John T. Willis

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Birth, Circumcision, and Manifestation of John the Baptist--Luke 1:57-80

After Mary spent three months with Elizabeth and went back home to Nazareth, Luke relates the story of the birth, circumcision, and manifestation of John the Baptist. This is found in Luke 1:57-80. It falls into three parts.

I. The Birth of John the Baptist. Luke 1:57-58.
a. Elizabeth gave birth to John the Baptist. 1:57.
b. Elizabeth relatives and neighbors heard the Lord had shown his great mercy on Elizabeth, and they rejoiced with her. 1:58. See Luke 1:11-17.

II. The Circumcision of John the Baptist. Luke 1:59-66.
a. On the eighth day [following the Law of Moses in Leviticus 12:1-3], appointed people came to circumcise John the Baptist and call him Zechariah after his father. Elizabeth said his name is John. But they replied that no one has called him name in Zechariah's family. 1:59-61.
b.They went to Zechariah [who was still unable to speak--see Luke 1:20-22] to learn the correct name for Elizabeth's son. Zechariah wrote the name JOHN on a writing tablet. The people were amazed. Immediately, Zechariah began to speak and to praise God. Fear came upon the neighbors of Zechariah and Elizabeth, and the entire hill country of Judah talked about this set of events. All the people were pondering what will this child become. 1:62-66.

III. The Manifestation of John the Baptist. Luke 1:67-80.
a. Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and uttered a prophecy. He proclaims that the Lord has greatly blessed his people throughout history. 1:67-75.
b. Zechariah declares that: (1) John will be called the prophet of the Most High; (2) John will go before the Lord to prepare his ways; (3) God will give knowledge of salvation to his people by the forgiveness of their sins; (4) the dawn will break upon God's people; (5) God will give light to those who sit in darkness to guide our feet into the way of peace. 1:76-79.
c. John the Baptist grew and became strong in spirit. He stayed in the wilderness until he appeared publicly in Israel. 1:80.

John the Baptist becomes a very important person in the story of Jesus. Following pericopes will reveals various truths about John the Baptist.

Share YOUR insights and perceptions with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

God Opposes the Elite

In recent days, people in high positions in government and politics, medicine, law, education, religion, and many other human academic pursuits or fields argue that people in all these spheres or areas of work should be ELITE in future generations. If anyone examines the history of humanity, it is not surprising that this attitude will inevitably from time to time throughout human history. One thinks of Nebuchadnezzar II king of Babylon, Cyrus the Great king of Persia, Alexander the Great who brought Greece to a high situation, Adolf Hitler who declared "WE are the Master Race," Albert Einstein, and others.

BUT from God's perspective, the so-called ELITE are not really different from anyone else on earth.

GOD ALONE is to be exalted, NOT ANY HUMAN BEING. Here are a few reminders in the Bible.

1. We think of Moses as one of the ELITE. But the Bible says:
"Now the man Moses was VERY HUMBLE, more so than anyone else on the face of the earth." Numbers 12:3.

2. We think of Paul as one of the ELITE, the GREATEST apostle of Jesus Christ. But Paul repeatedly insisted he was "the VERY LEAST OF ALL THE SAINTS"--Ephesians
3:8; "the FOREMOST OF SINNERS"--1 Timothy 1:16; "the LEAST of the apostles, UNFIT to be called an apostle"-1 Corinthians 15:9.

3. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 1:18-31:
"For the message about the cross is FOOLISHNESS to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the POWER OF GOD. For it is written,
and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.'
Where is the one who is WISE? Where is the SCRIBE? Where is the DEBATER of the age? Has not GOD MADE FOOLISH the wisdom of the world? For since in the WISDOM OF GOD, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire WISDOM, but we proclaim CHRIST CRUCIFIED, a stumbling block to Jews and FOOLISHNESS to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ the POWER of God and te WISDOM of God. For GOD'S FOOLISHNESS is WISER than HUMAN WISDOM, and GOD'S WEAKNESS is stronger than HUMAN STRENGTH.
Consider your own call, brothers and sisters: not many of you were WISE BY HUMAN STANDARDS, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But GOD chose what is FOOLISH in the world to shame the WISE; GOD chose what is WEAK in the world to shame the STRONG; GOD chose what is LOW and DESPISED in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, so that NO ONE MIGT BOAST in the presence of God. He is the SOURCE of your life in Christ Jesus, who became for us WISDOM from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, in order that as it is written: 'Let the one who BOASTS, BOAST in the Lord.'"

4. Personal experience, human history, sociologists, counselors, true Christians learn soon that people committed to God from the heart are the vehicles which God uses to carry out his purposes. THE HEART, NOT academic excellence, NOT social fame, NOT human reputation, are what life is all about from God's perspective. Yahweh taught the mistaken and misled prophet Samuel:

"The Lord does not see as mortals see;
they look on the outward appearance,
but the Lord looks on the heart" (1 Samuel 16:7).

I hope and pray that all Christians will realize that we must not favor THE ELITE in economy, in government, in education, in religion, or in any other way.

Share YOUR insights and thoughts with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis