• John Lenschow

John, the Forerunner to the Messiah

Preparation for his Birth

Day 8 Sunday, December 6th

Luke 1:14-17

1. Recognize the Context:

Previous context:

Luke anchored this story of John the Baptizer in history. It occurred during the time of King Herod (37-4 B.C.), a “king” subject to the imperial power of Rome. At this time in Judah’s history, there were numerous priests. Therefore, they were forced to rotate their priestly responsibilities. Zechariah was fulfilling a rare opportunity to burn incense in the Temple. It was at this time, an angel of the Lord appeared and announced the coming of a child. Although formerly unable to have children, Zechariah and his wife would have a son. His name would be John, and he would bring his parents great joy. He would also play a significant role in God’s plan of salvation.

2. Read the Scripture: Luke 1:14-17

14 He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, 15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. 16 He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

3. Reflect on the Scripture:

This passage provides significant details about the future life and ministry of John the Baptizer.

1. Many would rejoice at John’s birth because he would announce salvation. Joy and salvation are complimentary themes found in the prophets, such as Isaiah (Isa. 12:6, 25:9, 29:19, 49:13).

2. He would be great before the Lord. This is not a reference to his personal status but his mission (Luke 7:28).

3. His abstinence from alcohol suggested a unique role in service to God (Lev. 10:9, Num. 6:3, Judges 13:7).

4. John would be filled with the Holy Spirit even before his birth (Luke 1:39-45). The Holy Spirit’s work is a significant theme throughout the book of Luke.

5. John would fulfill the prophecy of Malachi (4:5). He would reflect the prophet Elijah by drawing people to God and to one another. First Kings 18:16-46 presents the story of Elijah's encounter with the prophets of Baal. The people turned to God in a dramatic fashion.

6. He would serve as a forerunner to the Messiah preparing the way for his coming (Malachi 3:1).

4. Relate to life:

Remember, it is important to be a doer of God’s Word, not merely a hearer or reader (James 1:22-25). Here are some practical ways to actively respond to God’s Word. Consider these or create other ways you can apply the message.

To pray:

Today as you prayerfully read about the mission of John in the overall plan of salvation, consider what this reveals about the character and nature of God.

Although John served a specific role for God in the history of salvation, the spirit of his ministry is timeless. He drew people to God and to one another. He pointed people to the Messiah. Today, prayerfully consider how your life draws people to God and points them to Jesus.

To do:

From your prayerful consideration of John the Baptizer's life and ministry, what is one action step you can take today with the Holy Spirit’s help?

Identify one person in your life who needs to be directed to Jesus. Are there specific ways you can do this? Consider writing them down and scheduling them, like you would other activities in the day.

To study: (Always make sure to read the immediate context of the given passage.)

Today, read and study the Scriptures identified above.

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