Reading on Luke 1 for the Nativity of St. John the Baptist

On today’s feast day, we read a devotion about the Nativity of St. John the Baptist taken from Classic Commentary on Luke.

Scripture Readings

Isaiah 40:1–5
Psalm 85:1–13
Acts 13:13–26
Luke 1:57–80


Filled with the words of the Holy Spirit, Zechariah (Zacharias in some translations) prophesied about his son’s important work to proclaim the coming Messiah. We give thanks to God for fulfilling His promise to send this Savior and for giving us forgiveness and life through Him.

Devotional Reading

The approaching advent of the promised Messiah was heralded by ecstatic outbursts of prophecy. Not only Elizabeth experienced the special influence of the Holy Spirit; Zacharias, too, was blessed in this fashion. He became a mouthpiece of the Holy Spirit and delivered a prophecy. It took on the form of a hymn, very much like the Magnificat of Mary. . . .

Commentators have correctly stated that this is the last prophecy of the Old Covenant and the first of the New. The hymn is filled with OT ideas and phraseology. Its general theme is the praise of God, who through the sending of the Messiah now is providing the rescue which He had promised long ago through the prophets. The song can be divided into two sections. The first one extols the grace of God, which has provided redemption (68–75). The second part is addressed to the infant John and prophesies the role which he is to play as the forerunner of the Messiah, giving at the same time the contents of his message (76–79). . . .

It becomes quite evident that in this hymn not political, secular advantages are spoken of, but spiritual blessings, because service of God, holiness, and righteousness are named as the things which are in prospect. The power of sin would be broken, God would be worshiped in spirit and in truth. Zacharias indicates that the long-awaited fulfillment of the promises of God, uttered by the prophets, has now come.


Almighty God, through John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ, You once proclaimed salvation. Now grant that we may know this salvation and serve You in holiness and righteousness all the days of our life; through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Read Treasury of Daily Prayer

Devotional reading is from Classic Commentary on Luke, pages 65–68 © 1956 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Prayer is from Lutheran Service Book: Collects of the Day, page 29 © 2006 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.


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