The Forerunner of Christmas
The Wonder of the Birth of John the Baptist
Did you know that of all that is written about John the Baptist,
half is about his BIRTH?
Evidently, God thinks there is some pretty amazing stuff to learn
from John the Baptist’s birth!
It doesn’t outshine the Saviour’s birth, but it does get the fire
going so-to-speak. Let’s see how the Lord started everything off 6
months prior to Mary hearing that she would have a baby boy named Jesus
II. Message -
John’s Parents (1:5-7)
Jewish Parents - They were a Jewish family – of the tribe of
Godly parents – loved God in both heart and life!
His Father was Zacharias
Here he is an old man
Zacharias gave his life to serve God - to be busy doing
something for God (1:6,8-10) instead of only being caught in the
rat-race, and downward cycles - that's what God showed me to
draw me to preach!
4. His Mother was Elisabeth
5. And they were childless – not that they
didn’t want children, but that they couldn’t seem to have children.
What was natural and normal for some couples, wasn’t happening with
B. God’s Provision
God here is going to use their lack, their loneliness, their
need, to bless and meet another greater need in their nation
Every year, it was Zacharias’ job to lead prayer at the temple
for 15 days straight
He would burn incense in the Temple, while the people came and
went and held prayer meetings outside the Temple
Suddenly an angel appears right in front of him in the Temple
Instantly Zacharias freezes in fear! Any of us would!
I can’t believe how easily I startle people, no matter what
Think about being alone is a big huge Temple – you are
humming along, and working away, excited about the turn-out for
prayer meeting, and you look up and this BIG guy is standing
6. “Fear Not!” (Lk 1:13). Wonderful words
An angel told Mary to not fear God’s will for her life – to
bear the Son of God
An angel told Joseph to not fear to go ahead and take Mary
as his wife, even though she was pregnant by the Holy Ghost (Mat
The Shepherds were told not to fear such an overwhelming
sight of millions of angels rejoicing and singing about the
Saviour’s birth right before their eyes!
Jesus tells us to not fear people who can kill our bodies –
only fear God (Matt 10)
Jesus told his disciples to not fear leaving their fishing
nets, and to just follow Him in Luke 5
Jesus told the man whose daughter had just died to not fear,
simply because HE was there (Luke 8:50)
An angel tells the women at the tomb to not fear the empty
Paul was told not to fear, even though he and 250 other men
were caught in a two week long hurricane at sea (Act 27:24)
Such comforting words – you don’t have to run and hide –
Jesus is here!
7. It has been 400 years since a prophet
heard from God – since an angel had spoken from heaven! And here it
was happening right before john’s eyes!
8. And it’s all in answer to both
Zacharias’ and Elisabeth’s prayers for a son!
9. ILLUS: How long have YOU been praying
for something you so needed?
10. The angel tells Zacharias to name the
The Grace of the Lord, or, The Lord is Gracious
Probably one of the most common boys name since then:
Johann, Hannes, Sean, Jonathan, Johnny
But this boy will be anything but common – so many people
will be called by that name because of two Johns in the Bible:
John the Baptist, and the Apostle John, known as John the
C. John’s Purpose
(1:14-17) – Little John had a big job!
He shall be great – but not the greatest (Lk 7:28; 3:16)
He shall be a Nazarene
It means he is specially dedicated to God to accomplish a
great purpose – was keeping a vow, a promise to God - Sampson
was a Nazarene
It means he has to be very different that everyone else:
No wine or grapes even
No cutting of the hair – easily spotted that he was a
Until the vow was complete
c. Every married couple is keeping a
d. Every single person who is staying
clean and pure from sex before marriage is keeping a vow – and
are easily noticed by the world
3. He shall be filled with the Holy Ghost
from the womb (cd 1:39-41)
4. He would have the same spirit that
Elijah had back in 1 and 2 Kings (Elisha knew the awesomeness of
that spirit, and wanted DOUBLE the spirit that Elijah had) – and
here was John with that same spirit!
5. He shall turn Israel back to God
Like trying to turn around a huge ship that is headed for
destruction on the rocky shores ahead
But only a single guy doing it – in the power of the Spirit
His job was to plough and prepare the people’s hearts and
lives for the coming Messiah – so that Jesus could easily save
The promised Messiah was coming right after John!
6. What a purpose and plan God had for this
little boy! Not for his own pleasure, but for the great plan and
purpose of God!
7. You should trust that God has great
plans for you too – not the same, but always great!
D. Zacharias’ Problem
Zacharias was clearly afraid of what was going on (1:12,13). All
this talk about having children, and seeing angels was too much for
him. He had had a nice, consistent "faith" that he didn't want
anyone messing with!
