The Messenger: Dec. 6
In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah,of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years.Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty, according to the custom of the priesthood, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense. And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. Luke 1:5-16
Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the LORD. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the LORD as in the days of old and as in former years. Malachi 3:1-4
Before a king enters a room on a solemn occasion he is “announced.” We can imagine the scene—a uniformed servant raises his voice to command the attention of the room and announces for all to hear: “His Majesty the king” as the sovereign makes his entrance. The “messenger” introduces the king. The same happens before a judge enters the courtroom. “All rise, the honorable Judge Respectable presiding.” Like a king, like a judge, before Jesus entered His ministry, God sent a messenger before Him, declaring His “entrance,” and preparing the “room” for His arrival.
This man was John, son of Elizabeth and Zechariah. His role was foretold by the prophet Malachi 400 years before his birth. The divine purpose for his life was revealed when his old and barren mother suddenly found herself pregnant. Barren women, like Sarah, the mother of Isaac, and Hannah, the mother of Samuel, and the mother of Samson, were often the instruments God used to reveal His supernatural power toward his people. Elizabeth was no exception. In spite of her old age, she would have a son. And her son would be a prophet, mighty in word, and gathering crowds of Israelites from all walks of life.
But his message was not about himself—it was a message of preparation.
In fact, when asked, he was insistent that he was not the Messiah, but rather that the Messiah was coming, the One who would cleanse His people with fire, and who was so glorious that John did not even feel worthy to be His lowest slave. John’s greatest glory was to point people to Jesus Christ—the Lamb of God, who would take away the sins of the world. Of course, this is our greatest glory as well.