The Life of John the Baptist: The Birth of John the Baptist

The Life of John the Baptist

THE BIRTH OF JOHN THE BAPITST // Luke 1:5-25; 1:57-80

I. The parents of John the Baptist (Luke 1:5-7)

    A. Zacharias was a priest, of the division of Abijah

      1. “Jehovah is renowned”
      2. “The great numbers of priests necessitated that particular choice for various functions should be made by casting lots; and no one was allowed to burn incense more than once, many never being permitted to do so at all.” (Coffman, Luke)

    B. Elizabeth was of the daughters of Aaron

      1. “God is an oath”
      2. A relative of Mary
      3. Barren

    C. They were both “righteous before God”

      1. “Walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord”
      2. “Blameless”

II. Zacharias’ service in the temple (Luke 1:8-10)

    A. “The inside of the Temple-building was exactly like the inside of the Tabernacle. The Holy Place contained the Table of Showbread, the Menora (candelabra), and the Altar of Incense. Outside the Temple-building was the Altar of Burnt Offering and the Laver. Inside the Holy of Holies was where the Ark of the Covenant was supposed to be. Only the High Priest could enter there and only once a year on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur). Incense was burned on this altar (which stood just in front of the veil which separated the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies) every morning and every evening so that it was literally, perpetual (cf. Ex. 30:8). It was customary for the Jews to stop whatever they were doing each day at these times of burning the incense in the temple and pray. Many made a special trip to the Temple courts to pray at those hours. It was one of the greatest experience in the life of an ordinary priest of the Jews to be chosen to burn the incense.” (Butler, Luke)

III. Gabriel speaks to Zacharias (Luke 1:11-23)

    A. Fear was the normal response to the appearance of an angel
    B. The announcement of a son

      1. Call his name John – “gift of God” or “God’s grace”
      2. Great in the sight of the Lord
      3. Drink neither wine nor strong drink
      4. Will be filled with the Holy Spirit

    C. John’s work

      1. Turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord
      2. Turn the hearts of the fathers to the children (Malachi 4:6)
      3. Turn the disobedient to the wisdom of the just
      4. Make ready a people prepared for the Lord

    D. Zacharias’ unbelief

      1. Because of his age
      2. Punishment was to be made deaf (Luke 1:62) and dumb until John’s birth
      3. “Zacharias is not the only one to ask for evidence on which to base his belief: Gideon did; Thomas did….But since Zacharias didn’t believe the word of the angel Gabriel, he was given a sign that would not only establish it in his mind but also cause the people to see that something unusual had happened while he was in the temple.” (Applebury, Luke)

IV. Elizabeth conceives (Luke 1:24-25)

    A. The inability to bear children was viewed as a curse from God
    B. “The mores of that society were such that Elizabeth would indeed have suffered all kinds of reproach from her family, possibly even from her husband, and certainly from her community. Her gratitude at the lifting of such a reproach is beautiful and touching. If she had suffered a number of miscarriages in the past, it would have accounted for her period of hiding for five months.” (Coffman, Luke)

V. The birth of John (Luke 1:57-66)

    A. The neighbors believed the child should be named Zacharias after his father, but Elizabeth and Zacharias rejected their suggestion

      1. Children were traditionally named after a relative
      2. “The officiousness of the neighbors is seen in their appealing over the mother’s wishes to Zacharias himself.” (Coffman, Luke)

    B. Upon the affirmation of the child’s name, Zacharias was able to speak
    C. “The miracles surrounding the birth of John were talked about through all the hill country of Judea. Those who witnessed the miracles agreed, ‘…the hand of the Lord was with him.’ No doubt there were many who remembered these testimonies when John began preaching 30 years later and repeated them to the younger generation so that great multitudes (Mt. 3:5) went out into the uninhabited Jordan river valley to hear him. After all, there had not been a bona fide prophet of God among the Hebrew people for over 400 years.” (Butler, Luke)

VI. Zacharias prophesies (Luke 1:67-80)

    A. Zacharias praises God for the arrival of the times of the Messiah

      1. Verses 68-75 refer to the coming Christ

        a. “He has visited and redeemed His people” (cf. Isaiah 29:6; Zephaniah 2:7; Psalm 8:4-6; Hebrews 2:6; Acts 15:14)
        b. “A horn of salvation” (cf. Psalm 132:17; 148:14; Ezekiel 29:21)
        c. “In the house of His servant David” (cf. Amos 9:11; Acts 15:15-18)

      2. Verses 76-79 refer to John’s work of preparation for the Christ

        a. “The imagery is that of a herald going before a king to prepare the way for a royal visitor.” (Coffman, Luke)
        b. One of his tasks: “To give knowledge of salvation to His people by the remission of their sins” (cf. Luke 3:3)

    B. Verse 80 is the only information we have about John’s life until his work begins

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