Aloha Friday Message – June 22, 2018 – His name is John

1825AFC062218 – His name is John

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 Luke 1:59-60 59 On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him Zechariah after his father. 60 But his mother said, “No; he is to be called John.”  61 They said to her, “None of your relatives has this name.” 62 Then they began motioning to his father to find out what name he wanted to give him. 63 He asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” And all of them were amazed.

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! It’s already getting toward the end of June! The Summer Solstice has arrived and passed! How did that happen so quickly? It was just a day or so ago when we passed out Valentine Cards, wasn’t it? It’s always surprising when something you’ve looked forward to for a long while suddenly arrives at your doorstep, and then >>¡POOF!<< it’s over!

This coming Sunday would customarily be the eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time. However it is one of those rare occasions when June 24th occurs on a Sunday. The most recent previous time was in 2012. It will happen again in 2029, 2035, 2040 and 2046 (the year I turn 100!) June 24th is the day many Christians celebrate the birth of John the Baptist. It is given the rank of a Solemnity, a festival day of the highest rank in the Roman Catholic calendar. Solemnities have additional Masses associated with them – a Vigil Mass the preceding evening, a Mass at Dawn, and a Mass during the Day. As with certain Christian feasts, the event is not intended to celebrate a specific date, but rather to commemorate a significant occurrence. The Nativity of John the Baptist is linked to the Nativity of Jesus on December 25th and is set 6 months in advance because when Gabriel announced to Mary she would bear the Messiah, he told her “… your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren.” (See Luke 1:36-37) John plays a essential role in the early days of Jesus’ ministry. He is referred to as “The Forerunner” in some cultures because of two very specific prophecies in Isaiah and Malachi:

Isaiah 40:3A voice cries out:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

Malachi 3:1 1 See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight—indeed, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts.

The Apostle Matthew in his Gospel first states Matthew 3:3 This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said,
“The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight.’”

Later Jesus himself says of John Matthew 11:10 *– 10 This is the one about whom it is written,
‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way before you.’

(*I strongly encourage you to read Matthew 11. It won’t even take 2 minutes. The link provided will display the entire quotation of what Jesus said about John.)

In the Gospel of Mark, the author states in Mark 1:1-3 1 The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

As it is written in the prophet Isaiah,
“See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way;
the voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight,’”

John the Baptist even makes a statement about this himself. (See John 1:19-34.) He denied that he was the Messiah, or Elijah. He declared that he did not know who the Messiah was – yet – but knew that his arrival was imminent. He said “‘After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel. (Use the link to see this in context.) He grew up in the wilderness, and was probably about 30 years old when he started baptizing people “for repentance.”

He was named by “an angel of the Lord” – Gabriel – who appeared to John’s father, Zechariah. Zechariah was told to give him the name John: Luke 1:13-15 13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John. 14 You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He must never drink wine or strong drink; even before his birth he will be filled with the Holy Spirit. In Hebrew he would have been John son of Zechariah (Yokhanan ben Zkaryah) In Luke the Greek name is Ἰωάννης (Ioannes) {ee-o-an’-nace} a name of Hebrew origin: יוֹחָנָן (Yochanan) {yo-khaw-nawn’}.

The name Yokhanan means “Jehovah is a gracious giver.” Certainly to his parents, who were well beyond childbearing years and had no children because Zechariah’s wife, Elisabeth was barren, the gift of a child was indeed a very gracious gift! His parents knew the purpose of this wonderful gift – remember that Elisabeth knew Mary was pregnant with Jesus the Messiah and when Mary greeted her, Yokhanan recognized the presence of the Messiah and Elisabeth said, “For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy.” (See Luke 1:41-45) We might deduce that the two boys grew up separately – Jesus spent some time in Egypt as a child and went to Nazareth in his youth and John apparently stayed in Judea in the hill country and desert.

John continued baptizing even after Jesus had selected at least some of his Disciples. There are some indications that Jesus’ Disciples were also baptizing (See John 3:23 and Mark 4:1-3) eventually, though, John began to realize that his assigned role was coming to an end; he had announced the coming of the Messiah, and angered King Herod by condemning him for an unlawful marriage. Here’s what he said about his career as The Forerunner:

John 3:30-36* 30 He must increase, but I must decrease.” 31 The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks about earthly things. The one who comes from heaven is above all. 32 He testifies to what he has seen and heard, yet no one accepts his testimony. 33 Whoever has accepted his testimony has certified this, that God is true. 34 He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. 35 The Father loves the Son and has placed all things in his hands. 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but must endure God’s wrath. (*The link provided opens the Gospel at verse 22 to show the whole dialogue of John’s statement.)

John was indeed the herald of God’s greatest plan – the coming of the Messiah. The world had been waiting for uncountable years for that to happen, then >>¡POOF!<< there he was and just a short while later >>¡POOF!<< he was gone. John left this life a little sooner than Jesus, but not before seeing that the prophecies about him and is cousin were true. There are other men named John in the Bible. There is the Apostle John – the son of Zebedee and Salome, and brother of James the Elder –  who wrote the fourth Gospel and was known as the Belovéd Disciple. He is also quite possibly the author of three of the catholic letters. There is also John Mark – Mark is his surname – who was a colleague of the Apostle Paul and Barnabas. Lastly there is another man about whom little is known other than the fact that he was in the Sanhedrin (See Acts 4:1-6); he may have been known as Jonathan. Yokhanan ben Zkaryah, however, is still most famous for his role in pointing out the Messiah – “The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the World.” John is still with Jesus. They are both alive and calling us to meet them soon. As the Ages roll on, many are still expecting their Messiah to arrive; many more have entirely given up on that. As for me and my house, we await the Lord’s return with boundless hope because we know if we don’t see him here today, we will see him soon there. What a Blesséd Assurance (↔ Music Link) we have in that!

Belovéd, his name is, not was, John. And because it is John, we know him for who he is.

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Belovéd!

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


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Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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