John The Baptist Would Prepare The Way For The Messiah
76 “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,
77 to give his people the knowledge of salvation
through the forgiveness of their sins,
78 because of the tender mercy of our God,
by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
79 to shine on those living in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the path of peace.”
80 And the child grew and became strong in spirit; and he lived in the wilderness until he appeared publicly to Israel.
Proclaiming the Prophet
Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, had been struck mute when he was confronted by the angel Gabriel concerning the birth of his son. After proclaiming his son’s name by writing it on a tablet, the condition was removed, and Zechariah began to prophesy concerning his son. The first words from his mouth were praise and glory to God followed by the announcement that his son, John the Baptist, would be a prophet. He then spoke of a few characteristics concerning John.
Prepare a Path
John the Baptist was to prepare the way for the Lord. John fulfilled this prophesy by proclaiming that the people needed to be baptized for their sins:
1 In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar—when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene- 2 during the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. 3 He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 4 As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet:
“A voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.
5 Every valley shall be filled in,
every mountain and hill made low.
The crooked roads shall become straight,
the rough ways smooth.
6 And all people will see God’s salvation.'”
John came out of the wilderness when the Spirit of God came to him. He baptized by water all who desired to be prepared for the coming messiah.
Speak of Salvation
John spoke of salvation to the people, not only baptizing them for their sin in preparation for the messiah, but telling them that they needed to change by being obedient to the word of God:
7 John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 9 The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”
10 “What should we do then?” the crowd asked.
11 John answered, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.”
12 Even tax collectors came to be baptized. “Teacher,” they asked, “what should we do?”
13 “Don’t collect any more than you are required to,” he told them.
14 Then some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?”
He replied, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay.”
In each case, John the Baptist called people to stop living for themselves, and begin to love their neighbor as themselves. He encouraged them to produce fruit in keeping with repentance. Merely going through an act was not going to do them any good. They were to have a change of heart, and live their lives in such a way that they showed the change. Salvation came to those whose hearts were changed by the word of God so that they would believe God.
The people wandered in their hearts if John the Baptist was the messiah. He pointed people to the messiah and responded:
15 The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Messiah. 16 John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” 18 And with many other words John exhorted the people and proclaimed the good news to them.
John the Baptist faithfully pointed people to the messiah, and consistently told them that he was not the one they were looking for. And when he saw his messiah come to be baptized by him, he faithfully announced Him to the crowds:
29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.”
32 Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. 33 And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.”
John the Baptist faithfully did everything that was required of him, and fulfilled the prophecy of his father in accordance with the will and word of God. In every way, John had grown stronger in spirit in preparation for his coming assignment to prepare the way for the Lord. John was faithful in all that he did.
A Qualifying Question
Let’s ask a question: Am I fulfilling the purposes that God has prepared for me to do for him?
A short prayer of preparation:
Father in Heaven, You have shown me the way to salvation. Give me the strength and desire to bear fruit in accordance with my profession of faith in the completed work and shed blood of my Savior. Help me to honor and glorify Your name with the works that You have prepared for me to do since before the foundation of the universe. Strengthen me this day that I might be steadfast in shining for You as a light on a hill. Prepare the soil of the hearts of all that Your word would take root and bear much fruit, for I know that time grows short and the return of Your son in imminent. Help me to be aware of this always as I go about my day, and be in tune with Your spirit, yielding my spirit to You as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing in Your sight. This I ask and pray in Jesus’ Name, Amen.