A Bible Study by Paula Yingst …
We must always keep in mind that the Bible was meant to be a record of the genealogy and family history of the descendants of Adam through Seth through Abraham through Jacob (a.k.a. ISRAEL) through Judah through David through Joseph (and Mary) through Jesus and His followers, plus eye-witnesses and researchers who wrote testimonies about the birth, life, ministry, death, and resurrection of the Son of God, and what happened during the years immediately following Jesus’ ascension into heaven.
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When Mary was visited by the angel Gabriel, he gave her TWO amazing messages from God. Of course, the first was that she would become pregnant by the power of the Holy Spirit and give birth to God’s Son. The second was this …
“You have a relative, Elisheva [Elizabeth], who is an old woman; and everyone says she is barren. But she has conceived a son and is six months pregnant!” (Luke 1:36, Complete Jewish Bible)
Elizabeth gave birth to a son who would be six months older than Jesus. That baby boy, who grew into the role of John the Baptist, fulfilled the prophecy written in the book of Isaiah …
“A voice of one calling:
‘In the wilderness prepare
the way for the Lord
make straight in the desert
a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be raised up,
every mountain and hill made low;
the rough ground shall become level,
the rugged places a plain.
And the glory of the Lord will be revealed,
and all people will see it together.
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.’”
(Luke 3:4-6, New International Version)
The prophet Malachi confirmed the prophecy:
See, I will send my messenger who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly, the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant whom you desire, will come. (Malachi 3:1, NIV)
John grew up knowing that the Lord God had assigned him the ministry of “preparing the way for the Lord.” And as he preached to people in the desert of Judea, he said to them:
“I baptize you in water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.“
John didn’t know the identity of the One he was sent to prepare the way for. Here is his testimony …
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.‘ I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.”
Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.'” (John 1:29-34, NIV)
It must have been quite a shock for John to discover that his own relative was “God’s Chosen One”! And when Jesus came to John to be baptized, John tried to say no. He reasoned: “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”
Jesus replied, ‘Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then John consented.
And this is what happened next …
“As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:14-17, NIV)
SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT: All four gospel writers included John the Baptist’s testimony concerning the revelation that Jesus was the One the descendants of Israel had been waiting for over the course of thousands of years. Each of the writers were addressing a different audience and writing with different purposes in mind, but their accounts are amazingly similar.
Do you believe it?