Summary: John the Baptist often gets overlooked in Christmas sermons. John introduces the ministry of Jesus. Christians are to continue the ministry of Jesus.
“JOHN – The Forgotten Cousin At Christmas”
INTRODUCTION: Christmas sermons always deal with the birth of Jesus … as well they should. HOWEVER, His cousin John gets left out a lot, when it comes to Christmas sermons. John is only 6 months older than Jesus.
What did John and Jesus have in common: (ASK)
o Both births were announced to their parents by the angel Gabriel.
o Both parents were told the sex of their child before their birth.
o Both were given their names before their birth.
o Both mothers were humanly, physically unable to have a child.
o Both had their ministries foretold (Lk. 1:17, 1:32-33).
o Both fathers had doubts about the angel’s message.
John the Baptist is the fore-runner of Jesus. i.e., his ministry came BEFORE Jesus – see Luke 1:17. John was to prepare the people for the preaching ministry of Jesus.
Was John the Baptist the founder of the Baptist Denomination? (ASK)
John the Baptist wasn’t even a CHRISTIAN … he was an Old Testament Prophet. He died before the death, burial & resurrection of Jesus … before the day of Pentecost.
I don’t think they even called him “John the Baptist”. I think he was called “John the baptizer”.
John’s father was a priest … Zacharias. His mother was Elisabeth, the cousin of Mary (the mother of Jesus). That made Jesus & John 2nd cousins.
Zacharias & Elisabeth were old when they found out she was expecting a baby. There were no human possibilities that she would ever become pregnant. BUT … God intervened … BECAUSE … He had special plans for their baby, John the Baptizer.
1 DAY … Zacharias was in the Temple, burning incense. Both Zacharias & Elisabeth were Godly, sincere worshippers of God – 1:6.
All of a sudden – 1:11-12
In Bible times, this was the usual reaction to seeing an angel. Modern TV programs depict a different reaction … “Touched By An Angel”, “Joan of Arcadia”, etc. See 1:28-30a, 2:8-9.
In O.T. Bible times, they thought that the appearance of an angel was to signify their death … bad news … judgment.
Angels can preach a whole lot better than I can. They know more … stronger … not limited. WHY THEN, has God chosen US … instead of angels? (ASK) Others can IDENTIFY with us better than with angels. Angels scared people! They were terrified of them!
1:13 – What do you think Zacharias was praying for? (ASK)
o It was the duty of the Priest to burn incense & pray for the coming of the Messiah, to deliver His people from the bondage of Rome.
o He may have been praying for a son.
It was SHAMEFUL to be without children. People thought it was God’s judgment on them because of some hidden sin … God’s displeasure on their life.
It was HUMANLY impossible to have children … YET … they prayed anyhow. NOTICE what the angel told Mary about this 6 months later – 1:36-37.
How many times do we “give up” in our praying because it seems “impossible”? They never gave up … WHY? Because they were always open to God’s will in their life.
God already had a name picked out – 1:13. How many of you LIKE the name your parents gave you? Tough! You didn’t have a choice. Many people change their names after they get grown … Raymond/Ray … Ronald/Ron … Douglas/Doug … Charles/Chuck … ACTUALLY, I was supposed to be “Joyce”
God said: “Thou shalt call his name JOHN!” PERIOD! If Zacharias, Elisabeth or John didn’t like it … tough!
1:14-15 – We often worry about our children … their spiritual condition … lost … wayward … backslidden … which road in life they will take. Some parents may wish their children had never been born … Mr. & Mrs. Hitler … Mr. & Mrs. Judas … The angel took their worry away.
What did the angel PREDICT about John? (ASK)
o Be a blessing to many – 1:14 – NOT a disappointment, or a shame.
o Be saved – 1:15 – “great in the sight of the Lord” – ELECTION!
o Be used by God – 1:15
o Be filled with the Holy Spirit … NOT the “spirits” – 1:15
o Be a witness for God – 1:16 – NOT turn people away by his life.
o Be a powerful preacher – 1:17 – His vocation was chosen.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we ALL got an outline of our children’s life, BEFORE they were born? It sure would take away a lot of anxiety, wouldn’t it? We always wonder what our children will be like when they are grown … if they will ever amount to anything! Zacharias & Elisabeth knew what their unborn son would be when he grew up.