The text for today’s article contains the story of John the Baptist’s father, Zechariah, and his encounter with an angel.
Here’s a summary of the event.
— Luke 1.5-6 – John’s parents, Zechariah and Elizabeth, were devoted followers of God. They were unable to have children and were advanced in age to the point where childbearing seemed impossible.
— Luke 1.8-10 – Zechariah was a priest and was chosen by lot (or a drawing) to burn incense in the Temple. This was a great honor and privilege.
— Luke 1.11-15 – At the appointed time of prayer, an angel appeared to Zechariah and told him that the couple would conceive a child and name him John.
Jewish names identify God’s purpose in a person’s life. For example, Jesus means “Jehovah saves” and John means “God is gracious.”
— Luke 1.16-20 – God is at work in the world, accomplishing his purposes. Zechariah is told that John will partner with God in his redemptive work.
John’s Job Description
Today, I meditated on two verses during prayer. I was impressed with what John was to do and why we should imitate his behavior.
— Luke 1.16-17 – “He will turn many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God.
With the spirit and power of Elijah he will go before him, to turn the hearts of parents to their children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
Gabriel told Zechariah that John would prepare people to meet the Lord Jesus by doing three things. As we follow John’s example, we will do the same as did John.
(1) Turn people to the Lord.
Whether we know it or not, we are part of a vast advertising campaign for God. Our attitudes and actions will either draw people to Jesus or make it hard for them to desire a relationship with him.
For some people, the only knowledge they have of Christianity is the public failure of high-profile ministers and religious TV personalities.
Our friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors need us to live a Jesus-kind-of-life as the best “advertising” possible for the Lord.
(2) Turn the hearts of parents to their children.
Approximately 450-500 years before John’s birth, Malachi prophesied about his work.
— Malachi 4.5-6 – Lo, I will send you the prophet Elijah before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes.
He will turn the hearts of parents to their children and the hearts of children to their parents so that I will not come and strike the land with a curse.
2021 has been designated as the “International Year for the Elimination of Child Labor.” Child labor around the globe has decreased by 38%, but there are still 152 million children who are denied a normal childhood because they are in the workforce.
The latest information on child abuse and neglect also shows a decline in this category. However, it is little consolation for the 650,000 children who have suffered in the past year.
How can we join with God to turn the hearts of parents to their children?
The most effective way to change a person’s attitude and actions is to help them meet Jesus. As people live in a relationship with Jesus, they are transformed into the parents and friends they have always wanted to be.
The Gospel of Luke emphasizes the role of prayer throughout the book. God wants us to pray and prayer to turn adults to care for children is a good theme for prayer.
(3) To turn the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous.
Dallas Willard has a simple, but all-encompassing definition of righteousness. A righteous person lives a Jesus-kind-of-life or a life like the one Jesus lived.
Willard points out the obvious that Jesus is the wisest person to ever walk the face of the earth. Jesus knows more about any possible subject than any other person.
It makes great sense for us to learn how to live a Jesus-kind-of-life. It is the smartest way to live.
Once we have begun to walk according to the “wisdom of righteousness,” we can show others the way.
Asking someone to take a journey with us to a life with God is far different from the man with a clapboard sign, who stands on a street corner shouting, “Repent!”
When our attitudes and actions align with Jesus’ life, God will certainly use us to encourage fellow travelers to walk with Jesus, too.
I have outlined how I prayed this passage today. Please read the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth in Luke 1.
Take a few minutes to focus your attention on God. Then, talk to him about what you are reading.
If you have a prayer request, please email me at email@example.com or private message me on Facebook. The Maywood prayer team is honored to pray for you.
Rudy Ross and I have produced a video on this passage. You will be blessed by the insights that Rudy will bring to the discussion. The video is on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel.