(15) For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb. (16) And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. (17) And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.Luke 1:15-17
Not only was Zecharia’s prayer answered in that he would have a son, but his son would be used by God in an incredible way. We see Gabriel describe the nature of John’s birth, life and ministry in verses 15-17. What did the angel say about this baby?
- He will be set apart by God, Himself. (v.15)
This is some statement that is made about this child! What an incredible thing to be said about your kids. The description in verse 15 makes it clear that John would take a nazarite vow. There were several famous nazarite’s in the Old Testament. The person most known for being a nazarite is Samson. Samuel was also known to be a nazarite, as Hannah promised him for this vow when asking the Lord to end her barrenness. (1 Samuel 1:11). In verse 17, we see that John’s ministry would be compared to Elijah’s. Some have deduced that Elijah may have been a nazarite as well. King Ahaziah identified Elijah from a description in 2 Kings 1:8 where it says, “(8) And they answered him, He was an hairy man, and girt with a girdle of leather about his loins. And he said, It is Elijah the Tishbite.” Both Elijah and John lived in the wilderness. Both Elijah and John spoke boldly to people in power and were tormented by kings and their queens. Both had moments of doubt about their ministry and were affirmed by God in what He was doing beyond them.
- He will lead a movement of repentance in preparation of the Messiah. (v.16-17)
Verse 16 foretells of the success that John would have with some of the people of Israel. There will be many who “turn to the Lord their God”. This is a good description of repentance.
The Old Testament ends in the book of Malachi’s last two verses that speak of this coming forerunner of the Messiah.
(5) Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: (6) And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.Malachi 4:5-6
Notice how closely this is connected with the description of the ministry of John in Luke 1:17.
And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.(Luke 1:17)
When there is preparation for something it gives some clue to something that is yet to come. Often the more preparation that is needed, the more significant the event. Just think about all of the preparation that goes into many weddings. Choices are panistakingly made over clothing, flowers, decorations, schedule of service, venue, food, candles, who will be in the wedding, who will perform the wedding, the date, the time, and the budget involved- all for a 45 minute ceremony and 3 hour reception.
There is a preparation being made here for an incredible event. The preparation includes all kinds of prophecy given not only about the Messiah when he comes, but this forerunner that prepares the way for His ministry.
Think about this phrase “to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” This could be seen in a general sense meaning a group of people that were being prepared. Yet, we also know that there were specific individuals who had been prepared by John.
The Two Disciples
Andrew was one of the two apostles standing by John when he declared Jesus as the Lamb of God in John 1:35-37. We know this because in John 1:40 it says that one of those disciples was Andrew, and of course, he was instrumental in inviting Peter to see Jesus.
The scripture also tells us that Apollos was a follower of John in that this was the content that he knew about Jesus before being taught by Aquila and Pricilla.
And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus. (25) This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John. (26) And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly. (27) And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him: who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace: (28) For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publickly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ.Acts 18:24-28
Repentance is often the prerequisite decision that we must take to be able to be used by God in a significant way. The preparation for the Messiah was made by repentance in the heart of the people. It was also made by John being a witness and testimony to the true identity of Jesus as Messiah and Lord.
In a way every believer of Christ should help to prepare others for what God wants to do in them. How do we do this? We call people to repentance and we point people to Jesus! We ought not to do this hypocritically. This means that we must be quick to repent and to believe in Jesus, not just for our salvation, but for our sanctification as well. We don’t just repent and believe in Him so we can go to heaven. We repent and trust so that we can live lives that honor God and give us a platform for reaching others.
Examine your heart today to see if there is anything for which you need to repent.