3 Dec. Luke 1:57-80

3 Dec. The significance of the birth of John the Baptist

"When it was time for Elizabeth to give birth, she had a boy. Her neighbours and relatives heard how good the Lord was to her, and they rejoiced with her."

"When the baby was eight days old, they came to circumcise him [according to Jewish tradition]. They wanted to name him Zechariah because this was his father's name, but his mother said, 'No! He will be named John.'"

"The people said to Elizabeth, 'But no one in your family has this name.' Then they made signs to his father to find out what he would like to name him. Zechariah asked for a writing tablet and wrote, 'His name is John.' Immediately, Zechariah could talk again, and he began praising God."

"All their neighbours became alarmed, and in all the mountains of Judea people continued talking about these things. The people who heard about them wondered, saying, 'What will this child be?' because the Lord was with him."

"Then Zechariah, John's father, was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied:
'Let us praise the Lord, the God of Israel,
because he has come to help his people and has given them freedom.
He has given us a powerful Saviour
from the family of God's servant David.'"

"'He promised he would save us from our enemies
and from the power of all those who hate us.
He said he would give mercy to our fathers
and that he would remember his holy promise...'"

"'Now you, child, will be called a prophet of the Most High God.
You will go before the Lord to prepare his way.
You will make his people know that they will be saved
by having their sins forgiven.'"

"'With the loving mercy of our God,
a new day from heaven will dawn upon us.
It will shine on those who live in darkness,
in the shadow of death.
It will guide us into the path of peace.'"

"And so the child [John] grew up and became strong in spirit. John lived in the desert until the time when he came out to preach to Israel."

          (Luke 1:57-80)



John was born in 6BC. Zechariah confirmed that, contrary to common custom, he was to be called John, even though he had no relative of that name.

Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied that John would “go before the Lord to prepare his way” (Luke 1:76).

Once again, Zechariah is referring back to the words of the angel Gabriel, that John would "go before the Lord in spirit and power like Elijah... to make a people ready for the coming of the Lord" (Luke 1:17).

And so the path is prepared in the Christmas story for John the Baptist to announce the coming of Jesus, God's 'Messiah' and Saviour - the one who will save God's people from their enemies and from their own wrongdoing.

The passage ends by telling us that John grew up and went to live “in the desert” of Judaea (Luke 1:80). The Judaean Desert (or Judaean Wilderness), to the west of the Dead Sea, is a dry and barren area with very low rainfall.

In the summer, dry winds blow from the east across the Arabian Desert. In winter, westerly winds from the Mediterranean Sea drop most of their moisture over the Judaean Hills to the west, leaving the wilderness dry.

In this barren, stony desert where very little grows, John the Baptist, living on a frugal diet of locusts and wild honey, began a strict regime of fasting and prayer (see Luke 5:33) and, some years later, embarked on his prophetic mission (see Matthew 3:1-6).

The photo shows the Judaean Desert at Qumran, near the Dead Sea to the east of Jerusalem.

You can read more about the birth of John the Baptist and discover more about the Judaean Desert @ https://www.thebiblejourney.org/…/2-john…/the-birth-of-john/

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