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Advent 2016: Christ Was Born For This: Day 26

The Birth of John the Baptist

by

Today's Text: Luke 1:57-66

Text: Luke 1:57-66

I always cry at baby showers. It doesn’t matter how many I attend, how many ultrasound pictures I look at, or how many tiny onesies I see unwrapped—I just can’t get over the wonder of it all.

I had the joy of delivering three babies into this world in short succession, but I never got used to it. I was as overjoyed to see the profile of baby number three as I had been with his older brothers. It felt like falling in love for the first time, every time.

It’s a thread that unites all seven billion of us currently on the planet and every human being who has come before us or will arrive after we’re gone: each of our births is remarkably similar and yet, still remarkable. G.K. Chesterton once said it this way: “The most extraordinary thing in the world is an ordinary man and an ordinary woman and their ordinary children.”

This was true of Zechariah, Elizabeth, and their son, who would grow into the man we’ve come to know as John “the Baptist” (Luke 1:57-66). It was certainly true of Joseph, Mary, and the baby lying in a manger. The gospel makes it true of us too. Jesus’ work for us, and in us, is what transforms our unremarkable stories into something truly special.

John was the only child of Zechariah and Elizabeth, a couple who’d spent decades barren and childless. Perhaps they’d given up hope of ever attending a shower for their own baby since the Bible tells us they were “advanced in years” (Luke 1:7). News that a baby was on the way was first announced only to Zechariah, in the privacy of the temple, by the angel Gabriel (vv. 8-19). And while that birth announcement was extraordinary, much of their story was very… ordinary.

It was one man plus one woman, giving birth to one child who would live and breathe and function much like every other person on the planet. But John’s birth also more; it was a foretaste, a flashing neon sign that pointed toward another ordinary, yet extraordinary, birth.

He didn’t remain a baby, of course. John spent his life looking toward Jesus and declaring:

“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”
- John 1:29

Stamp that on your Christmas card. Hang it as a banner around your tree. John was declaring the true meaning of Christmas.

The gospel is the most remarkable story every told, yet the binding of the story is stitched together with ordinary details. One man and one woman beaming over one child—the child—who would take away the sins of the world.

Through our ordinary, everyday lives we get to proclaim the extraordinary gospel. Just like our births were unremarkably remarkable, each one of us is a sinner in desperate need of a Savior. His grace is available to each of us, and yet, it never gets used up, never gets old, never loses its shine.

The gospel never stops transforming ordinary men and women into extraordinary examples of God’s goodness and grace. May it never cease to take our breath away. As Christmas comes and goes, and we gaze at Christ on both extravagant days and ordinary ones, may it feel like falling in love for the first time, every time.

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Erin Davis is an author, blogger, and speaker who loves to see women of all ages run to the deep well of God’s Word. When she’s not writing, you can find Erin chasing chickens and children on her small farm in the Midwest.

  • love this today! so blessed by that challenge to have an attitude of the heart to approach Christmas like falling in love for the first time, every time! what a glorious, all-fulfilling love!! btw, you had me at GK Chesterton. ;)

  • This one reminded me of a song again, “Behold the Lamb of God” by Andrew Peterson. It’s on his “Christmas” album of the same title, and I put “Christmas” in quotes because it’s so much more than a Christmas album. It’s the story of Christ, from Genesis to Revelation. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ifL4cpKQhCo

  • SRT has the ability to make me think and dive deeper into the Word and fall more in love with our God each day. Oh, how we are mere ordinary children of an extraordinary God!

  • What a glorious gospel message! Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! Amen – we remember the baby, but look forward to the cross.

  • Amen!

  • Paige Garrison

    Oh the Lord is good. He hears our call and does not fail to answer in His perfect timing. Today I am in awe of the goodness and tenderness that God brings on my heart when I have become so hardened. Sisters, pray for me that as I continue to fight for this relationship I stay in that sense of wonder and fall on my face in worship because my God, our God, deserves all of my praise and more.

  • I so enjoy reading your responses as it encourages me to press on I, too like Rachel am waiting for a breakthrough. It’s been a long painful journey. And churchmouse’s response today was encouraging as well when she said, “may I remember that God controls time”. I will wait it’s painful but will wait. Meanwhile I’m so filled with JOY how God provided again this year for our family and there are gifts under the tree for our children.

  • Kasey Summers

    “His grace is available to each of us, and yet, it never gets used up, never gets old, never loses its shine.” His grace never loses its shine!! Love this. Amen!

  • Carissa Joy

    I love this! This came at the perfect time. Praise God for his goodness and grace and timing! Thank you for sharing :) it made my morning! James 1:17; Psalm 33:4-5

  • Thanks for the reminder, churchmouse, that my prayers WILL be answered and my burdens WILL pass, all in His time.

