Day 16

The Birth of John the Baptist Foretold

from the Advent 2017: Joy to the World reading plan

Luke 1:5-17, Isaiah 40:1-5, Malachi 3:1-4, Mark 1:1-8

In the ancient kingdoms of the world it was common for a ruler to arrive in a city with shouts of proclamation, celebratory music, and much fanfare. Everyday activities would cease. As the destination city prepared, the people would line the streets. They would put their best foot forward. Their king was coming!

From our perspective, isn’t it somewhat odd that the preparations for the true and rightful King of the universe played out much differently? It was an obscure voice in the wilderness that announced Christ’s coming. John the Baptist, clothed not in the finest of linens but in camel’s hair, was the one sent to prepare the way before Christ the King.

Even from the moment of his birth announcement, John’s entire life was purposed with pointing to someone else.

Can you imagine receiving Zechariah and Elizabeth’s newborn announcement in the mail? “We have given birth to a son! However, Mary’s son is coming. And our little John is not even worthy of stooping down and untying His sandals!”

John’s entire existence was bound up in his calling to “make ready for the Lord a people prepared” (Luke 1:17). Sent to wayward Israel, John was a prophet proclaiming to all, “The messenger of the covenant you delight in—see, he is coming!” (Malachi 3:1).

Unlike announcements preceding the arrival of earthly kings—namely, a city putting her best foot forward—the King of kings was preceded by an obscure wilderness dweller, who was calling people to lay bare all of their brokenness and neediness in the act of baptism.

Jesus was not paraded through crowded city streets with celebratory music. He was proclaimed from the wilderness, where John the Baptist called all to “Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand” (Matthew 3:2). Jesus did not arrive to make empires kneel in the face of His military wrath; He came to invite sinners to kneel in light of His loving grace, by the power of His Holy Spirit.

John was the servant of a greater King. We, too, are called to point beyond ourselves to the hope that is in Jesus Christ. It is only in Christ that anyone can endure the day of His second coming. Who can stand when He appears? Only those covered in His blood and dressed in His righteousness. This is the entire purpose of our Christian life: to turn our hearts in repentance and prepare the way for the King.

Written by Matt Capps

Post Comments (9)

9 thoughts on "The Birth of John the Baptist Foretold"

  1. Andrew says:

    I need to point others to Jesus!

  2. Woody Walls says:

    Oh Lord that my life may be one that points people to the hope and joy that is found in Christ alone. Humble me Lord, give me a boldness to share You with others and help me to simply allow the Holy Spirit to work in their hearts.

  3. Stephen Perry says:

    “Jesus did not arrive to make empires kneel in the face of His military wrath; He came to invite sinners to kneel in light of His loving grace, by the power of His Holy Spirit.”

    I love this statement-so true and so rich with truth today. I can’t help but read this story of John the Baptist preparing the way and thinking, ‘what would happen if I saw my sole purpose on this earth being to point people to Jesus-period?’ Nothing else…that’s all. That’s exactly what John the Baptist lived out for the majority of his life…what a powerful testimony.

    Prayer: Lord, help me to rest in the grace and peace offered through Christ today and help me point others to the same. Thank you Lord!

  4. Jeff M. says:

    6 years ago today, I began a journey. It actually sounds wrong to say “I began”, but better to say that God began a journey in me. After a church service, I felt this strange sense that I needed to go buy a bible from the church bookstore. I asked my dad if he would gift me one, and though he had bought me 6-7 Bibles over the years growing up, he gladly bought me one.

    Then it sat in my room for about 2 weeks until I took it with me back to Belmont for 2nd semester of my freshman year. The first weekend back, on a Saturday morning, I went to the campus bookstore and bought a little notebook and a devotional book because I was determined to journal my thoughts while reading the Bible. I had heard/seen other Christians do it and thought “This must be what Christians do 😂”
    So I sat down back in my dorm room and opened the terrifyingly large book, and I had no clue where to begin. Praise God for the little devotional book that had a few scripture passages after each of the days thoughts.

    I read “Ephesians 2:8-9” and started looking for the book of Ephesians in my bible. I had gone to church for 19 years but I didn’t even know Ephesians WAS a book. I opened up to chapter 2 and read, “8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

    All at once it was as if God lifted off of my eyes blinders that I had been wearing my whole life. I thought “What? What do you mean by grace and not my own doing that I’m saved?” I was equal parts offended and relieved. Offended because this meant that all of my efforts to be the “good kid”, all my attempts to be considered a “good person” or “good Christian guy” in the eyes of others (and myself) were for naught. My own efforts did NOTHING to save me. I was relieved by the same coin, though. The war that waged within me, that wages within all of us, is this innate feeling that we’re not good enough – that we can’t do enough, that we can’t measure up. So then we tend to live in 2 camps – an inflated sense of self, or a deflated self conscious sense of self. I typically fluctuated between the two depending upon how I thought I was performing in life, and how others perceived that I was doing.

