Anticipating the Birth of Jesus

The following excerpts come from today’s reading in Anticipating His Arrival: A Family Guide through Advent and 300 Christmas Quotations and Prayers (both 50% off during Advent).

Tuesday: Luke 1:68–79 (Part 2)

Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel,
 because he has visited to help and has redeemed his people,
and has raised up a horn of salvation for us
 in the house of his servant David,
just as he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from earliest times—
 salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all those who hate us,
to show mercy to our fathers
 and to remember his holy covenant,
the oath that he swore to Abraham our father,
 to grant us that we, being rescued from the hand of our enemies,
could serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness
 before him all our days.
And so you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High,
 for you will go on before the Lord to prepare his ways,
to give knowledge of salvation to his people
 by the forgiveness of their sins,
because of the merciful compassion of our God
 by which the dawn will visit to help us from on high,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
 to direct our feet into the way of peace.

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“If, for the first time, you had heard of the visit of the incarnate God to this world, you would be struck with a wonder which would last throughout all eternity, that God Himself should really condescend to such a deed as this. This is the heart of the gospel, the incomparable fact of the incarnation of the Son of God, His dwelling upon the earth, and His presentation of Himself as a sacrifice unto God.”

—Charles Spurgeon

Reflection

1. Who is the “child” in v. 76?

Response: The child is John the Baptist.

2. What will the child be doing, and why?

Response: He will be a “prophet of the Most High” (v. 76). He will “go on before the Lord” (v. 76) with these four purposes (this isn’t an exclusive or exhaustive list):

      •      “to prepare [the Lord’s] ways” (v. 76)
      •      “to give knowledge of salvation to [the Lord’s] people” (v. 77)
      •      “to give light to those who sit in darkness” (v. 79)
      •      “to direct our feet into the way of peace” (v. 79)

The main reason for John’s role is found in v. 78: “because of the merciful compassion of our God.”

3. How does this relate to our anticipation of Christ’s return?

Response: In Luke 1:68–79, Zechariah clarifies the role of John the Baptist as one of announcer and preparer. Some of the same things that John the Baptist did to “prepare the way of the Lord” are things that we can do to prepare for and anticipate the second advent of our Lord, savior, and king.