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PDF Download - Week 1 John the Baptist, Forerunner for the Messiah
Wednesday 1st at St Martin's
John the Baptist: Forerunner for the Messiah
A priest and
his wife were well beyond the years when it is possible to give birth to a
child. The angel, Gabriel, gave Zechariah the incredible news that his wife,
Elizabeth, would give birth to a son who would become a great preacher. They
were to name the baby John.
Baptist is an enigmatic figure within the New Testament. In Christian tradition
his role as the precursor to Jesus has been emphasized, with theological stress
laid on the presentation of the Fourth Gospel: John is the forerunner who
points the way to Jesus as the “lamb of God” (1:29). John was a remarkable
figure who called for repentance and baptism ahead of a coming figure’s arrival
(Matthew 3:1–12, Mark 1:2–8, Luke 3:1–18, John 1:19–28).
the Season of Advent is the figure of John the Baptist, the child of
Zachary and Elisabeth, born to them in their later years. John was a man of
destiny appointed by God and would be described by Christ himself as ‘the last
and the greatest of the prophets.’ John is a hinge, the link between all
those great figures of the Old Testament, such as Abraham, Moses, David and
Isaiah, and Jesus Christ who fulfilled all the promises of that first Testament
and ushered in the New.
baptized Jesus, at the beginning of Jesus’ mission, the relationship between
the two men has long been of interest.
John was known as the “baptist” or “baptizer” due to his practice of a
distinctive type of water immersion. John enjoyed a reputation both as a
teacher of righteousness and as a prophet. The unsettling political
implications of his justice message, perhaps coupled with his austere manner on
the observance of the Law and criticisms of immorality, likely stand behind the
decision of Herod Antipas to have him arrested and then executed. How would you
have reacted to such a minister whom as far as Jesus was concerned was the
greatest of those born among women.
preached repentance. His words were as harsh as his clothes and diet. His whole
person is a preaching of the law, but this for the purpose for faith and
salvation. John points to Christ, to the life and salvation that comes from
His death and resurrection. John’s greatest preaching happens when Jesus
comes to the bank of the Jordan River, and John, pointing to Him, says, “Behold
the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world,” (John 1:29). As we hear
the preach of John the Baptist we also behold Jesus, who takes away our sin.
Passage: Luke 1:5-25.
Visits the Priest Zechariah.
5 In the time of Herod king of Judea
there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of
Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. 6 Both
of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands
and decrees blamelessly. 7 But they were childless
because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old.
8 Once when Zechariah’s division was on
duty and he was serving as priest before God, 9 he
was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the
temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And when
the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshippers were
11 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to
him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12 When
Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. 13 But
the angel said to him: ‘Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been
heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him
John. 14 He will be a joy and delight to you, and
many will rejoice because of his birth, 15 for he
will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other
fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is
born. 16 He will bring back many of the people of
Israel to the Lord their God. 17 And he will go on
before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the
parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the
righteous – to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.’
18 Zechariah asked the angel, ‘How can I
be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well on in years.’
19 The angel said to him, ‘I am Gabriel.
I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to
tell you this good news. 20 And now you will be
silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not
believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time.’
21 Meanwhile, the people were waiting
for Zechariah and wondering why he stayed so long in the temple. 22 When
he came out, he could not speak to them. They realised he had seen a vision in
the temple, for he kept making signs to them but remained unable to speak.
23 When his time of service was
completed, he returned home. 24 After this his wife
Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion. 25 ‘The
Lord has done this for me,’ she said. ‘In these days he has shown his favour
and taken away my disgrace among the people.’
1. What catches your attention?
2. What kind of person was Zechariah? Vs
3. What qualities do you think a priest
such as Zechariah had?
4. Why did he doubt Angel Gabriel?
26 In the
sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a
town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a
descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and
said, ‘Greetings, you who are highly favoured! The Lord is with you.’ 29 Mary
was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might
be. 30 But the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found
favour with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to
call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most
High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will
reign over Jacob’s descendants for ever; his kingdom will never end.’
will this be,’ Mary asked the angel, ‘since I am a virgin?’ 35 The angel
answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High
will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.
36Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she
who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word
from God will ever fail.’ 38 ‘I am the Lord’s servant,’ Mary answered. ‘May
your word to me be fulfilled.’ Then the angel left her.
1. What jumps
off the page at you?
Mary’s reaction to Gabriel(Vs 34-37) with Zechariah’s reaction(Vs 18) ? Just
think Mary was a simple village girl, a teenager going about her duties as far
as she knew. Is it possible that younger people could have faith beyond older learned
difference will this passage make for our approach to this festive season?
Visits John’s Mother.
39 At that
time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40 where
she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard
Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the
Holy Spirit. 42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: ‘Blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favoured, that the
mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as the sound of your greeting
reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 Blessed is she who has
believed that the Lord would fulfil his promises to her!’
