67 And his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying,
68 “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
for he has visited and redeemed his people
69 and has raised up a horn of salvation for us
in the house of his servant David,
70 as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
71 that we should be saved from our enemies
and from the hand of all who hate us;
72 to show the mercy promised to our fathers
and to remember his holy covenant,
73 the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us
74 that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies,
might serve him without fear,
75 in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
76 And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
77 to give knowledge of salvation to his people
in the forgiveness of their sins,
78 because of the tender mercy of our God,
whereby the sunrise shall visit us[since the sunrise has visited us] from on high
79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
80 And the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day of his public appearance to Israel.
How in the world did John the Baptist end up a prophet when God announced it to his parents and his parents believed it and John Did do what God said. Perhaps it was because he never played video games, went to public High School or watched television. Naaaahhhhh. It is because John had a genuine calling from the LORD. We all know what happens to preachers kids - either it is the High Way or the By Way. I guess today we'd better say Frontage Road. Oh, these times.
John was a preacher's kid. And his dad was fairly arrogant. Or maybe stunned and stupid. I am constantly amazed Zechariah Knew it was an Angel, stood in the Temple, and instead of grabbing on to the horns of the altar for Mercy - he decided to debate the Angel Gabriel about the feasibility of God's plan. It says a lot for God that Zechariah lived to Rejoice! In John's birth. I have to say all that forgiveness makes my heart do a funny flop.
Let's talk more about the freedom in God Almighty. There is a message in it Today. For Us..... on Parenting. And Salvation.
People ask me what do I say to my college age sons about today's freedom in sexuality. I say rather quickly and with some embarrassment, "Well, I tell them to wait for marriage." What always comes after that is to the effect of.... "right, right, right, but what do you really tell them." And the truth is I tell them to never make love with someone they wouldn't want to have a child with. The marriage needs to last longer than the child. The conversation continues to the Youth Ministry work we did for years and I tell them - there are 28 venereal diseases and 3 will kill you. Chlamydia is virtually undetectable and a young man can give it to his wife and they will probably not know until it is time to have a family - when infertility is permanent. It is a crisis among some of the 30 somethings in the state of Texas. Raider Rash at one college is reported to be 2/3's of the female population. New York City has so much venereal disease Texans joke you probably shouldn't shake hands while visiting. Just wave and say it is a Southern thing. So, of course, that is part of my speech. And we talk about porn - the allure of fantasy that takes away the cisterns of beauty from middle aged and old age intimacy. (There is a Bible verse for that, but you get the idea!)
But my heart wants to tell my sons. No, honey, please wait. I know the story of our Worship Leader. He married the young woman who loved that teenage boy youth leader, when she was 13 years old. He moved to Texas and that smart young thing decided to do Youth Ministry, across the country, in Texas, at age 21 to see that hunka hunka do worship leading. And voila! A match was made. Her 8 years culminated to this romance - there was not a going-away-dress for that young bride. Why? Her husband told her he longed. Longed to remove her wedding dress as a symbol of their honeymoon and his love for her. They had waited. They would learn the gift of love together.
Oh, my. True Love.
Back to John the Baptist and more parenting for today. How did John the Baptist not walk down the Jimmy Swaggart path? Mr. Swaggart was raised in such a nourishing environment choice wasn't an option. I'm sure you know this from memory. Every golden Christian path was set before him. So, what about John the Baptist? John was allowed his own time. John understood receiving from His fullness, we have all received, Grace upon Grace.
January 03, 2011
This is he of whom I said, `After me comes a man who ranks before me, for he was before me.' I myself did not know him; but for this I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel."
How and why didn't John the Baptist know Jesus - his cousin? Why can't we be more surprised by the rest of the 1st Chapter of John. Men meeting Jesus for the first time declared to each other "this is the Son of God" in both verse 41 and verse 49 of John 1. This is far more astonishing - Jesus has men leaving their way of life behind to become His disciples in a mere afternoon of listening to Jesus.
So why, why doesn't John recognize his cousin Jesus? It's pretty obvious when we add up what we know. It seems we must look at this question. John's parents were old when he was born. As people become very aged, they do not travel greatly. Traveling was difficult even for the young. John's parents lived 90 miles from Jesus. John surely heard, in his youth, about Jesus and the "funny circumstances" surrounding the quick wedding of pregnant, un-wed cousin Mary. When we see the Gospels record only cousin Elizabeth's 5 months of support for Mary, we must also remember John the Baptist probably heard more of the rumors from more of the family - who are not remembered in the Scriptures.
So .... why didn't John recognize Jesus??? For the same reasons we didn't recognize Jesus until we invited Him to be part of us. Before we really knew Him: we heard about Jesus from other sources. Not all the sources were credible. Family (Church) is sometimes boring and the time it takes to get there and back is too long. Why put the effort into going when people aren't always nice? We missed the family get-togethers (Church) for so long, people hassle us about That too. If you don't remember the family stories correctly there is mocking. It's all a big tangle to sort out and we have other things to do.
Then, more importantly, it comes to the decision time. As John grew spiritually into God's plan for him, Jesus became important to him. John took the time to dwell and think about who Jesus is. God revealed not just family, a good man, but a Savior. John, bravely, and with certainty says, "And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God."
And for all of us who long for Salvation to be apparent in their families, their children, themselves (Daily Lord!) what is our comfort?
praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints
“This is rest; give rest to the weary; and this is repose”
Salvation belongs to the LORD; your blessing be on your people! Selah!!!!!
Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.”
Father God, blessed be your name. We pray for the ones we love to be chosen, called, loved, rest in the blessing of Your visitation and redemption. Raise up the trumpet of salvation! Save us from our enemies, especially the darkness in each of us as being part of mankind. In the name of Jesus Christ, please grant us this mercy. We rest in this hope without fear. Trusting in your Name, Jesus, for holiness and righteousness. Prepare the path of Salvation in Your Way. We ask for our loved ones to long for the knowledge of salvation. For the sweet after the storm forgiveness, the complete washing away of sin. Only because of Your Tender Mercy. Your Light shall shine in our hearts - where the darkness will not overcome it. Guide us, Father God, into the way of peace. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
And the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day of his public appearance to Israel.