Sermons

Summary: Examining the role of John the Baptist

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Luke 1:11- 17 – John – preparing a people for the Lord

Imagine agreeing over the phone to meet a distant business acquaintance—someone you’ve never met in person—at a large business convention. “How will I know you?” you might say.

“Well,” says your colleague, “I’ll be carrying a briefcase.”

“All right - but there will probably be a lot of people carrying briefcases. Not everyone, but a lot. What color is it?”

“Black.”

“That might narrow it down some,” you say, “but not enough.”

“I’m a redhead,” adds colleague.

“That helps, a Redhead carrying a black briefcase, but it still might not be enough. What will you be wearing?”

Your friend says, “A brown blazer. How’s that?”

“Okay,” you say, “But just to be sure, can you wear red sneakers?”

“Very funny,” your friend answers. “I’ll just make sure I have a name tag on my blazer with my name in big bold letters.”

“That should do it,” you answer. “I should be able to recognize you from a distance, and your name on the tag will seal it.”

Now imagine God, several millennia ago, devising the plan to send his only Son to earth to be born as a human infant. If we could have spoken down the corridors of time, we might have asked, “How can we be sure? How will we know him? How will we recognize him as the Eternal, Incarnate Son of God?”

God might have responded, “I will cause him to be born as a Jew, a descendant of Abraham” (Genesis 22:18, Galatians 3:16).

“But,” we might have protested, “Abraham’s descendants will be as numerous as the stars!”

“Then I will narrow it down to only half of Abraham’s lineage, and make him a descendant of Isaac, not Ishmael” (Genesis 21:12; Luke 3:23, 34).

“That will help – now it’s only half the stars!”

“Let him be born from Jacob’s line, then, eliminating half of Isaac’s lineage” (Numbers 24:17, Luke 3:23, 34).

“But—”

“Okay, I will be more specific. Jacob will have twelve sons; I will bring forth the Messiah from the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:10, Luke 3:23, 33), but even better, he’ll be from the family of Jesse (Isaiah 11:1, Luke 3:23, 32) and of David, Jesse’s youngest Son (Jeremiah 23:5, Luke 3:23, 31)”.

“Still, that could amount to quite a few people,” we might have objected.

And God could have answered, “Then I will tell you he will be born in Bethlehem, a tiny town in the area called Judah” (Micah 5:2, Matthew 2:1).

“Wouldn’t it just be easier to have someone announce his coming?”

“Okay, I’ll send a messenger, who will prepare the way and announce his coming” (Isaiah 40:3, Matthew 3:1, 2).

Well 2 weeks ago, we learned a bit about that messenger’s parents and how in a miraculous way, God spoke to a Godly man Zechariah through his angel Gabriel. He promised this man that he would have a son – John. Now this was exciting for old Zechariah, because as we learned several weeks ago, he and his wife were old. They’d been trying to have a baby for years and had given up all hope of it. Now their prayers were going to be answered. But there was more. This Baby wasn’t just for their enjoyment – he had a far greater purpose than that. Look at his name - John. This name comes from the Hebrew name “to show favour” or “to be gracious”. In this baby, God was being gracious, both to Zechariah and Elizabeth, but also to the rest of mankind. Because here was the messenger sent to signal the coming of the Messiah – he was to prepare the people for the Lord. God didn’t want anyone to miss out on this Saviour of the world and so he sent a messenger to warn us. How gracious is that! It is fitting that this baby’s name was therefore John.


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