PROPHET OF THE MOST HIGH
John The Baptist
Every gospel writer begins the story of Jesus in a different place. Luke does not start his account of the life of Jesus with his birth or the beginning of his public ministry. Luke begins his record with the events surrounding the birth of John the Baptist. This period in the history of Israel was not marked by repentance or religious zeal, and there had been no word from God through a prophet in four hundred years. The people still celebrated annual festivals and observed many religious traditions. But after 400 years of waiting, the culture became more and more secular. Luke presents Zechariah, a priest, and his wife Elizabeth who were righteous before God. Zechariah struggled to believe that he would have a son and had not been able to speak since Gabriel visited him in the temple. Imagine the frustration of not being able to articulate the things he had been told or his feelings about what God was doing in their lives.
Elizabeth gives birth to her son and all the relatives gather. When it was time to name the boy, the crowd thought he should be named after his father, Zechariah. Elizabeth interrupted and proclaimed that his name was to be John. The group was surprised and questioned the name since it was not a family name. Zechariah confirms the name in writing. Suddenly, Zechariah could speak again because he showed his submission to God's word. These events produced a sense of wonder, and the people wondered what the child would be for God was with him. Zechariah, filled with the Holy Spirit, prophesied before those present. Zechariah, by the Spirit, understands God is not only faithful, but he is visiting his people. God himself has come bringing salvation and hope. Zechariah declares that his son would be the prophet of the Most High and he would prepare the way. God's people would receive a knowledge of salvation for light was coming into the darkness. Luke then tells us that John grew and became strong in spirit, spending his days in the wilderness until his public appearance.
Things To Consider:
- What effect would being unable to speak for several months have on you?
- How difficult do you think it was for Zechariah to see his new son and not be able to talk to him?
- How do you think Elizabeth felt when the family sought to intervene and even tried to consult Zechariah?
- How do you typically respond to family conflict?
- How do you think Zechariah was different after his voice returned?
- Why did the Holy Spirit bring about Zechariah's prophecy?
- How does the prophecy point to Elijah?
- Do you think John the Baptist felt any pressure growing up? Why?
- How does God's light shine in the shadow of death?