  • Jesus’ work for us, and in us, is what transforms our unremarkable stories into something truly special. ❤️ Thank you for sharing!

  • Diane Smith

    I have some words to a Christmas song that was popular a few years ago.” A baby changes everything” The unsearchable wisdom and riches of God made this the way for us,through His only son, Jesus Christ. Every baby becomes a way for God to keep changing everything as we all come with specific purpose and that main goal is to Glorify the Lord. A few of the comments today were about “ordinary” people. I so want to be counted as one of those whose goal isnt the next acheivement, but simply,powerfully gloriously living for Jesus!

  • Praying about how I can proclaim the extraordinary gospel in ordinary ways in 2017 and praying God will move in our generation in ordinary ways that will glorify Him!

  • My oldest daughter and I love art. At this point in life, her appreciation of it has her choosing a career I’d considered and as she grows in this area, it is such a pleasure to share this love with her. We both have lots of favorites but one that we have shared is Van Gogh. His story and heart have captured ours and we’ve been captivated by his very ordinary existance. My husband knows this and this year he used one of his business perks as a gift to the two of us before college began for her and flew us for the day to New York City so that we could lay our eyes on “The Starry Night”. Our driver dropped us off at Madison Square Garden and we walked fast as our little feet could muster to MOMA to see the masterpiece, passing scores of folks on their way to work or touring. We made our way through the crowds near the Empire State building, Times Square and Radio City Music Hall because we had one mission. We figured going there first would afford us time after to do whatever else we wanted but this was our goal. We made it just as the museum opened and headed up. We rounded a corner, passed through lots of amazing and recognizable art and being the ninny’s that we are, we both stood, dazed and tearing up at the site of it. Something so extraordinary from someone who was so ordinary, just like us. He felt small, just like we do at times. He felt unknown, just like we do. He felt alone, just like we do sometimes. He felt unloved, unwanted, unappreciated …. just like us, occasionally … BUT from all of that madness came this amazing piece and so many others like it, that nearly 130 years after his death, loads of ordinary people like us reserve a day so that we might see it. How would he have felt, had he known the impact he would have made on this world? Oh, that question fascinates me, what would history look like with that change? What would his art have been like, without the hardship and pain? I’ll never know but I do know a story where one did know the outcome, where one lived very ordinary, very very much like me, as Erin indicates. One who did know the outcome, who knew heartache, betrayal, and loneliness, and still chose to walk into death. I think to the many, many folks that day in NYC oblivious to the genuine masterpiece in their city and I just wanted to say, “Have you seen it? Are you insane that *this* isn’t on your agenda today?”. As emotional as it made me, I just wanted others to feel it, to think on it, to connect with something so ordinary, yet extradorinary at the same time and yet Christ is the same. Like John the Baptist before me, I should be thinking of folks, “Have you met Him? Is He on your Agenda today?” because there is NO other life so ordinary, yet extradorinary at the same time. There is nothing that deserves our attention, our days, and our hearts more than Him, the Lamb of God. I may love art and admire it but I know that with each stroke I appreciate, the true artist behind them … He is the one with whom my heart falls on and His ordinary life is one I am forever thankful for, so today, as I think to John’s example, I pray that I declare to those around me, “Put Him your agenda today, cast your eye’s upon the cross” because there is nothing … nothing, so deserving of our affections.

    • Skigranny1

      What a sweet story! I love your words “Have you met Him? Is He on your agenda today?” Very well said and reminds me of the excitement we should have daily as we get up and have opportunities to meet with our Lord – Who loves us beyond our understanding. Thanks for sharing….

    • Kelley

      Love this sister!! Thanks so much for sharing your heart as it spoke so deeply to mine!!

    • Jody

      Love this!!! Spoke straight to my heart, I have not been putting Him on my agenda. Thank you for sharing, B.

    • Linnea

      I sat down this morning frantically writing my list for the day…. Sadly, thoughts of my Savior were not included in my first draft. Thanks for this reminder of what is precious and is the only thing that matters. Now, By His grace, He will infuse all I do and say and think for His glory!

    • Jennette

      Beautiful! Thanks for sharing!

    • Melinda Watters

      I join you in your prayer that I will too boldly declare His story to those around me. Thanks for this challenge today!

  • Sarah_Joy

    Certainly God’s call on me this Christmas is to allow my ordinary life speak of his extraordinary grace. Often I become stressed being with my family because of my expectations and watching out for the needs of our girls and trying to soak up as much time as I can with my far-flung family all under one roof. It’s exhausting. Right before I read this I journaled my need for grace – grace for myself and everyone around me (especially the next few days).

