How does this story – of Elizabeth, Zechariah, the birth of John, the involvement of the neighbors and relatives, the relationship of all of that to the birth of the Messiah soon to come – lead us to think about and relate to God’s ways in the world? What, if anything, does it lead us to expect in our own time? How will those expectations shape us?
Those might be some ultimate questions to ask ourselves about the story we’re studying this week, Luke 1:57-80 (focusing on verses 57-66 and 76-79). [NB: don’t forget, we’re meeting on Thursday, just for this week. Back to Wednesdays next time.] Some notes on the text are here. Here are a couple of additional questions we might ask ourselves, or discuss in class, as we are meditating on this scripture:
What’s our response to this story? Where does that response seem to come from – or can we tell?
For instance: what parts of the story stand out for us, capture our attention? [Characters? Which ones? Something specific that happens? What? Words? Which ones? …] Why is that, do we suppose?]
How “close” or “distant” does the story feel to us? That is – does it feel to us more like a story “about us,” “one of our stories,” or more like a story “about them,” “someone else’s story”? What about, “part of Jesus’ story” or “not part of Jesus’ story”? Why is that, do we think?
What difference does it make to us, do we think, that we think about the story this way?
What’s going on with the neighbors & relatives – who are actually very prominent characters in this story, as it’s told? What’s their role in the story? Who or what do they seem to represent? [For instance, what mindset, attitude, … ?]
Why do they seem to oppose naming the child “John”? Does this tell us anything? What?
We might notice that the author describes the reactions of the neighbors and relatives first, and then records Zechariah’s prophetic words. Why?
What does this story tell us about Jesus, the Messiah? How does knowing that about Jesus affect what we think and feel about the Messiah?
Why is that, do we think?
If we think about the content of Zechariah’s prophecy, specifically – what’s our understanding of that? How do we see it connected to the birth of John? To the birth of Jesus?
Overall, we probably want to think about how knowing this story, and thinking about this story, helps prepare us for thinking about Jesus as the Messiah. What in this story helps us do that? And what does it seem to mean to us, to be “prepared” for receiving Jesus as the Messiah?
Image: “A Family Around a Table,” Julius Paulsen (1919), public domain, via Wikimedia Commons