Daily Devotion for January 17, 2011
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
Martin Luther's Prayer for Morning
I give thanks to you, heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ your dear Son, that you have protected me through the night from all danger and harm. I ask you to preserve and keep me, this day also, from all sin and evil, that in all my thoughts, words, and deeds I may serve and please you. Into your hands I commend my body and soul and all that is mine. Let your holy angels have charge of me, that the wicked one have no power over me.
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time; Enjoying one moment at a time; Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him Forever in the next.
Almighty God, by your Holy Spirit you have made me one with your saints in heaven and on earth. Grant that in my earthly pilgrimage I may always be supported by this fellowship of love and prayer, and know myself to be surrounded by their witness to your power and mercy. I ask this for the sake of Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns for ever and ever
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
The Lord sustains the humble but casts the wicked to the ground.
Sing to the Lord with grateful praise; make music to our God on the harp.
John 1:19-23 (ESV)
The Testimony of John the Baptist (1)
And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, "Who are you?" He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, "I am not the Christ."
And they asked him, "What then? Are you Elijah?" He said, "I am not." "Are you the Prophet?" And he answered, "No."
So they said to him, "Who are you? We need to give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?"
He said, "I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, 'Make straight the way of the Lord,' as the prophet Isaiah said."
Notes on the Scripture
In Israel, politics and religion were so entwined that there was hardly any difference; as in modern-day Iran, religion and politics were inextricably intertwined. The Pharisees were one of the most powerful religious and political parties in Israel; they were the "progressive party" of the day and were the springboard from which Jesus took his teachings. It was against them, primarily, that Jesus rebelled.
It would have been normal practice for the Pharisees to send out a party to examine a religious outburst such as the one caused by John the Baptists, who was attracting a sizable following. They wanted to know what it was up to; it is entirely possible that, if they considered him sufficiently heretical, they would have him arrested.
John answers them truthfully; he is not the Messiah or even a prophet (as the term was used in Judaism of the day), but only "a voice crying out in the wilderness" to make straight the way of the Lord. This is a quote from Isaiah 40, one of the most famous chapters of the Bible and certainly something that would be immediately recognized by Jews of the day.
But when John says he is a "voice", in the context of John 1, there is an implication not present in Isaiah. The Gospel of John has just told us that Christ is the "Word", and that the Word would dwell among men. His statement is full of meaning that the Pharisees would not appreciate (and would not get him in trouble with them), but we who read the Gospel understand. When John the Baptist claims to be a voice, he is really saying that he is announcing God Himself.
This literary device is called "dramatic irony", where the audience knows something that those on stage do not, and so the audience realizes that dialogue means something unknown to persons on stage. The Pharisees know that a voice speaks words, but they do not know that "word" has a special meaning to John, as we do. We understand that John is announcing the arrival of the Messiah, but the Pharisees remain in the dark.