It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas. Whether you’re out for an evening stroll and see the display of glowing Christmas lights or you’re tuning into your local radio station that will blaring Christmas classics for the next month, it can’t be denied that Christmas is upon us. This truly is a magical time of the year for everyone! However, for those of us in Christ this time of year is about more than Christmas music, family gatherings, gifts, and good food. Christmas for us is the celebration of the glorious incarnation of our Savior. The weeks preceding Christmas, known as Advent, have been historically a time for the church to prepare their hearts for the arrival of Christ, our blessed hope. As, I began to read Luke 1 to my family this morning, as we walk through a chapter a day of Luke over the next 24 days for Advent, I found myself captivated by the life of John the Baptist. This brings me to the purpose of this post today. As we prepare our hearts during this Advent season for the celebration of the birth of Christ, let us take into account the actions of John the Baptist and how he prepared the way for Christ among the peoples and let us imitate his actions not only this Christmas season but throughout our lives.
I like to sum up the life of John the Baptist with three adjectives. John was a proclaimer, a pointer, and a doer.
He was a proclaimer. John was sent into the world to prepare the way for the Christ that was to follow him. In Luke 1:76-77, Zechariah the father of John says, “And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people, in the forgiveness of their sins”. John was tasked to proclaim the way of repentance to the nation of Israel by “giving knowledge of salvation to his people”. This knowledge of salvation was that the messiah had come to take away the sins of the world and this is what John proclaimed throughout his earthly ministry. We, as Christ followers, should be no less zealous about proclaiming the “knowledge of salvation”, to all that we encounter. Do you proclaim the good news of Christ to your neighbor? The check-out clerk at the grocery store? Your unbelieving child? The person at the gym next to you? We, like John, should be proclaimers of the blessed gospel of Jesus Christ for it is the only means of salvation for the world and the greatest gift that you could ever provide!
He was a pointer. In John 1:29, John the Baptist says, “The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world”! A Christian, like John the Baptist, does not only proclaim the forgiveness of sins, the love of God, the grace of God, as excellent as those things are but must also point people to the one who makes all of this possible. Christians must point people to Jesus. This seems elementary to many people, yet so many within the church point people to the things received from Jesus rather than pointing people to Jesus himself. Even the English sentence structure of verse 29 models the importance of the giver over the gift. John declares the giver, “behold the Lamb of God” and then completes the sentence with the gift, “who takes away the sins of the world”. Let us never forget to point people to the giver, Jesus, rather than just the gift.
He is a doer. Christianity is not a spectator sport. It’s not for those who want to be inactive and uninvolved. Being a Christ follower means that we are engaged in the work of the ministry. This is evident in the life of John the Baptist. He proclaimed the good news, he pointed people to Jesus, and the he actively ministered for the kingdom by baptizing people, including Christ. John was no spectator. He was a doer. The gospel of Matthew in chapter 3 verse 6 says this about the work of John, “and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins”. John didn’t just proclaim empty words and point to a powerless Christ, no he truly believed in the message he proclaimed and the power of Christ and he didn’t even know about all the miracles, including the resurrection, that Christ would perform. Do you truly believe in the message that you proclaim? Is it driving you to action? Are you zealous to reach the nations with the gospel of Jesus Christ or are you content letting someone else do it for you? Are you like John the Baptist who was a doer for the Kingdom or do you prefer to have others do for you? Let us imitate John and be doers for the Kingdom!!
As we live in the Advent of His second coming, let us model the behaviors of John the Baptist as he prepared the way for Christ and His first coming.