Friday, December 11, 2009

The Christmas story part 5: Luke 1 - John the Baptist

Today we shift to Luke’s account of Jesus’ birth. The gospel of Mark picks up Jesus’ life around the beginning of his public ministry, so there is not much of a Christmas story there. We get a much more detailed account in the book of Luke, however, beginning with the birth of John the Baptist.

If the story of John the Baptist and his birth sounds familiar here it should. It is a very similar story to the birth of Isaac from Abraham and arah. John was a gift from God for Zechariah and Elizabeth. His birth was somewhat miraculous like Isaac’s in that Elizabeth had been barren. He also was to prepare the way for Jesus.

14He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, 15for 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 from birth. 16Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God. 17And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." – Luke 1:14-17

What an advantage to have to be born with the Holy Spirit already filling you. It is clear that God was not messing around with Jesus’ birth, nor was he messing around with His messenger. Most people have to wait until adulthood to come to the Lord and be filled with the Holy Spirit. Some don’t even get it then. With John, however, God wanted to give Him the tools from birth to prepare the way for Christ. Shoot, I am 30 and I am not sure what to do with my life. John knew before birth!

So how does this tie into the Christmas story? Well, John’s birth was also somewhat supernatural. His life was so entwined with Jesus’ earthly ministry that it is important we know his origins as well. Elizabeth was also a relative of Mary’s, so he was related to Christ. Like any great story, we must know the full backstory. That is why we have this story.

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