Last week we began our Inductive Study of the Story of the Birth of Jesus. We have looked at the two couples who anchor the Christmas story – Zacharias and Elizabeth and Joseph and Mary. Now we turn our attention to the first-born of these two couples, John.
Let’s dig in!
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John’s Parents & their Promise
Do you remember what happened to Zacharias after the angel appeared to him in the Temple? (he was made mute) How long did he remain mute? (until after his son was born) Do you remember what the angel told Zacharias his son’s name would be? (John).
When we read about Zacharias and Elizabeth last week, we kind of left off on a cliffhanger. Zacharias still unable to speak. Today, we will find out what Zacharias finally said when he was able to speak again. And we will look at this son of his – John.
What Will This Child Turn Out to Be?
Let’s go back and read Luke 1:57-64 to get us reacquainted with the narrative of Zacharias and Elizabeth. What did the neighbors and relatives think the baby’s name should be? (Zacharias, after his father) What did both Elizabeth and Zacharias decide to name him? (John) Could they have a conversation about naming him? (no, Zacharias had been mute for months!) What does it seem from the passage unlocked Zacharias’ tongue? (obedience to the word of the Lord, naming his son John)
If you had not been able to talk to anyone for months (at least 9 months), what would be the first thing you would say? What is the first thing Zacharias said? Is it recorded? (it is not recorded but we know the subject matter – “he began to speak in praise of God.”)
What is the response of the neighbors and relatives to Zacharias’ situation? Read Luke 1:65-66 and record what they you learn:
- fear came on all those living around them
- all these matters were being talked about in all the hill country of Judea
- all who heard them kept them in mind, saying, “What then will this child turn out to be?”
Did you notice a word which appeared in each one of these statements? (all) The situation with Zacharias, Elizabeth, and John was big news! Everyone heard about it, everyone talked about it, everyone kept their eyes out for what would happen next.
Do you remember when we played the mute witness game? Would you like to try to play it again, this time from the perspective of the friends and neighbors talking about this interesting family? (yes!)
Remember we talked last week about God being the only One who can tell the future? And do you remember how God tells His people what is going to happen in the future? (yes, through His prophets) Read Luke 1:67, what is happening?
And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying:Luke 1:67
Everything that is inside those quotation marks is what Zacharias actually said when he was filled with the Holy Spirit (filled and led by God Himself!). There is a lot here, so we are going to look only at one thing today and then hopefully we can look at other aspects later. Let’s look for what we learn about John, his son.
Read Luke 1:68-79 together, marking John in a special way (a double underline, a circle in blue, whatever you like). Now let’s make a list of what we learn in this passage about John.
- John, a child, will be called “the prophet of the Most High” (76)
- will go on BEFORE THE LORD TO PREPARE HIS WAYS (76)
- will give His (God’s) people the knowledge of salvation (76)
Just a few verses before the neighbors and relatives were wondering what this child would be. But Zacharias, filled with the Holy Spirit, knew. His son would be a prophet, a preparer, a teacher. Who will he be a prophet of? (“the Most High”) Who is the Most High? (God) Whose ways will John prepare? (the Lord) What will he tell/or teach the people? (the knowledge of salvation)
John has a big calling, doesn’t he? How does a young person prepare for what God has planned for them? (this is a great discussion question)
One last verse for today. Read verse 80.
And the child continued to grow, and to become strong in spirit, and he lived in the deserts until the day of his public appearance to Israel.verse 80
And one more question for discussion and thinking? Why didn’t God just send John and Jesus as adults to do the work He had planned for them? Why babies?
Tomorrow we will we will talk about a new aspect of this story. Stay tuned!