Tag Archives: John the Baptist

The forerunner foretold

Luke 1:16-17  And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.”

Before there was Jesus, there was John the Baptist.  There had to be.  If Jesus had come into the world apart from the way being prepared for Him, the mission would have been compromised.  The people were not ready for the Messiah, they needed someone to prepare them.  John was that someone.

Long before John’s birth, there was a prophesy of the one who would come in the power of Elijah to prepare the hearts of the people to turn back to God (Malachi 4:6). John’s one role was to make the way for the Promised One, and then it was his time to decrease so that the Savior could increase (John 3:30).  Because of the prophesies, John’s parents would have understood what the angel’s revelation to them meant.  Their son would be the last prophet before the coming of the Christ.

In God’s sovereignty it just so happens that John and Jesus were relatives.  The man who would declare Jesus the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29) was His own kin.  The baptizer who would watch as the Father and the Holy Spirit gave testimony about Jesus (Matthew 3:16,17)  had affection for Him as family.  Before Jesus could come, John had to come and get things ready for Him.

Expecting the Messiah

Malachi 4:5-6  “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.”

The story of Jesus does not begin with His birth in Bethlehem.  The entire Old Testament is the story of a people who were to be the heritage from which the Messiah descended.  Their customs, the events of their lives, everything was all part of the greater story of Jesus.  He didn’t just appear out of nowhere, the way was prepared for Him.

Hundreds of years before that night in Bethlehem under the star, God was already making it known through His prophet Malachi that He would send Elijah to prepare the people for their Messiah.  They were not only expecting the Promised Messiah, but also His forerunner, who it so turns out was John the Baptist.

Before we can really understand the significance of the Christmas story, the ministry of Jesus, the death, burial, and resurrection – we have to understand that Jesus came from a real history of real people with real stories.  His birth was foretold and expected, but it was also part of a larger narrative.  To understand Jesus we must understand His people.  Christmas is the climax of a promise given by God to His people, a promise to send someone to save them.  He sent Himself.