    “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!” He has come like every other baby and yet NOT like any baby before or since. He has come to give me victory over my short fuse and stressed responses and to provide abundant peace, joy, love and grace. May His work in me today and everyday be extraordinary as I submit to Him.

    • LesleyRyden

      Sarah_Joy ME TOO Sister!!! Me too! Praying for your Christmas dynamics. Pray for mine as well?

  • “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” …Familiar words that are having a remarkable affect on me this morning. Thank you, Erin Davis. My heart is strangely warmed.

  • Catherine

    I love this: “The gospel never stops transforming ordinary men and women into extraordinary examples of God’s goodness and grace” and “Through our ordinary, everyday lives we get to proclaim the extraordinary gospel.”

    I go to a school where everyone seems perfect. They get the good grades (at an academically challenging university), are involved in all the right organizations, are talented, and have a good social life. If you aren’t “extraordinary” by earthly standards, you stick out. It is so comforting to know that I can be ordinary. I don’t have to do amazing medical research that saves lives, go on exoctic spring break service trips, have the perfect relationship/family after college, start a non-profit, etc. to “do good” in my life. I can simply be in the space God has put me (my boundary lines have fallen in perfect places) and proclaim His goodness in my life. Someone once told me that I may be the only encounter an individual has with Christ. Whether it is the person that checks me out at the grocery store or a roomate, I want to proclaim the good news of Christ in my own life and in a broader sense to everyone I know. Even if I don’t explicitly share the gospel with someone, I pray that God uses my words and actions to bring glory to his kingdom in every interaction. Praise to God that he can and does use ordinary people every day.

    • Sarah

      I love this!! Great perspective. Thanks for sharing!

    • Sue D.

      Bless you Catherine! May we all have your attitude.

    • Kelly R Smith

      Catherine, I love everything you say here. I get the idea in my head that great things for God must be BIG, HUGE things for God. The Gospel has the power to transform the small places, the places that make a significant impact. It’s not big programs or published books that matter. It is doing that thing—your thing, whatever it is—by the power of the gospel in your life. Thank you so much for sharing!

    • Sherri

      Catherine, you sound extraordinary to me. I love your insight and as I go about my day you’ve encouraged me to bring glory to His kingdom in every interaction. Thank you, have a blessed day. ☺️

    • Cristy

      So true! It kind of goes along with yesterday’s devotion about grasping your heavenly identity, and not your earthly one. While we see ourselves as ordinary, I don’t think God does at all. He is a God of diversity and creativity. We see ordinary, but He sees one of a kind.

    • Kristina

      Amen Catherine!

    • ~ B ~

      Beautiful Catherine!

    • Ginger

      Amen Catherine!

    • Lana

      Thank you for this, Catherine. Your post gave me a better understanding. I think it’s interesting because human nature has many people needing to look and feel important. In a way, it’s extraordinary to embrace being ordinary. It’s kind of like unshackling ourselves from our ego so we can truly be of service to God. And in this service, we find fulfillment.

    • Jess Gardiner

      I needed this. Thank you so much for sharing!

  • churchmouse

    “Now the time came…” When prayers seem unanswered, when He seems silent, when burdens come fast and furious, when the season is a dark and lonely one, may I remember that God controls time. My times are in His hand. The prayers will be answered. He will speak. The burdens will pass. The light will come. All in His good time.

  • I also had the mix up of scripture and devotions!

    • Amanda Bible Williams

      So sorry for the confusion, Britni! Yesterday’s HRT content was somehow loaded in today’s SRT post. This has now been corrected. Just think of it as a bonus devotional. ;) Merry Christmas! xo- Amanda

  • Christina

    Isn’t it fantastic that Scripture coincides with itself? Mary’s response to wonder was a deeply personal song of praise that acknowledged God’s work of provision, promise-keeping, and pride-opposing.

    And in the Scripture passage linked for today, the people who were present to celebrate the unexpected birth of Zechariah and Elizabeth’s son wondered, as well. They wondered at these parents’ desire to name their son a name not known in their family, contrary to custom. They wondered that as soon as Zechariah confirmed Elizabeth’s “cockamamy” instruction to so “misname” their son, he received his voice back. They wondered to the point of reverential fear. The occurrence was the talk of the region! It was not kept within those four walls. And all who heard this talk knew. They knew God was at work. They kept these wondrous circumstances tucked away in their anticipation file, knowing that something big was happening, and they just couldn’t see how God was working out the big or when the big would finally present itself.

