God had made a prophetic promise to Zechariah and Elizabeth. As a result of that promise Elizabeth had fallen pregnant, and now the child had been born. As the angel had said the child was a boy and, as instructed, they named him John.
It would still be some years before his short and extremely significant ministry began, but already the hand of the Lord was upon him. His father, recovering his speech again, now spoke a prophetic word over the baby.
“And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High;
for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him,
to give his people the knowledge of salvation
through the forgiveness of their sins,
because of the tender mercy of our God,
by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
to shine on those living in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the path of peace.”
Here now was the ‘prophet of the Most High’ and the one called to go before Him to prepare the way for Him. He would ‘give His people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins.’ The entry of the Christ into the world, in an act of God that would divide history into Before and After, was very close.
There is a sense in which all Christians take on the ministry of John. We too are sent out, with a Great Commission, to proclaim the saving love of God in Jesus Christ and to ‘give people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins.’ Like John we too are appointed to point out the Saviour to the people who walk in darkness,
“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)
The world generally no longer recognises anything as sin. And yet, there are countless numbers of people who battle with a terrible separation in their lives – between who they are and who they could be – without knowing what it is.
Although we await the second coming of the Lord there is a sense in which He is always coming – coming into our lives and the lives of those who will respond to Him. And as His people we are always taking Him with us wherever we will be today.
We have a gospel to proclaim – ask God to show you how to do it in your own way.
Lord Jesus, please help me to be true to Your Great Commission – and equip and empower me through the Holy Spirit within me. Let me think, speak and live to Your honour and glory. Amen.