Zechariah’s wife, Elizabeth, had just given birth to their son eight days prior to this, but this was the day of their son’s circumcision, which was also the day he was to be named. Thus, Zechariah, as instructed by God, named the baby boy John.
Then, Zechariah, filled with the Holy Spirit, prophesied first about Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of Israel, who had not yet been born, and then he also prophesied about his son, John, who later became John the Baptist.
Luke 1:76-80 NIV
“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.”
“And the child grew and became strong in spirit; and he lived in the wilderness until he appeared publicly to Israel.”
The Voice of One
John’s assignment from the Lord was to go before the Lord Jesus to prepare the way for him in the hearts of the people. John the Baptist was “the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.'” (Jn 1:23). And that he did, indeed.
For, John’s message was primarily one of repentance. For, we can’t come to faith in Jesus Christ unless we repent – unless we turn from our sins to follow Jesus Christ in obedience to his will for our lives (Eph 4:17-24; Lu 9:23-26; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; 1 Jn 1:5-9).
John testified that Jesus was “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” He said that Jesus, although he would come after John, was before John, which indicated that Jesus was God, the Christ. He also declared Jesus to be the one who would baptize with the Holy Spirit.
Knowledge of Salvation
John was called of God to give the people of God of that time the knowledge of salvation. And that began with him preparing their hearts for Jesus by proclaiming Jesus to be the Christ, the Son of God (and God), the one who was to come to be their Messiah, their Savior, their Redeemer.
And then it was to call the people to repentance, which, again, is turning away from our sinful lifestyles to now follow Jesus Christ with our lives, in obedience to his commands, in submission to his perfect will for our lives.
And he was to make that way straight or he was to call the people to make the way straight for the Lord, or both. For he did make the way straight and he did call the people to make the way straight, too. For, he called them to repent of their sins.
And what is this straight way? It is moral, upright, godly, pure, honest, holy, righteous, obedient, and submissive to Jesus as Lord (owner-master) of our lives. But it isn’t about us living “good” lives so that we can be acceptable to God. We can’t! We can’t be good enough in our human flesh.
But if we want to follow Jesus Christ with our lives, it is a straight path, a righteous and holy way God has prepared for us to travel. And if we are going to follow Jesus with our lives, we must die with him to sin so that we can be resurrected with him to newness of life in Christ.
For, Jesus died on that cross so that we might be crucified with him in death to sin and live to him and to his righteousness. He died to deliver us from our slavery (bondage, addiction) to sin and to free us to now become slaves (bondservants) of his righteousness (1 Pet 2:24; Rom 6:1-23).
When we die with Christ to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ to newness of life in him, no longer enslaved to sin, but set free by God’s grace, we are forgiven our sin and we are given the hope of eternal life with God for those who continue in him and who walk according to his ways.
For our God is loving, he is gracious, and he is forgiving to all who call on him in truth, who repent of their sins and who follow him wherever he leads them. This is the way of peace, for it is the way of peace with God. Now we are no longer his enemies, for he has reconciled us to himself.
And he leads us in the way that we should go, which is the way of holiness and righteousness. And there is no better way to go than to follow Jesus and to do what he has called us to do for his praise and for his glory. Amen!
Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer
Lyrics by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1897
Music by W. J. Kirkpatrick, 1897
Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.
Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.
O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.
O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.
Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.
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