Zacharias struggles to decide whether he will believe this is
possible or not (1:18). In all his years, he has never really had
answered prayer, and all of a sudden God says now it is happening.
But, can it? With everything that is against Zacharias (age,
He questions God without any faith - just figures it is
He rejects the promises of God as being for
someone else - someone who was more likely to actually
experience it "normally!"
This is what modern religious "christianity" is like (2Tim
3. Zacharias’ problem was unbelief –
that is our worst sin!
4. Faith is never easy. Nor does it just "flow"
naturally - there is always a struggle with doubt, and experience,
and the mind.
5. Real Faith just finally settles that if
God said it, that settles it!
6. Have you come to that place yet?
E. God’s Penalty
Do you know what is wonderful? God is at always work, and He is
going to accomplish His will, with our without our faith. He would
like to use you, but we must decide:
Whether we are going to trust Him, or hinder Him.
Whether we are going to look backwards, or forwards!
What will it be with YOU?
2. Zacharias is rewarded with silence
(1:19,20). He has to struggle to be noticed for the next 9 months -
can't make a sound!
For some men, that is the norm – not noticed anyway
But when your ability to speak is taken away, you will find
yourself very crippled – very humbled
3. Let’s see how bad this penalty was:
Zacharias has just seen and heard from an angel from heaven
He has been promised a son
That son will turn Israel back to God
The Messiah is following right after
And it all is going to be because of some half-hearted
prayers of an old man, and an old woman
AND HE IS NOT GOING TO BE ABLE TO TELL A SOUL ABOUT ANY OF
IT for 9 long months!
4. I know far too many Christians who are
suffering for their unbelief. I am no judge, but you know when you
last really trusted God, or when you last resisted trusting God. It
is the worst sin – ignoring God!
F. Elisabeth’s Prize
(1:24,25) – Somebody is going to get the blessing, and it is Elisabeth!
God give her conception – she joins the ranks of Sarah, and
Hannah – rare examples of God’s grace!
yet she is so shocked that she doesn’t tell anyone for 5 whole
months – can’t believe it herself! After 5 months, you can’t hide it
Zacharias also is surprised it happens just like God said it
He didn't go around announcing what God had promised him
Even after Elisabeth got pregnant, they didn't dare live
like God was "actually" going to fulfil His promise to them!
That would be just "too much"!
Notice later that when John is born in 1:57,58, it is only
THEN that all the neighbours hear about the baby - they
really are surprised!
4. You know, I really think there will be a
lot of surprised people in heaven!
People should live in suspense, looking forward to the
fulfilment of God's promises,
Yet they live in confusion, and anxiety! It should come as
no surprise to Christians when God answers prayer, or calls them
to serve Him
Christians should be delighted to trust God for the
I hate negativity – I hate backward looking – I hate
I love the promises of God (2Cor 1:20) – they are only
G. John’s Place in History
NOW Zacharias praises God – had learned his lesson! So sad we
wait till the last minute to trust and praise God!
John took his place as the herald, the forerunner of the Messiah
Jesus is the fulfilment of so much of the Old Testament
Jesus would save not only Israel, but all people from the
punishment of their sins
3. According to Luke 1:80, John spent about
30 years preparing for only 10 months of work, before he died in
4. But during those 10 months…
He turned Israel upside-down and inside out
He brought families back together – especially the fathers
to their children
He made all the people thirsty for God again
He made it easy for Jesus to save us
All without miracles, or the writing of some Scriptures –
only preaching repentance towards the holiness of God, and faith
towards the Lamb of God!
Isn’t it amazing how little Zacharias could see of God’s plan
Yet shouldn’t we expect great things from our God?
John’s Parents were just like us – not super-heros, but
following a super God
God’s Provision is always more than we need – it is for more
than just us
John’s Purpose shows us a bit of what each of our purpose is –
to prepare people for the Lord!
Zacharias’ Problem is most people’s problem – unbelief (about
the promises of God, the coming wrath of God, heaven, hell)!
God’s Penalty for unbelief was silence – with each of us it may
be something else. I would rather have the PLEASURE of belief, instead
of any troubles because of my stinking unbelief! Amen!
Elisabeth’s Prize was a baby – just as promised. What has God
John’s Place in History – the be the forerunner of the first
coming of the Messiah. We need to live like the forerunners of His
Have you heard John the Baptist’s message?
We are all a mess – sinners before an all holy God
We can’t save ourselves – we need a Saviour
Only Jesus saves
He waits to save YOU today!
But you must go to Him in surrendered prayer AS lost, and IN
trouble, and ASK to be forgiven, and saved from your sins!
He promises to come in, and save you and change you!
Bible Baptist Church, Ballincollig, Cork, Ireland