Based on Luke 1:5-25
It seems worthwhile to provide the entire reading from Luke in today’s devotion. It is an important passage, as it tells the story of the birth of John, a prophet “in the spirit and power of Elijah,” sent to “turn the hearts” of people. The theme of Luke’s Gospel could be stated as “promises made, promises fulfilled,” as God fulfills His promise to Zechariah and Elizabeth, as God fulfills the promise He made to Mary to give birth to a son who would be named Jesus, the Son of the Most High. Finally, God would complete the promised salvation of the world, through the death and resurrection of His only begotten Son.
This child, born to Zechariah and Elizabeth is still going before the Lord Jesus, seeking to turn the hearts of mothers and fathers to their children, turning the disobedient to godly wisdom, making ready for the Lord, a people prepared. May this Lenten season help us to hear, to turn and to prepare for the Lord Jesus Christ who comes to us every week in Word and Sacrament.
Prayer: Lord our God, thank you for fulfilling your promises to us! Amen.
Lenten response: Research the name “John.” Why did God want the child to be named “John?”
This year’s devotional was prepared by the Rev. Dr. David Wendel, NALC assistant to the bishop for ministry and ecumenism. To learn more about A Lenten Walk Through the Word, visit thenalc.org/lent.
Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
1:8 For this reason I will mourn and wail;
I will walk around barefoot and without my outer garments.
I will howl like a wild dog,
and screech like an owl.
9For Samaria’s disease is incurable.
It has infected Judah;
it has spread to the leadership of my people
and even to Jerusalem!
10Don’t spread the news in Gath!
Don’t shed even a single tear!
In Beth Leaphrah roll about in mourning in the dust!
11Residents of Shaphir, pass by in nakedness and humiliation!
The residents of Zaanan have not escaped.
Beth Ezel mourns,
“He takes from you what he desires.”
12Indeed, the residents of Maroth hope for something good to happen,
though the Lord has sent disaster against the city of Jerusalem.
13Residents of Lachish, hitch the horses to the chariots!
You influenced Daughter Zion to sin,
for Israel’s rebellious deeds can be traced back to you!
14Therefore you will have to say farewell to Moresheth Gath.
The residents of Achzib will be as disappointing
as a dried up well to the kings of Israel.
15Residents of Mareshah, a conqueror will attack you,
the leaders of Israel shall flee to Adullam.
16Shave your heads bald as you mourn for the children you love;
shave your foreheads as bald as an eagle,
for they are taken from you into exile.(NET Bible)
58:1 For the music director; according to the al-tashcheth style; a prayer of David.
Do you rulers really pronounce just decisions?
Do you judge people fairly?
2No! You plan how to do what is unjust;
you deal out violence in the earth.
3The wicked turn aside from birth;
liars go astray as soon as they are born.
4Their venom is like that of a snake,
like a deaf serpent that does not hear,
5that does not respond to the magicians,
or to a skilled snake charmer.
6O God, break the teeth in their mouths!
Smash the jawbones of the lions, O Lord!
7Let them disappear like water that flows away!
Let them wither like grass!
8Let them be like a snail that melts away as it moves along!
Let them be like stillborn babies that never see the sun!
9Before the kindling is even placed under your pots,
he will sweep it away along with both the raw and cooked meat.
10The godly will rejoice when they see vengeance carried out;
they will bathe their feet in the blood of the wicked.
11Then observers will say,
“Yes indeed, the godly are rewarded!
Yes indeed, there is a God who judges in the earth!”(NET Bible)
1:5 During the reign of Herod king of Judea, there lived a priest named Zechariah who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah, and he had a wife named Elizabeth, who was a descendant of Aaron. 6They were both righteous in the sight of God, following all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blamelessly. 7But they did not have a child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both very old.
8Now while Zechariah was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty, 9he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to enter the holy place of the Lord and burn incense. 10Now the whole crowd of people were praying outside at the hour of the incense offering. 11An angel of the Lord, standing on the right side of the altar of incense, appeared to him. 12And Zechariah, visibly shaken when he saw the angel, was seized with fear. 13But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son; you will name him John. 14Joy and gladness will come to you, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He must never drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even before his birth. 16He will turn many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. 17And he will go as forerunner before the Lord in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared for him.”
18Zechariah said to the angel, “How can I be sure of this? For I am an old man, and my wife is old as well.” 19The angel answered him, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. 20And now, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time, you will be silent, unable to speak, until the day these things take place.”
21Now the people were waiting for Zechariah, and they began to wonder why he was delayed in the holy place. 22When he came out, he was not able to speak to them. They realized that he had seen a vision in the holy place, because he was making signs to them and remained unable to speak. 23When his time of service was over, he went to his home.
24After some time his wife Elizabeth became pregnant, and for five months she kept herself in seclusion. She said, 25“This is what the Lord has done for me at the time when he has been gracious to me, to take away my disgrace among people.”(NET Bible)
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016.
Luther again speaks of the infallibility of Scripture in Contra malignum J. Eckii judicium M. Lutheri Defensio, which left the press on September 30, 1519. In the preface he refers to the statement of Augustine, “I have learned to ascribe this honor (namely the infallibility) only to books which are termed canonical, so that I confidently believe that not one of their authors erred,” and continues, “but the other authors, no matter how distinguished by great sanctity and teaching, I read in this way, that I do not regard them as true because they themselves judged in this wise but in so far as they could convince me through the authority of the canonical writings or other clear deductions.” (17)
–Johann Michael Reu, Luther on the Scriptures
This daily Bible reading guide, Reading the Word of God, was conceived and prepared as a result of the ongoing discussions between representatives of three church bodies: Lutheran Church—Canada (LCC), The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) and the North American Lutheran Church (NALC). The following individuals have represented their church bodies and approved this introduction and the reading guide: LCC: President Robert Bugbee; NALC: Bishop John Bradosky, Revs. Mark Chavez, James Nestingen, and David Wendel; LCMS: Revs. Albert Collver, Joel Lehenbauer, John Pless, and Larry Vogel.