. God has spoken to us through His Word saying trust Me, believe in Me, live for Me, follow Me – to which our reply has been as mute as Zechariah. We have been indifferent or even bored with God’s Word; too scared, too lazy, or too prideful to let it dwell in us richly. Jesus says in John 15, “Apart from Me you can do nothing.” But if God can bring people back from the dead, He can bring you back too!
And it all started with Zechariah’s son, John. Zechariah was struck deaf and mute by the angel Gabriel, but when the time came, he let out a stream of praise like champagne bubbling out of a hastily opened bottle. His son John would “be called the prophet of the Most High; for [he] would go before the Lord to prepare his ways.” And prepare the way He would! John–wild-eyed, grasshopper eatin’ John–would point people to Jesus and say, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”
John usually points us to Jesus in Advent and Christmas. But God’s put him to work this month to point you to the greatest gift ever. No matter what your week was like. No matter what challenges you’ll face this afternoon or tomorrow or the next day; no matter how badly you botched things up again, Jesus is your gift. Drenched with His water and delighted with His wine/blood and bread/body, you are something new in Christ. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” From nothing, to something new and marvelous.
It’s June and there’s only 181 days till Christmas, but the blessing and gift of Jesus comes to you now in His Word and Promise.
Prayer: Almighty God, through John the Baptist You once proclaimed salvation. Grant that we may know this salvation and serve you in holiness all the days of our life. Amen.