The Forerunner of the Savior

Luke 1:8-20

God had promised His people that He would send the Anointed One to renew and restore them. The problem was, hundreds of years had passed. God just hadn't said much of anything about the matter since. In fact, God had gone silent, not speaking at all through any prophet.

Then He shattered the silence with the compelling voice crying in the wilderness.

Some four hundred years after God had silenced His last prophet (soon after AD 25), word started filtering out of the desert regions of Judea east of Jerusalem. An unpolished man preached a powerful message. He talked about the kingdom of heaven approaching. The baptizer called people to repentance that led to a life of godliness. And he spoke of One coming after him who was greater than he was. Crowds ventured out into the wilderness to listen.

God had finally sent the forerunner, bearing witness of the Light! John the Baptist came to tell people the Light was coming: "There cometh one mightier than I after me..." (Mark 1:7). God's intent was that all would believe through him. God used John's life and message as tools in helping people develop faith in the coming Light.

Though John wasn't the Light, he brought the introductory message of that Light. He also confirmed the truth declared infrequently in the Old Testament: This Light was for all humanity, not just for the Jews. The true Light offers light to everyone who is born!

People discussed their hopeful speculations about his true identity. Finally the religious leaders in Jerusalem sent an investigative delegation. They found the messenger baptizing at Bethabara on the far bank of the Jordan River. "Are you the Christ?"

No, he was from the wrong tribe for that. John the Baptist was a Levite, a descendant of Aaron. Seemingly he was in line to be a priest as his father had been. He was a relative of Jesus, apparently a second cousin, and about six months older. He was "the prophet of the Highest" (Luke 1:76), sent to prepare the Lord's ways, giving light and saving knowledge to God's people (Luke 1:77, 79).

When pressed to identify himself, John declared himself the voice prophesied in Isaiah 40:1-3. He could have claimed to be preparing the way for the Messiah, but he didn't. When they inquired about his baptism, he didn't answer their question but shifted the focus to Jesus (though he didn't identify Him directly yet). John the Baptist told them that this Man was vastly greater than he was.

The very next day John the Baptist clearly identified Jesus and His mission. Jesus is the Lamb of God, taking away sin. He is also the Son of God. With those revelations from your teacher, what would you do as a disciple of John?

Additional Reading

[Prepare ye the way of the Lord (Luke 3:4)]

© Copyright 2016, Roth
The Scripture text is what the international standard Sunday School lesson uses for December 18, 2016.

Posted on 12-17-16 before 8:00 am Pacific

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