24th June 2020
Many churches celebrate the birthday of John the Baptist today.
But why choose this day as there are no records of the event except
that it was 6 months before his cousin Jesus.
June 24 was eventually chosen as the date for the celebration
because Scripture tells us that John was conceived six months before Jesus (see Lk 1:36)
It seemed logical that John would be born six months earlier, June 24th.
But does it really matter the exact date of his birth?
No, the important, undeniable fact is that he WAS born.
John the Baptist is an amazing man.
Miraculously conceived, he was set apart for a holy purpose from his conception;
to prepare the way for Jesus.
John's life is an example of humility,
zeal for God's work, and passion for delivering the message of God to His people.
But why celebrate this event at all?
How can his life have anything to do with ours, they are so far apart?
I believe that by studying the lives of the saints
we can learn much which we can apply it to our day to day living.
The appearance of John the Baptist had long been prophesied in the Old Testament.
Isaiah 40:3 foretold about the work of John:
"The voice of him that cries in the wilderness,
Prepare the way of the LORD,
make straight in the desert a highway for our God."
And hundreds of years after Isaiah proclaimed it,
we read the fulfilment of this prophecy in Matthew 3:1
"In those days came John the Baptist,
preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, and saying,
repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Throughout the Bible we can read of prophesies being fulfilled.
We can trust in God with the confidence
that he will do what He promises according to his perfect timing.
We can trust God in the knowledge that he is able to fulfil His purpose;
nothing is impossible for him.
John's parents, Zacharias and Elizabeth, were well advanced in years.
The Bible tells us that Elizabeth was barren and unable to bear a child.
Yet through God's intervention Elizabeth did give birth to John (Luke 1:11-20; 1:65.)
Through this and many other acts,
God demonstrated that He is the One who does great wonders and miracles.
All creation is, his and I believe that every child is a gift from God,
lent to us; not ours but his.
From his early life, John knew what he needed to do.
He made it his lifetime commitment to put God's work first in his life.
Like John the Baptist, we should have the burning desire
to preach the Gospel to this dying world
and be prepared to spread the gospel at every opportunity.
Jesus told his disciples,
"Go throughout the whole world and preach the gospel to all people. (Mark 16:15)
John the Baptist had made an excellent reputation for himself,
Jesus considered him a great man.
However, when it was time for Jesus to enter the scene,
John was humble enough to step aside and let Christ's ministry begin.
There was no power struggle, no argument, no ill-feeling or bitterness.
There was only complete surrender and sincerity;
when asked about the ministry of Jesus, John replied
"He must increase, but I must decrease." John 3:30
"I baptise you with water for repentance.
But after me comes one who is more powerful than I,
whose sandals I am not worthy to carry.
He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire. (Matthew 3:11)
We see from this passage the great humility of John.
Carrying sandals was a task given to the lowliest of all slaves.
Though he has already made a significant following,
John didn't even consider himself to be worthy to carry the sandals of Jesus.
For Him, his life is not important, and it was all about Jesus.
This is the mindset that we need adopt.
When we made a lifetime commitment through baptism,
it is not us who live, but Christ lives in us.
Old self gone; we are a new creation in Christ.
Are we really like that?
John was never afraid to stand for what's right.
There's no doubt that standing on the truth can bring you into trouble.
This is certainly what happened to John.
After criticizing the king, he was imprisoned and ultimately executed.
Should this stop us from doing the right thing?
Of course, not!
This should rather inspire us;
many Christians even today are prepared to face death for what they believe in.
We live in a relatively peaceful area where there is little to challenge our faith.
However, there could come a time when that our faith will be tested to the limit.
Peter warns in his first letter,
"These [trials] have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith
of greater worth than gold,
which perishes even though refined by fire -- may result in praise,
glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed." 1:7
Just like John whose faith was fiercely tested,
we will also come to the point
when everything will seem to be challenging and impossible to overcome.
However, we can have the confidence that God will surely be there
with us to strengthen us through trials and persecution.
John's virtuous character inevitably made him a good example to others.
With a passion for doing God's work, people were drawn to God.
Jesus said that John
"was a burning and a shining light" (John 5:35).
With this description, we can see that John was an
excellent example of Christ's commandment to be a light of the world.
"You are the light of the world.
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works,
and glorify your Father which is in heaven" (Matthew 5:14, 16).