I don’t think anyone will be surprised to find out I’m more than a few days behind in my daily Bible reading. Seems to happen quite a bit lately. And when one gets behind, it can be easy to turn it more into something to check off a to-do list than something I’m reading to get to know God.
When it’s just to catch up and check off a list, it’s easier to skim through and miss out on things. Like I almost did this morning. Well, if I’m being totally honest, I kind of did skim through Numbers 19-25. 🙁
And then I started skimming through Luke chapters 1 and 2. I mean I’ve read it before. My Bible is pretty marked up there. It’ll be okay this time to skim through so I can catch up and move on with my day, right?
But then I got to verses 59-64 and started laughing.
When the baby was eight days old, they all came for the circumcision ceremony. They wanted to name him Zechariah, after his father. But Elizabeth said, “No! His name is John!” “What?” they exclaimed. “There is no one in all your family by that name.” So they used gestures to ask the baby’s father what he wanted to name him. He motioned for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s surprise he wrote, “His name is John.” Instantly Zechariah could speak again, and he began praising God.
I’ve read it hundreds of times, but today it made me giggle. Especially the part that says, “So they used gestures to ask the baby’s father what he wanted to name him…”
They used hand gestures to ask Zechariah what to name the baby. Hand gestures. I mean, seriously. He was MUTE. He wasn’t DEAF. He could still hear…he just couldn’t speak. They could totally have just asked him.
It’s kind of like people who talk really slowly and LOUDLY to people who speak English as a second language. I get the slow part. But the loud? They can hear!
I really needed that laugh this morning. It does do good like a medicine!
Then the rest of it sank in. “They” wanted to name him Zechariah (whose baby is it?), but Elizabeth and Zechariah said to name him John instead of bending to the family and social pressure to name him after his father as tradition dictated. Or any family member for that matter. In that day, naming the firstborn son a family name was a big deal. A very big deal.
And everyone was shocked. Surprised. In awe that they went against the grain. This wasn’t a doctrine. They weren’t breaking a commandment. They were choosing their son’s name.
God knew what their tradition was, but He wasn’t afraid to throw tradition out the window. God knew what kind of pressure they would face to choose a family name, but He’s not opposed to going against family and social pressures for His plan.
They obeyed God and named the baby John. And we need to be bold to obey Him…even if our family doesn’t agree. Or society. Or tradition.
You know, some of our traditions are just silly. Back in the day, it was about women wearing pants to church. Anyone else remember how taboo that was? Or if you wore a skirt but didn’t wear pantyhose??? Shocking! And if the men showed up without a suit and tie. Gasp! Oh the horror. Heathens!
But there were other things that needed to change:
When David Wilkerson went to the streets of NYC to preach to the gangs and drug addicts, his church wasn’t super happy. But if he hadn’t…..we wouldn’t have the fruitful ministry Teen Challenge is today!
Martin Luther defied the doctrine and tradition of his day to firmly contend that salvation was by grace alone and not works.
Peter went to the house of a Gentile, which was way uncool in that day, to tell them about Jesus and they got saved and filled with the Holy Spirit. He got called on the carpet for it, but that was when the door first opened for non-Jews to be saved.
Jesus healed on the Sabbath and sent the whole religious community into an uproar. He spit on the ground and made clay and put it on a blind man’s eyes and he was healed. He held a conversation with a Samaritan woman at a well by Himself. That was unheard of in that day.
What if they hadn’t broken tradition? I don’t know about you, but I’m glad they did. I’m thankful they cared more about obeying God than pleasing man and keeping the status quo.
So….I learned a couple things today.
I won’t skim through the Bible anymore. I would have missed too much today if I did.
We don’t have to talk loudly to people who speak English as a second language. They can probably hear just fine.
It’s a good thing to be bold and break traditions that need broken to advance the kingdom of God.