Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Nativity of John the Baptizer: A Devotional Commentary

Isaiah 40:1-5 “Comfort, comfort my people,” says your God. “Speak comfortably to Jerusalem; and call out to her that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received of Yahweh’s hand double for all her sins.” The voice of one who calls out, “Prepare the way of Yahweh in the wilderness! Make a level highway in the desert for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low. The uneven shall be made level, and the rough places a plain. The glory of Yahweh shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together; for the mouth of Yahweh has spoken it.”

Acts 19:1-7 It happened that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul, having passed through the upper country, came to Ephesus, and found certain disciples. He said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” They said to him, “No, we haven’t even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” He said, “Into what then were you baptized?” They said, “Into John’s baptism.” Paul said, “John indeed baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe in the one who would come after him, that is, in Jesus.” When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke with other languages and prophesied. They were about twelve men in all.

Luke 1:57-80 Now the time that Elizabeth should give birth was fulfilled, and she brought forth a son. Her neighbors and her relatives heard that the Lord had magnified his mercy towards her, and they rejoiced with her. It happened on the eighth day, that they came to circumcise the child; and they would have called him Zacharias, after the name of the father. His mother answered, “Not so; but he will be called John.” They said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who is called by this name.” They made signs to his father, what he would have him called. He asked for a writing tablet, and wrote, “His name is John.” They all marveled. His mouth was opened immediately, and his tongue freed, and he spoke, blessing God. Fear came on all who lived around them, and all these sayings were talked about throughout all the hill country of Judea. All who heard them laid them up in their heart, saying, “What then will this child be?” The hand of the Lord was with him. His father, Zacharias, was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying, “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, for he has visited and worked redemption for his people; and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David (as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets who have been from of old), salvation from our enemies, and from the hand of all who hate us; to show mercy towards our fathers, to remember his holy covenant, the oath which he spoke to Abraham, our father, to grant to us that we, being delivered out of the hand of our enemies, should serve him without fear, In holiness and righteousness before him all the days of our life. And you, child, will be called a prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people by the remission of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the dawn from on high will visit us, to shine on those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death; to guide our feet into the way of peace.” The child was growing, and becoming strong in spirit, and was in the desert until the day of his public appearance to Israel.

Zacharias was struck dumb by God until the birth of John the Baptizer. Zacharias was part of the Old Testament priesthood and the voice of prophecy had ceased for some time until Jesus came to fulfill all the prophecies. Not only did the prophetic voice cease but there was no understanding of the prophetic voice of the Old Testament. Over time the church began to believe that the Old Testament Scriptures were a list of rules and regulations that they were capable of fuflilling j John the Baptizer stands between the two testaments and was sent by God to prepare the way of the Lord. He did not come bringing his own words and ideas and calling people to follow him. He came preaching Christ. John the Baptizer began to preach Christ while in his mother's womb. John the Baptizer leaped in his mother's womb when he heard Mary's announcement. When John the Baptizer came out of the womb, he opened the mouth of his father, who represented the Old Testament. By revealing Christ, John the Baptizer revealed the fulfillment of all the Old Testament prophecies. By revealing Christ, he opened the mouth of the Old Testament.

John proclaims Christ to those who sat in darkness and in the shadow of death. He told them that Jesus us saves us from our enemies--from sin, death and the devil. John the Baptizer points us to the way of peace--Jesus.

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