Winkfield, Cranbourne & Chavey Down Churches

Parish Advent Bible Study


Wednesday 1st – Wednesday 22nd December 


Come Advent-ure with us


Topic:                  The Life and Work of John the Baptist

(This is a recurring meeting on every Wednesday thru December)

Time:                   11:00-12:00        

Duration:              One hour


Wednesday 8th at St Mary’s

Wednesday 15th December at St Peter’s

Wednesday 22nd December at St Martin's

Or

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PDF Download - Week 1 John the Baptist, Forerunner for the Messiah 

Wednesday 1st at St Martin's

ADVENT CONVERSATIONS

John the Baptist: Forerunner for the Messiah

Story Overview:

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.

John the 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).

Central to 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.

Since he 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.

John 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.

 

Bible Passage:  Luke 1:5-25.

Gabriel Visits the Priest Zechariah.

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. Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old.

Once when Zechariah’s division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, 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 praying outside.

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.’ 


CONVERSATIONS


1.   What catches your attention?


2.   What kind of person was Zechariah? Vs 6


3.   What qualities do you think a priest such as Zechariah had?

4.   Why did he doubt Angel Gabriel?thinking face emoji

 

Gabriel Visits Mary

Luke 1:26-38 (NIVUK)

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.’

34 ‘How 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.


CONVERSATIONS

1.   What jumps off the page at you? thinking face emoji

2.   Compare 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 people?


3.   What difference will this passage make for our approach to this festive season?

 

Mary Visits John’s Mother.

Luke 1:39-56 (NIVUK)

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.’

56 Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.


CONVERSATIONS

 

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?

 

4.   What 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?

 

A wild Prophet

Mark 1:1-8 (NIVUK)

1 The 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.’


CONVERSATIONS

1.   What jumps off the page at you? thinking face emoji

2.   What do you think;

a.     are the characteristics of John the Baptist’s ministry?

b.    the role of the prophet is in Scripture?


3.   What does this particular passage tell us about Jesus?


4.   Do some of our street preachers remind you of John the Baptist?

 

John the Baptist prepares the way

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 – during the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 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.
Every valley shall be filled in,
    every mountain and hill made low.
The crooked roads shall become straight,
    the rough ways smooth.
And all people will see God’s salvation.”’

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? 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. 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 asked.

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?’

He replied, ‘Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely – be content with your pay.’

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.

The 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.’


CONVERSATIONS


1.   What strikes you in this passage?


2.    Was John the Baptist an accidental preacher?


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’ shadow?


Jesus and 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 Galilee.

When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples to ask him, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?’

Jesus replied, ‘Go back and report to John what you hear and see: 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. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.’

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? 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. 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 written:

‘“I will 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 to others:

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 deeds.’


CONVERSATIONS


1.   What grabs your attention in this passage?


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?

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