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December 15, 2017

What Then Will This Child Be?

by Mark Fulmer

...Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. And her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. And on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child. And they would have called him Zechariah after his father, but his mother answered, "No; he shall be called John." And they said to her, "None of your relatives is called by this name." And they made signs to his father, inquiring what he wanted him to be called. And he asked for a writing tablet and wrote, "His name is John." And they all wondered. And immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God. And fear came on all their neighbors. And all these things were talked about through all the hill country of Judea, and all who heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, "What then will this child be?" For the hand of the Lord was with him.

Zechariah's Prophecy

And his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying,

"Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,for he has visited and redeemed his people and has raised up a horn of salvation for usin the house of his servant David, as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us; to show the mercy promised to our fathersand to remember his holy covenant, the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. 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 peoplein the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us or when the sunrise shall dawn upon us; some manuscripts since the sunrise has visited us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and
in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace."

And the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day of his public appearance to Israel.

Luke 1:57-80 (https://pcpc.us1.list-manage.com/track/click?u=eba67192d3a27da52e93fefb8&id=65b3744881&e=82a9a8f891)

Most of human history would have called the idea preposterous. Just the thought of such a thing would have been regarded as fantasy. Oh, we've had our lamps and lanterns and torches and hearths. But the notion that simply flipping a switch could instantly blast away the shadows? That would have seemed pure folly. Think of it. The common use of the common light bulb has only occurred since about 1880. Before that, people everywhere lived with the ever-present reality of creeping darkness just beyond the tiny glow of the fire.

Living in a world lit only by flame is hard for us to imagine. But remember the panic we feel when the storms get bad and the lights go out? In an instant, you rush for the candles or hope for fresh batteries or stumble to find the frightened child. Those few minutes of unwelcomed darkness are a palpable reminder that darkness can overcome us. The blackness of the storm feels thick and sticky. We are swallowed by it.

It's no wonder that Scripture so often uses the imagery of darkness to teach us of the pernicious power of sin. The Bible makes plain that when sin entered the world, and when sin controls our heart, we live in the shadowy dark valley of death. And all of us, when we strain to see in the inky blackness of our own soul, long for the sunrise. Even in our electrified, night-light world, we are right to be afraid in that kind of darkness. If we're honest, our hearts cry out, "When will the light come on? Who will comfort me in the dark?"

It's no wonder that God, in His mercy, promised a savior who would destroy the darkness. The prophet Isaiah proclaimed, "The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone" (Isaiah 9:2). And John the Baptist's dad, when he could finally speak again, said about his son,

"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, because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high 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 1:76-79)

It's no wonder that the Apostle John begins his account of Jesus by teaching us,

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." (John 1:1-5)

It's no wonder that the Lord Jesus would use language that every human heart understands when He proclaimed, "Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, 'I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life'" (John 8:12).

And it's no wonder that the wonder of Christmas bids us come. Come into the light. He will drive away your darkness. Thanks be to God!

About the Author

Mark Fulmer
Elder
Park Cities Presbyterian Church

Mark Fulmer is an elder at Park Cities Presbyterian Church, and along with Steve Vanderhill, teaches the New Creations Sunday School class.

 

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God's Holy Fire from Heartlight

God's Holy Fire is a daily devotional about the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
  • Moment of Glory

    The moment [Jesus] came out of the water, he saw the sky split open and God's Spirit, looking like a dove, come down on him.

    Mark 1:10 MESSAGE

    Key Thought

    Winning the Super Bowl, winning the World Cup, winning Wimbledon, winning the British Open, winning the Daytona 500, and winning the World Series are considered lifetime achievements for those involved in the respective sports. Yet none of these victories even approaches the significance of the moment in today's verse. Jesus, with droplets of water from the Jordan River running down his face, is honored in a powerful way by God. More than just the words of affirmation that Jesus receives (Mark 1:11), heaven is torn open — surely a sign of a world-changing event. The Holy Spirit of God comes in a visible form to show heaven's approval. Jesus is recognized as awesome: not awesome in the sense of some great athletic achievement, but as one who is worthy of awe and reverence. God the Father and God the Spirit show the majesty of God the Son. The new age of God's grace is signaled by the heavens opening, and the power and peace of this grace are seen in the coming of the Spirit.

    Today's Prayer

    O God, revealing yourself as Father and Son and Spirit, thank you for your majesty — your glory, holiness, and might. Thank you as well for your proximity — your willingness to be incarnated in Jesus and being present again through your Holy Spirit in us. Forgive us — please forgive me — for not reverencing you as you deserve. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.


    Ⓒ 1996-2018 Heartlight, Inc. This material may not be reproduced in part or whole for commercial use without written consent. The Thoughts and Prayer for God's Holy Fire are written by Phil Ware.

    Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

    Scripture quotations marked MESSAGE are taken from THE MESSAGE, copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

  • Jesus Will Baptize with the Holy Spirit

    [John the Baptizer:] "I baptize you with water, but [Jesus] will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."

    Mark 1:8 NIV

    Key Thought

    Jesus was and is directly involved in sending the Holy Spirit to his followers. He did it when initiating the dawn of the church with the coming of the Spirit that first Pentecost (Acts 2:33-39). Jesus also poured out the Spirit into the hearts of everyone who came to him in faith and baptism (Titus 3:4-7). Paul taught that the gift of the Spirit is the seal of our belonging to God and of our salvation (2 Corinthians 1:21-22; Ephesians 1:13-14) and the proof that we are God's children (Romans 8:16). The presence of the Spirit is crucial, as evidenced by the fact that Paul re-baptized people who had not received the Spirit when they were baptized (Acts 19:1-7). The Spirit is the promised blessing of belonging to Christ (Acts 2:33; Galatians 3:14; Ephesians 1:13-14). The blessing comes from Jesus' own promise that the Father would send the Holy Spirit to those who asked for the Spirit to be given to them (Luke 11:13). The Spirit's presence is our source of "living water" flowing from within us (John 7:37-39). We live as followers of Jesus because the Lord has given us this great gift of grace!

    Today's Prayer

    Dear God, thank you for Jesus and all that he did to give us life and bring us to you as your holy children. Thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit, your holy presence within us. We praise you and thank you for your abiding grace in us and for us, and we pray that we can share this grace with others who need to know your love. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.


    Ⓒ 1996-2018 Heartlight, Inc. This material may not be reproduced in part or whole for commercial use without written consent. The Thoughts and Prayer for God's Holy Fire are written by Phil Ware.

    Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

    Scripture quotations marked MESSAGE are taken from THE MESSAGE, copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

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