46 And Mary
said: ’My soul glorifies the Lord 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,
48 for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all
generations will call me blessed, 49 for the Mighty One has done great things
for me – holy is his name. 50 His mercy extends to those who fear him, from
generation to generation. 51He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has
scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. 52 He has brought down
rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. 53 He has filled the
hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. 54 He has helped his servant
Israel, remembering to be merciful 55 to Abraham and his descendants for ever,
just as he promised our ancestors.’
stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.
1. What fresh
thing do you find in this passage? Just look at vs 41.
2. Who are
the characters in this passage and how are they described?
3. How is
Mary’s song the Magnificat a true reflection (or not) on what God is doing in
our society today?
encouragements and challenges do you see in Mary's song for the work of the
church in your community?
5. What might
you personally take out of this reflection as you continue to make your
Christian journey through the season of Advent?
beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, 2 as it is
written in Isaiah the prophet: ‘I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will
prepare your way’ – 3 ‘a voice of one calling in the wilderness, “Prepare
the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.”’
4 And so
John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance
for the forgiveness of sins. 5 The whole Judean countryside and all the people
of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptised by him
in the River Jordan. 6 John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather
belt round his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 7 And this was his
message: ‘After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose
sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. 8 I baptise you with water,
but he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit.’
1. What jumps
off the page at you?
2. What do
a. are the characteristics of John the
b. the role of the prophet is in
3. What does
this particular passage tell us about Jesus?
4. Do some of
our street preachers remind you of John the Baptist?
Baptist prepares the way
3 In the fifteenth year of the reign of
Tiberius Caesar – when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod
tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and
Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene – 2 during the
high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of
Zechariah in the wilderness. 3 He went into all the
country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the
forgiveness of sins. 4 As it is written in the book
of the words of Isaiah the prophet:
‘A voice of one calling in the wilderness,
“Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.
5 Every valley shall be filled in,
every mountain and hill made low.
The crooked roads shall become straight,
the rough ways smooth.
6 And all people will see God’s salvation.”’
7 John said to the crowds coming out to
be baptised by him, ‘You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the
coming wrath? 8 Produce fruit in keeping with
repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, “We have Abraham as our
father.” For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for
Abraham. 9 The axe has been laid to the root of the
trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and
thrown into the fire.’
10 ‘What should we do then?’ the crowd
11 John answered, ‘Anyone who has two
shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should
do the same.’
12 Even tax collectors came to be
baptised. ‘Teacher,’ they asked, ‘what should we do?’
13 ‘Don’t collect any more than you are
required to,’ he told them.
14 Then some soldiers asked him, ‘And
what should we do?’
‘Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely – be content with your
15 The people were waiting expectantly
and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the
Messiah. 16 John answered them all, ‘I baptise you
with water. But one who is more powerful than I will
come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptise you
with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 His
winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing-floor and to gather the
wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable
fire.’ 18 And with many other words John exhorted
the people and proclaimed the good news to them.
19 But when John rebuked Herod the
tetrarch because of his marriage to Herodias, his brother’s wife, and all the
other evil things he had done, 20 Herod added this
to them all: he locked John up in prison.
baptism and genealogy of Jesus
21 When all the people were being
baptised, Jesus was baptised too. And as he was praying, heaven was
opened 22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in
bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: ‘You are my Son, whom I
love; with you I am well pleased.’
1. What strikes you in this passage?
2. Was John the Baptist an accidental
3. What is his connection with the past
and what is his connection with the future?
4. Why was John content to stay in Jesus’
John the Baptist
11 After Jesus had finished instructing
his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in the towns of
2 When John, who was in prison, heard
about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples 3 to
ask him, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?’
4 Jesus replied, ‘Go back and
report to John what you hear and see: 5 the blind
receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are
raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. 6 Blessed
is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.’
7 As John’s disciples were leaving,
Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: ‘What did you go out into
the wilderness to see? A reed swayed by the wind? 8 If
not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who
wear fine clothes are in kings’ palaces. 9 Then
what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a
prophet. 10 This is the one about whom it is
send my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way before you.”
11 Truly I tell you, among those born of
women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is
least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12 From
the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been
subjected to violence, and violent people have been raiding it. 13 For
all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. 14 And
if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come. 15 Whoever
has ears, let them hear.
16 ‘To what can I compare this
generation? They are like children sitting in the market-places and calling out
17 ‘“We played the pipe for you,
and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge,
and you did not mourn.”
18 For John came neither eating nor drinking,
and they say, “He has a demon.” 19 The Son of Man
came eating and drinking, and they say, “Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a
friend of tax collectors and sinners.” But wisdom is proved right by her
1. What grabs your attention in this
2. Why was John in prison?
3. What does Jesus say about John?
4. Would we be content to go to prison
for preaching what we believed was the truth?