God’s mercy revealed in John the Baptist

John the Baptist shined a light for others in preparation for Jesus' birth. Photo from St John the Baptist, Crondall Street, Hoxton

John the Bap­tist shined a light for oth­ers in prepa­ra­tion for Jesus’ birth. Pho­to from St John the Bap­tist, Cron­dall Street, Hox­ton

As we cel­e­brate the birth of Jesus’ cous­in, John the Bap­tist, we see Zechariah’s mouth open and his tongue free after he wrote “John” on a tablet when asked what name to give his new born son. Imme­di­ate­ly after Zechariah’s mouth was open, he praised the Lord, bless­ing and giv­ing thanks to God.

Just as Zechari­ah, we too should praise God with bless­ings and thanks­giv­ings when we awake in the morn­ing before any­thing else can exit our mouths. Remem­ber Zechariah’s mouth was sealed when he ques­tioned God’s mes­sen­ger, the Angel Gabriel, who pro­claimed the good news of Elizabeth’s birth of John the Bap­tist. So before neg­a­tive thoughts of that big math test that awaits or the com­mute in the snow enter our minds, we should stop and con­tem­plate Psalm 118:24: “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.”

Fur­ther in the Gospel of Luke, Zechari­ah is filled with the Holy Spir­it and begins to proph­e­size about the Lord’s promise of deliv­er­ance to the Jew­ish peo­ple.

Thus He has shown the mer­cy promised to our ances­tors, and has remem­bered His holy covenant, the oath that He swore to our ances­tor Abra­ham, to grant us that we, being res­cued from the hands of our ene­mies, might serve Him with­out fear in holi­ness and right­eous­ness before Him all of our days.” Luke 1:72–76.

By the ten­der mer­cy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in dark­ness and in the shad­ow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” Luke 1:78–79.

Like the peo­ple of God in the Old Tes­ta­ment, and through our faith, we too share with the Jew­ish peo­ple the lega­cy of being called, the heirs of God’s promise of sal­va­tion. We believe that this promise was ful­filled in the birth of Jesus. God the Father promis­es to shine a light on our path to guide us in peace.

So when you are in a place of dark­ness, why be anx­ious? God promis­es to watch over us and to grant mer­cy and grace in the time of need.

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