    Yet, I wonder how many of these who wondered ended up missing the Big? How many of them could not accept that a Nazarene, born to a carpenter’s family, was, in fact, the Messiah? I feel like our family and church have been in the throes of something big. We don’t know what our big looks like, but God is definitely doing something. We’ve been without a lead pastor for a year and a half. We’ve invited two different men to assume the position, but both have eventually declined. My husband is one of the existing pastors of the church. My prayer for us as we proceed is that we will not be so blind that we miss God’s big for us. Whatever this waiting time means, whatever God has in store, my prayer is that we don’t miss God’s big for us as a church and as a family because we can’t look outside the box of our preconceived notions. Not knowing can be so frustrating sometimes. It feels like we are in limbo.

    Father, fill me with the wonder of Your hand at work. You have already provided all we need in Christ. You are a good Father who always keeps Your promises. May my anticipation not be full of doubt but of intense excitement at what You are doing. Father, thank you for this season of Advent, as we remember Your work in Your ultimate provision of the Christ child. Thank you that the waiting of this month before Christmas reminds us of Your faithfulness all year long. In Jesus’ Name.

    • Sue D.

      Thank you Christina for tying it together for us and for your amazing testimony! I’ll pray this morning for your church and God’s “big” for you. Merry Christmas!

    • hear_me_roar

      I think it’s amazing that sometimes God’s “big” is a bunch of smalls all tied together. You may already be in the midst of His Big!

  • That’s why I came to the comments. I was so confused. But I was blessed by the devotional nonetheless.

    • Amanda Bible Williams

      So sorry for the confusion. You’re right – it was the wrong devotional! This has now been corrected. Thank you for your grace! xo- Amanda

  • Tricia Cavanaugh

    It’s not just you. Even the picture to share correlates with today’s scripture. Lol
    On that note, I do love Mary’s worship to the Lord.

  • Elisabeth

    Is it just me or is the scripture part and the devotion mixed up?

    • Stacy

      I was wondering the same thing.

      • JoAnna

        Same question here… Today’s devo fits yesterday’s reading; and the same thing happened yesterday. Even the Scripture references are referring to the previous day’s reading.

    • Amanda Bible Williams

      So sorry for the confusion, friends. You’re right! Funny story: yesterday’s HRT content was somehow loaded in today’s SRT post. This has now been corrected. For those of you who had already read the incorrect devotional, just think of it as a bonus devotional. ;) Merry Christmas! xo- Amanda

  • Yesterday I met up with some old friends, whom I haven’t seen for a few years, at the place where we met some 18 years ago…we hadn’t met up, all of us together, for at least 10 years…So you can imagine, a trip down memory lane was much on the cards…. the words …’good old days’ popped up a few times…, but try as we might to stay in ‘youngdom’, life and tomorrow still came, with the storms, the shocks, the bombs, the devastations…none of us round that table had got to yesterday unscathed by a fact of life….
    My personal story, journey has been stormy, shocking, and filled with devastation along the way….but heres the thing…. Truthfully and hand on heart…I can now and often do ( as its one of my favorite verses) say…My soul magnifies the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Savior…
    I can so see where I have and used to be, but am not there now….
    My magificat, I wish could be as bold as Marys, but lowly in voice and faint words I know my God to whom I give thanks and praise, hears me, for in the moment of good, I can say, maybe louder than in moments of hurt or sadness, ‘…He who is mighty has done great things for me…’ Thank you Lord God, thank you…
    I cannot speak for my ancestors as Mary, can, but I can speak for me and the journey, God… and I walk…and the wonders along the way…His fauthfulness, goodness, mercy , grace, love…the list endless…
    My Magnificat, begins right now…..

    My soul absolutely magnfies the Lord,
    My spirit will and shall rejoice in God my Savior…where would I be without you Lord God, Thank you…Amen.

    Blessings sisters…Happy Thursday…xxx

    • Rachel

      Thank you for your words. I am in the middle of a time of waiting for breakthrough and yet I still feel God’s hand at work in these hard times. Praise him that he uses both good and bad to bring us close to Him.

    • churchmouse

      Your words are such a testimony to your walk of faith. I so appreciate you sharing them here. I rejoice with you and I lay your words up in my heart. Bless you, Tina.

    • SBTaunton

      Thank you for sharing Tina! I have felt this way for a while but I wouldn’t have known how to put it in such beautiful words!

    • ~ B ~

      How thankful I am, like you, that “I can see where I have been and used to be, but am not there now…” …. So incredibly grateful for grace over my life. Continuing to hold you and yours up in prayer, friend!

    • mixmemeg

      Thank you for sharing Tina! This song came to my mind and I wanted to share it with all of you… I discovered it a few years ago and it has since become one of my most favourite Christmas songs!!

      https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Jbo3tjoazww

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