'Week 2
John the Baptist'

Monday Reflection

7th December 2020

'See I will send you the prophet....'

Almost everyone,
believer and non-believer alike,
has heard of John the Baptist.
He is one of the most
significant and
well-known figures
in the Bible.

John the Baptist
was one of the most influential
men in all of history;
this man lived in the desert;
ate locusts

(actually, it's more likely
that this doesn't mean
the grasshopper like,
jumpy things that swarm
and devastate crops,
but what the locals call
the pods of the Carob tree)
and wild honey.

He wore clothes from
camel's hair with a
leather belt,
and lived for one
purpose alone -
to point others
to Jesus Christ.

In this age
where so many are driven
to seek hard after success,
recognition and fame,
his life seems to be in
direct contrast to
how the world calls us
to live out today.

The passion that fuelled
his life compels us to look
more closely
and to learn from the
heart of this wise,
powerful man.

Prophets of old,
Isaiah and Malachi
both spoke of his coming;
but for 400 years
there had been silence
between the
Old and New Testaments,
and then John came
to prepare
the way of the Lord.

Malachi ends with these
powerful words closing both
the book and Old Testament
with the hope of what
was still to come,

"See I will send you
 the prophet Elijah
 before that
 great and dreadful
 day of the Lord comes.
 He will turn the hearts
 of the fathers
 to their children,
 and the hearts
 of the children
 to their fathers"

.... (4:5,6)

Many years before then,
Isaiah had spoken
these words about John,
who, like himself,
would also be a prophet
preaching repentance,
encouraging people to live
for God alone.

"A voice of one calling:
 In the desert prepare
 the way for the Lord,
 make straight
 in the wilderness
 a highway for our God"


John's parents,
Elizabeth and Zechariah
were from the tribe of Levi
and descended from Aaron
which made John a Levite
as well as from
the priestly line.

Elizabeth had been barren
for many years;
she was old when
she became pregnant with John.

Yet, as always,
God's timing was not
late or early;
it was right on time.

He knew that John needed
to be the forerunner of Christ
at this specific time
in history.

John was a relative to
Jesus himself (second cousin),
and in that very significant
visit of Mary to
Elizabeth's home
to announce her own
miraculous pregnancy,
the Bible says that

"the baby leaped
 in her womb and
 Elizabeth was
 filled with
 the Holy Spirit"

(Luke 1:41).

Even before his birth,
John's purpose was being
aligned to God's calling.

Zechariah and Elizabeth
recognized the clear calling
of the Lord on their son;
they embraced and
encouraged it.

Normally in that society,
the firstborn son
would be named after
the father or
would receive
at least a family name.

But both parents honoured
the words given to them
by the angel Gabriel
who had announced
John's birth and purpose
before he was even conceived.

Because Zechariah
had doubted this word
at the angel's visit,
he had been silenced,
unable to talk,
until John was born,
he wrote these
powerful words
on a tablet.

"His name is John"

(Luke 1:63).

The Bible says that
his mouth was opened
and he began praising God
then prophesied
these words over
his precious child.

"And you my child,
 will be called a
 prophet of the Most High,
 for you will
 go on before the Lord
 to prepare
 the way for him,
 to give his people
 the knowledge of
 salvation through
 the forgiveness
 of their sins"

(Luke 1:76-77)

The passage goes on
to say that John

"...grew and became strong
in spirit and
he lived in the desert
until he appeared
publicly to Israel"

(v. 80)

Very little is known
about John's childhood
and adolescence.

There are strong indications
that his parents
could have died
when he was young
and he went to join the
Essenes community
in the Judean desert.

Prophets were known
to use the isolation
of the desert places
to grow spiritually
over time and to focus
their message on God.

By living apart from the culture
in preparing for ministry,
John was able to speak
with great passion
and clarity
for the people of that day.

What God did for John;
he does for all his children.
He created us
and has a purpose
for our lives.

Do we feel the presence
and hand of God
on our lives?

Can we respond
with the trust
and dedication
that John had?

Tomorrow we will look
at John's life and mission.