57 Now the time had come for Elizabeth to give birth, and she had a son. 58 Then her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her His great mercy, and they rejoiced with her. 59 When they came to circumcise the child on the eighth day, they were going to name him Zechariah, after his father. 60 But his mother responded, “No! He will be called John.” 61 Then they said to her, “None of your relatives has that name.” 62 So they motioned to his father to find out what he wanted him to be called. 63 He asked for a writing tablet and wrote: HIS NAME IS JOHN. And they were all amazed. 64 Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue set free, and he began to speak, praising God. 65 Fear came on all those who lived around them, and all these things were being talked about throughout the hill country of Judea. 66 All who heard about him took it to heart, saying, “What then will this child become?” For, indeed, the Lord’s hand was with him.
67 Then his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied: 68 Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, because He has visited and provided redemption for His people. 69 He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David, 70 just as He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets in ancient times; 71 salvation from our enemies and from the clutches of those who hate us. 72 He has dealt mercifully with our fathers and remembered His holy covenant — 73 the oath that He swore to our father Abraham. He has given us the privilege, 74 since we have been rescued from our enemies’ clutches, to serve Him without fear 75 in holiness and righteousness in His presence all our days. 76 And child, you will be called a prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare His ways, 77 to give His people knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins. 78 Because of our God’s merciful compassion, the Dawn from on high will visit us 79 to shine on those who live in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace. 80 The child grew up and became spiritually strong, and he was in the wilderness until the day of his public appearance to Israel.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
…you will be called a prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare His ways, to give His people knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins.
When I was a child, I sometimes had the opportunity to work next to a family member planting a small field. I don’t remember if we planted purple-hull peas or corn, but I very much remember the experience.
I had the not so impressive task of making a little hole in the ground with my hand, and then my uncle or grandfather would come behind me, put the seed in the ground, and cover it up with earth. It was a boring job, but it cut the amount of time that a more experienced worker had to spend planting each seed.
As a parent now looking back, it was probably a very good way to give my parents a much-needed break from an active kid for a few hours.
In the eyes of a child, every time we started a new row, it appeared impossibly long. But then, little by little and one hole at a time, the planting happened. The rows became shorter, one row became a bunch of rows, and the job was completed.
I can’t imagine God telling me I was going to prepare the way for the central figure in the history of the world. I can’t imagine how daunting or impossible that task must have felt. But, little by little and task by task, John accomplished his task. He prepared the way.
Today is a day of preparation for many people. Houses are being cleaned as families are on their way, presents are being wrapped and put under the tree, and many delicious meals are being prepared.
Consider the difference in perspective of an adult making preparations and a young child having to wait until Christmas morning to open that box they have been looking at for quite some time. As adults, we know what is to come. As a child, there is eager anticipation while not really knowing what is to come.
In our relationship with God, we’re the children. God knows what is to come, and we do not. In the same way a child eagerly anticipates a Christmas gift, we are to eagerly anticipate what God has for us. We are told that His plans are to prosper us and not to harm us, and they are to give us hope and a future.
As we look forward to tomorrow and celebrating the birth of our Christ, let us not forget the preparation.
- How are circumstances or people preparing the ground of your soul?
- What does Jesus need prepared to work in your life and the lives of those around you?
- What is your part in the salvation story? Are we preparers of the ground? Do we reap? Do we sow? Do we prepare the ground? All are important jobs.
- With His leading and without trying to do God’s job, what are you preparing?