Key Scripture: Luke 1:13-17, 76-79
Although God had spoken to his people through prophets for many years, a time came when God went silent. He didn’t speak to his people again for four hundred years! During this time, some of God’s people returned from exile to the promised land. Although they had been allowed to return from slavery and rebuild the temple, Israel and Judah were still under the control of foreign nations. No king from David’s family was on the throne. In fact, there was no sign of the promised Messiah (another named for the Shepherd King from David’s family who would save God’s people). Was God going to keep his promises to Abraham and David? Many of his people weren’t sure anymore.
But one ordinary day, the long silence was broken by an angel named Gabriel. Gabriel appeared to a priest named Zechariah as he was working in the temple. The angel told Zechariah that he and his wife Elizabeth (who were old and had no children) would have a son named John! John would have God’s Spirit in him before he was even born. He would grow up to be a great prophet of God who would proclaim an important message. John would tell God’s people to turn away from their sin and get ready because the one God had promised for so long was finally here. John would prepare the way for the Messiah!
Zechariah could not believe what this angel was telling him! He asked for a sign, so he could know it was true. Because Zechariah doubted God’s Word with his mouth, the angel closed his mouth. This was his sign: Zechariah would not be able to speak until the birth of his son. When the baby was born, some relatives and neighbors thought he should be named after his father. Zechariah wrote on a tablet, “His name is John.” and immediately his mouth was opened. Full of joy, Zechariah praised the Lord for being a God who remembers his people! God’s promises were coming true!
John grew up to be somewhat strange. He lived in the wilderness, wearing clothes made of camel’s hair, and eating locusts and honey. But John was considered great by God because he recognized and pointed people to the promised Savior. When John saw the Shepherd King coming toward him, he said, “Look! There He is! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”
Main Point: After four hundred years of silence, God sent John the Baptist as a prophet to get God’s people ready for the Messiah–the Shepherd King from David’s family who would save God’s people.
Christ Connection: John prepared the way for Jesus Christ, the Son of David and Son of God (John 1:29; Matthew 11:7-11).