DEVOTIONAL: The mission of John the Baptist
By Rev. Adrian Allen, Pastor
Lamar First Baptist Church
We have recently celebrated the Resurrection of The Christ and I would like to shift our focus to a character within the Bible who is very familiar with The Christ. We know him commonly as John the Baptist, but more importantly, he should be remembered for being the Herald of the CHRIST. John had an important task and purpose of being the one who prepares the coming of the LORD. He is an important character in the coming of the Messiah. In our devotion today I would like to use this time to introduce you to the setting and his background. John is called John the Baptist because he was baptizing people as a pronouncement that their sins are worthy of death. John was not the founder of the first Southern Baptist Church but he did practice the same form of Baptism by immersion. He had a very celebrated beginning with the political environment, his parents and his father’s role as a priest. Let’s look at the political environment of Israel at the time of his birth. Herod was the politically appointed King of Israel; he was not the heir to the throne because he was actually an Edomite and not an Israelite. Herod was an “unsavory character” to say the least and was known for brutality and bloodshed. So the political environment was very dark at the time of the birth of the herald. In the darkest hours we should look for GOD to demonstrate HIS power. John the Baptist would be born into a godly family; his father Zachariah was a priest and his mother Elisabeth was a priest’s daughter. The two had endured the hardship of being advanced in years and never being blessed with having a child. Zachariah was one of a rare breed of priests during the reign of Herod that weren’t influenced by the King. There were over 22,000 priests just in Jerusalem at the time and the overwhelming percentage cared more about Herod’s influence than they did about their service to GOD. In Luke 1:8-22, we find the story of the announcement of John’s birth and the miracle around his birth. The Angel Gabriel appears to Zachariah while he is performing his priestly duties in the Holy Place. Gabriel appears to Zachariah and tells him that Elisabeth would give birth to a son and his name would be John. Zachariah is told that John shall be great in the sight of the LORD. The last thing Gabriel would tell Zachariah is John’s purpose, to make ready a people prepared for the LORD. (v. 17). Zachariah hesitates, as most of us would do today, and says, I’m old and my wife is old. Because of his hesitation, Zachariah is rendered mute for the entire pregnancy. Let us know that our only action when GOD tells us something is obedience. In Luke 1:57-80 we find the birth of John. Although it was against family tradition and was completely against the Jewish laws, this son would not be named after his father. His name was given by GOD. Regardless of the opinions of the friends and family, this child was special with an express purpose. Zachariah grabs a writing tablet, because he is still unable to speak, and writes, His name is John! Luke 1:76 tells us who this young boy would be — the Prophet of the Most High. Not many people remember that John was the last of the Old Testament Prophets with the important responsibility of being The Herald of The Christ.