    At this point in my life, January 2012, I was at a deeply low point. I had just come off the hardest semester of school in my life. I showed up to Nashville with a puffed up ego, ready to prove myself and become famous. I was so desperately needy for the affirmation of others, and when I realized (as all of us do) that there were others better, smarter, better looking, more established, it just popped my inflated chest like a balloon. My inflated ego and sense of self was in the hands of others, not to mention in the hands of my own insecurities, and the hands made a fist and crushed me.

    At the lowest point of worth and value, this Bible is saying it’s by “grace” that I’m saved, and not by works. I was so confused, but God, opened my eyes up to the mystery. The weight of guilt, shame, and insecurity began to wash away little by little as He opened my eyes more and more to this grace and love that He has for us. What is grace? It is getting what you do not deserve. It is love based on no merit. I had always lived, like MANY folks who claim to be Christians for years like I had, as if God was up in the sky wanting me to follow rules and He was disgusted with me when I didn’t follow them. Like He was mad at me for my inability to be perfect. I saw a docudrama recently called “The Heart of Man” and in it, one author who is being interviewed says this, “I always felt that God was mildly disgusted with me.” That was what had marked my life up to that point. I know exactly how he felt.

    So, if God’s Love for me wasn’t on the basis of what I did, not on the basis of how well I could perform in life, then what in the world is it based on? Because in our American, or maybe just 2017, thinking, everything is earned. We want to achieve it. And this love of God couldn’t just be freely given, right?

    This began a journey of diving into the Bible each morning there in my dorm room or coffee shop, as God unfolded this beautiful story of His Son, Jesus. I always “knew” Jesus died on a cross (it’s what we celebrated at Easter for 18 years of my life) but I had no actual idea of what it meant. Who He was. What was “sin”? Why did He have to die?

    There’s no way for me to sum up 6 years in a single space, but all I can say to sum it up is this: God met me in Nashville. He came to me, opened my eyes to His love and grace, and He has changed my life forever. Not so that I could just get better, work harder, be a better person. That’s not Christianity – and if that’s weird to you, please message me! I’d love to chat any time about this Grace!

    I began to fall in love with Jesus that winter, and have fallen more and more in love with Him each day since. In pain, hardship, joy, and delight. God still meets me in every moment, singing love over me. And I no longer have to rest my self worth in the opinions of others or, and perhaps more deadly, what I think of myself. I’m a broken, far from perfect, innately sinful man with a perfect, Gracious, loving God who gives forgiveness and love and grace to all.

    If you’re offended by this, know I’m not surprised. The Gospel is offensive, but equally relieving and refreshing to the soul. As theologian Tim Keller said, “If you’ve never been offended by (the Gospel), I’m not sure you get it.”

    But this Gospel, this “good news” of Jesus has forever changed my life, and freed me from the bondage of sin, shame, and my own need to work hard for the approval of God, other’s, and myself. It’s given me freedom and life that I never thought was possible. I always thought Jesus died on a cross so I would feel bad that I made him, and so I could work harder to be better in life. In John 10, Jesus says, “I came that they may have life; and life to the fullest.” Jesus made a way for us to have a perfect, loving, joy-filled relationship with God – and today I am celebrating His great grace in my life!!

  5. Adam says:

    “Jesus did not arrive to make empires kneel in the face of His military wrath; He came to invite sinners to kneel in light of His loving grace, by the power of His Holy Spirit.”

    Man, this quote hits hard. Jesus didn’t come down to destroy the world and rebuild it; He came to free us from a life filled with sin and destruction through loving us and giving His own life for us.

  6. Trevor Gartner says:

    How often do I get wrapped up in my own agenda. Passage brings me back and remind me that my agenda is meaningless unless the Lord gives it meaning, and my whole purpose is to glorify God to repent and to make ready His way. Soli Deo gloria

  7. Matt Baker says:

    Our pastor talked about this a few weeks ago and I had never thought about Advent as a preparing of our hearts like this before I heard him speak. I am trying to lead my family by example of this now, not only in the Advent season, but always preparing my heart for Christ’s return.

  8. Pastor JB says:

    The goal of every Christ follower, every real man, is to worship Jesus and point others to His glory! Both with words and with a life modeled after Christ. How often we fall short of this goal. How often we miss the mark. Jesus called John the greatest man who has ever lived. John earned that title because he gave up everything and focused solely on his purpose; his TRUE purpose. While we are not all called to pastoral roles, or full time missionaries, we are all called to point others to the Son of God who “takes away the sins of the world.” Our occupation matters not. Our financial situation matters not. Our social status matters not. All that matters is that, wherever we are, and whatever we are doing, we are pointing others clearly to Christ. We live the gospel and we proclaim the gospel. Nothing else truly matters. So if you are a Pastor, proclaim the gospel with all your might. If you’re a lawyer, proclaim the gospel with all your might. If you’re a teacher, a police officer, a janitor, a soldier, a pilot, a politician, a plummer, a mechanic, proclaim the gospel with all your might! It’s all about Jesus!

  9. Nick Crawford says:

    God, help me in all my ways to point Your people to you. Help me live a life that turns to you in repentance always and prepares the way for you, Jesus. Help to make my mission to “make ready for the Lord a people prepared”. Thank you Jesus that we can stand in the day of your coming because of your sacrifice, grace and love for us.

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