Mary stayed with Elizabeth and Zechariah for three months. We can only imagine what those three months were like for her–pregnant and maybe just beginning to show. Many questions to ponder as she imagined what Jesus would be like; what her life as a mother and wife would be and many more, I am sure.
Meanwhile, Elizabeth was growing close to term, long after she had been declared unable to bear children. So. this was a miracle baby who was to be called John and later, as his father, Zechariah, predicted,
“And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High…
you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him,
to give his people the knowledge of salvation
through the forgiveness of their sins,
because of the tender mercy of our God,
by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
to shine on those living in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the path of peace” (Luke 1:76-79).
As with the story of Mary and the child she will birth, there is more to this story of the birth of John the Baptist, than just his story. Each of us is born on this green Earth with God’s plan for us. The challenges and good times we go through shape us in order to carry out God’s plan for us. Our early experiences and the things we are taught are meant to prepare us to carry out God’s plan for our lives. In fact, our purpose grows out of the pain and challenges that we encounter in our lives. As we follow the Lord in our lives and He heals us of our pain and suffering, we can be called to help others in the same or similar circumstances that afflicted us. Or we might be called to change the circumstances in our country that brought us to our knees. Or some other way of serving the Lord. Whatever the call we receive, we can know that it is God’s plan for us that will fulfill the promise of our birth and what we have been through in this lifetime.
Think of John’s life, lived mostly in the wilderness. But even before Jesus began His ministry, John had begun his own, baptizing people and pointing the way to Jesus who was to come:
“The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Messiah. John answered them all, ‘I baptize 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 baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 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’ “ (Luke 3:15-17).
John even baptized Jesus. “Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened 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’ “ (John 3:21-22).
John preached to all the people who came into the wilderness to be baptized. A memorable figure in camel-skin clothes, he taught others to help the poor with food and clothing, tax collectors to not collect more than they were owed, and soldiers not to extort money or accuse falsely and to be content with what they had (John 3:10-14). When he criticized Herod, he was locked up in prison (Luke 3:19-20). John’s death came as a gift for Herod from Herodias’s daughter after pleasing him so much by her dance at Herod’s birthday celebration. At her mother’s suggestion, she asked that John the Baptist’s head be brought on a platter to him. His disciples came and took away his body for burial (Matthew 14:6-12).
John’s life and ministry fulfilled the purpose for which he had been born. It behooves us to listen to God for our purpose and to figure that every step in our lives is a training ground for our purpose. If we watch and wonder where the Lord is taking us, we will eventually encounter our purpose and, on the way there, we will also need to face all the issues that come up within us that would keep us from serving God and fulfilling our purpose as He designed us. Through our prayers for healing each issue as it arises in us, over time we will be healed and then transformed into the people of God who can live out His plan for our lives.
Questions to ponder over the week: Am I aware of the purpose that God designed for me? Am I living that purpose? Or have I not moved close enough to Jesus to have heard what His purpose for me is?
Blessing for the week: May we be the people of God who know their purpose as God has defined it and are living it. May all that we do be in partnership with God.
- I am giving away a 10-week journaling guide to Jesus’s Two Great Commandments. If you are interested, email me at email@example.com and I will email it to you, free of charge.
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