Google+ 12/11/12 Cue the Announcer!

Luke 1:13-15

 

But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer is heard;

And your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. 

And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. 

For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink.

He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.  

 

We talk about the miracle birth that was Jesus, a great deal, as we should.  Having God's son come to earth as a baby through Immaculate Conception, is an incredible event to celebrate in any Christians life.  We don't talk often about the miracle of John the Baptist.  Zechariah was both a priest and a prophet.  He was probably born in Babylon during the 70-year Babylonian captivity.  Zechariah probably began his ministry sometime between 520 and 508 B.C.  In his Old Testament prophecy, he encouraged the people to rebuild the temple and see the task completed.  His secondary ministerial purpose was to also announce God's prophetic promise to the Gentiles and lay out the events leading up to the blessings of Israel in the millennial age.  Zechariah was married to Elisabeth who was related in some way to Mary, the mother of Jesus.  Many people have called her Mary's "cousin," but the Greek word used here is better translated "relative."  Zechariah and Elisabeth had not been blessed with children.  We pick up our story with today's Scripture lesson.  Zechariah is doing his priestly duties in the temple.  He was burning incense and praying for the nation of Israel.  Zechariah and Elisabeth were well but  both "stricken with years" which indicates that they are approaching the end of their earthly ministry.  In answer to Zechariah's prayer for continuation of the nation of Israel, an angel appears and explains that Elisabeth will bear a son for them.  Because of their devotion to God, our Scripture tells us that their son will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from the womb.  This is a big deal!  This is one of those things that really means a lot to those of us 21st century Christians.  We know that God has promised that the Holy Spirit will dwell within us as soon as we accept Christ as our personal Savior.  John the Baptist receives this gift in the womb.  I believe that God did this because of the urgency and importance of John the Baptist's message.  After all, he was to be the great announcer and baptizer.  John's message had to be clear as he was very sure to be misunderstood.  Boy, can I relate to that!  Israel was laying in wait for the coming Messiah to save them from oppression.  It would be easy for people to believe he was that Messiah.  Some did! It would be easy for them to believe that he was Elijah as foretold in the Old Testament.  Some did!  The indwelling of the Holy Spirit let John the Baptist be crystal clear about who he was, even if some didn't believe, listen, or jumped to erroneous and self-serving conclusions.  There are so many lessons for us to learn in these three verses.  First, if you are reading this and are becoming "stricken in years, "  it is not too late for you to continue or start serving God.  Someone has lied to you if you think you should "retire."  The Bible doesn't mention it and Abraham, Moses, Noah, Joshua, and Zechariah did some of their best work in their "Golden Years."  Unfortunately, our American culture does not often appreciate the "wisdom of age."  Nevertheless, it is there and please use it.  We all need it.  Secondly, be bold and clear who you are and who God is.  Let the Holy Spirit dwell in you each day.  People will misinterpret what you say.  They will misunderstand.  That is not your problem when you are living in the Spirit.  It is theirs.  Be clear in proclaiming God's message as you announce Him like John did.  Finally, have the same revelation John did about who Jesus was.  It was not until John the Baptist was in the river baptizing Jesus, that both Jesus and John the Baptist received God's confirmation.  Remember, God spoke audibly for the first time to both of them for all to hear.  God was proud of His Son Jesus and of John the Baptist's obedience.  Christ then proclaimed that John the Baptist was the greatest of the prophets.  Because of Christ's earthly ministry that was to come, we also become greater than the Old testament prophets as we tell people about Jesus the Messiah.  So the game is about to begin.  The crowd has arrived.  People are waiting for the big announcement, even if they are not sure what that is!  It is time to tell the world about Jesus.  Who is to do that?  We are today's John the Baptist, so it is time to cue the announcer!