The text for this lesson is Luke 1:5–25.
- God sent John the Baptist to proclaim that the promised Savior had come. God gives us pastors to proclaim that Jesus is our Savior from sin and death.
- Law: Because I am sinful, I cannot see God’s plan of salvation, and like Zechariah, I may doubt God.
- Gospel: God sent His Son to forgive all my sins and works through His Word and Sacraments to call me to faith and strengthen my trust in Him.
- If you had an incurable disease and doctors kept promising that a cure was soon to come, how long would you wait for that promised cure? How would you react when that cure was finally made available?
- How can you receive your pastor as if he were John the Baptist?
- Read Malachi 3:1–4. How does this Old Testament prophecy prepare for the coming of John the Baptist? How does it prepare for the coming of the Savior?
- Read Malachi 4:5–6. How does John both follow in the office of Elijah and fulfill that prophet’s work?
- Look at Luke 1:5–7. Why does Luke mention the priestly lineage of Zechariah and Elizabeth (and hence John)? What does it mean that Zechariah and Elizabeth “were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord”? How would other people have viewed Elizabeth in her barrenness?
- Look again at Luke 1:8–17. When the angel Gabriel announces the birth of John the Baptist, he tells Zechariah who John is and what he will do. How will John give joy to more than just his own parents? Why is it important that John “must not drink wine or strong drink”? What will be the hallmark of John’s prophetic work?
- Look again at Luke 1:18–25. Why did the angel Gabriel make Zechariah “silent and unable to speak” until after John’s birth? How do you think the people would have reacted to Zechariah’s delay in coming out of the temple and to his silence? Why did Elizabeth seclude herself for five months after she became pregnant with John?
- In Old Testament worship, only the high priest could enter the Most Holy Place, whereas all priests served in the Holy Place, where Zechariah offered incense, that is, conducted morning and evening prayers. According to Hebrews 4:14–16 and 9:24–26, who is the High Priest for Christians? Who, then, serves as priest in the Christian “holy place”? See 1 Peter 2:9; Romans 12:1–2; and Colossians 3:12–17.
- When the angel Gabriel foretold the birth of John, God answered Zechariah’s prayer. However, as Luther points out in the Small Catechism, we also know that “the kingdom of God certainly comes by itself without our prayer.” God sent John, and later Jesus, not because of Zechariah’s prayer, but by His grace and mercy. When we pray “Thy kingdom come,” how does God’s kingdom come to us?
- The angel Gabriel said that John the Baptist would “turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God” (Luke 1:16). This is Old Testament language for “repentance.” During this time of Advent, how can you turn to the Lord your God in repentance so that you can rejoice in the birth of Christ and His salvation?
- After the angel Gabriel silenced Zechariah, he said that the good tidings he brought from God would “be fulfilled in their [proper] time” (Luke 1:20). How can you learn to wait quietly for God’s “good tidings” to be fulfilled at the proper times in the circumstances of your life? Perhaps meditating on these verses will help: Lamentations 3:25–26; Hosea 12:6; Micah 7:7; Romans 8:23–25; Psalm 37:7; and Psalm 46:10.