What is the difference between John’s birth prophecy and mission and Jesus’ birth prophecy and mission?
For many people, it can be hard to relate to Jesus. His divinity, perfection, savior of the world status are kinda out of reach. Unless you have a rockstar messiah complex, we common people can relate a lot more to John, a regular salt-of-the-earth guy who ate locusts and honey and wore rags for clothing. Okay, so maybe you can’t relate to John’s prophetic status, but the point is that you probably can find something in common with him.
John’s birth prophecy tells us that his mission was to prepare people to meet Jesus.
Hear that: his mission was to prepare people to meet Jesus. Sound familiar? That is our mission too.
We absolutely need to model our lives after Jesus. Our entire study of the book of Luke is based on that. We want to know Jesus better, this guy who was amazing. But sometimes that can be frustrating…Jesus was perfect and I cannot be perfect. But in John we have a man, a human, who we can model. Remember in 1st Corinthians when Paul told the church in Corinth “Imitate me as I imitate Christ”? Paul was giving them a model to follow. For us, John is a lot like that.
Also, John’s birth prophecy tells us that he had the Spirit from birth, and so do we have the Spirit when we become true disciples of Jesus. God blessed him that way because God had a purpose for him. With John he said “You’re getting blessed. No questions asked. You’re getting the Spirit from birth, and you’ve got a mission.”
What mission? “to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
Because of this, John’s first title was the Forerunner. Baptist is another title he received. We’ll get there in the new year as we continue studying through the Gospel Luke. For now, we hear from the Angel Gabriel’s prophecy that John will be the Forerunner. What is that all about?
Well, the nation of Israel wasn’t ready for the entrance of the Messiah. They were longing for a military leader, a king, to wipe out the Romans. Another Maccabees. But what God promised was a different kind of Messiah. If they would have read the OT closely they would have seen the Messiah come to life in the prophecies of Isaiah and Ezekiel and others. The Messiah was to be a spiritual savior.
People weren’t ready for that. They weren’t spiritually ready. They wanted to raise up an army of soldiers. God wanted to raise up an army of missionaries. So John’s job was to get the people ready, to muster up revival. And that is what he did.
What we will see, when we get to the story of his adult ministry, is that John is an inspiring biblical character. Selfless, devoted to his cause. He says “Someone is coming. I’m not even worthy to untie his sandals.” He understood his role, to prepare people to meet the Messiah, and gave himself to it. John’s ministry likely only lasted 2-3 months. Then Jesus came on scene, and John faded. When Jesus showed up to be baptized, John says “He must increase and I must decrease.” And just like that his ministry was effectively over.
Advent is a time during which we prepare for the coming of birth of the Lord.
What could it look like for us to make ready a people prepared for the Lord?
What did John do? He used an appropriate method to that culture and time. He dressed up like the prophet Elijah, and spoke about the coming of the Messiah, that they needed to repent, be baptized.
What would be appropriate in our culture?
We have many people that are scientifically minded and more and more becoming “Nones”, meaning that they have no religion. It’s very hard for them to believe that a guy in the sky loves them.
So how do we make people ready for the Lord?
We need to be Jesus for them.
We show them Jesus first and foremost by how we live our lives.