For nearly four hundred years after Malachi, divine silence marked the history of Israel. With the birth announcements of John the Baptist and Jesus the divine silence was about to be broken.
The birth stories of John and Jesus have parallels. Both are miracles: in the case of John, Elizabeth had gone well past the child-bearing age; in the case of Jesus, a virgin was to bear the child. The angel Gabriel announced both birth promises. Both announcements were received in a spirit of wonder, joy, and surrender to God’s will. Both babies were to grow and become strong in the Spirit (Luke 1:80, Luke 2:40) .
But the mission and the ministry of the two miracle babies were distinct and different. John was to be a preparer of the way to Jesus(Luke 1:13-17) . Jesus is
the Son of God (Luke 1:35) and the fulfillment of the Messianic prophecies (Luke 1:31-33) .
Read Luke 1:5-22. Though Zacharias is depicted as
blameless, his lack of faith at the angel’s announcement brought a rebuke. How does this help us to understand what the concept of
blameless means for a believer in Jesus?
The birth of a son to Zacharias, like the birth of the child of Abraham, and that of Mary, was to teach a great spiritual truth, a truth that we are slow to learn and ready to forget. In ourselves we are incapable of doing any good thing; but that which we cannot do will be wrought by the power of God in every submissive and believing soul. It was through faith that the child of promise was given. It is through faith that spiritual life is begotten, and we are enabled to do the works of righteousness.—Ellen G. White, read The Desire of Ages, p. 98.
The miracle of John had a decisive purpose in God’s dealing with His people. After 400 years of prophetic absence in the history of Israel, John did break forth into that history with a specific message and with a decisive power. John’s mission and message was
to make ready a people prepared for the Lord (Luke 1:17, NKJV) . He was to be the forerunner of the Messiah, the one to prepare the way for the mission of Jesus.