Zacharias and Elisabeth: The Forerunner to Christ

Last week, we took a look at the song of Zacharias and how he foretold that his son would point the way to redemption and the plan of salvation.

Zacharias and John

In closing this series on the Eyewitness to Christmas, the story of Zacharias and Elisabeth, let’s take a look at the child they had.  The last verse in Luke 1 gives us some indication.

80  And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his showing unto Israel.

“That is, in courage, understanding, and purposes of good, fitting him for his future work. The word wax means to increase, to grow, from an old Saxon word.”[Barnes’ Notes on the New Testament.}

“The deserts are classified as “The thinly settled region west of the Dead Sea.”  {The Fourfold Gospel: or A Harmony of the Four Gospels.}

John grew up in the wilderness

“In the wilderness of Judea where he could have ample opportunity for communion with God.”  {Johnson’s Notes on the New Testament.}

“John gave proofs of strong faith, vigorous and holy affections, and of being above the fear and love of the world. Thus he ripened for usefulness; but he lived a retired life, till he came forward openly as the forerunner of the Messiah. Let us follow peace with all men, as well as seek peace with God and our own consciences.”   {Matthew Henry Concise Bible Commentary.}

We do not know from scripture what happened to Zacharias and Elisabeth or how long

John grew strong in spirit

they lived after the birth of their son.  Many historians believe {based on apocryphal works} that Zacharias was murdered while protecting his son when Herod sent the soldiers to kill all of the male children under 2.

John lived in the wilderness.  Whether he was sent there for his safety or had no other choice but to live off the land after the loss of both of his parents we do not know.  Maybe it was a little of both, although one does wonder why a kinsman did not take him in.   However, this was also meant to fulfill the prophecy.

Isaiah 40:3 says, “The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.”


John was foretold about in the Old Testament

Malachi 3:1, “Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord [adonai], 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 [YHWH] of hosts.”

Both of these scriptures prophecy of the coming of the messenger that would pave the way for the Messiah.  That is exactly what John the Baptist did.

We know nothing else of John the Baptist, until he reappears for his ministry.

Matthew 3:1 says, “In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea,

John came forth


Mark 1:4 tells us, “John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.”

Mark 1:6 and Matthew 3:4 both say, “Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey.”

John told of the coming of the Messiah.   John was the one to baptize Jesus.  {Mark 1:9}

Many of John’s disciples became disciples of Jesus.

John the Baptist came from the wilderness

John is then imprisoned for speaking the truth to Herod.  When Herod has a great party, his daughter asks for the head of John the Baptist and Herod present it to her on a plate.

John lived a life that was devoted to the Messiah.  His sole purpose was to prepare the way for Jesus, the Messiah.

Being devoted to the Lord is not easy, but as Christians, it is what we are called to do.  What we are unable to do in our own strength, the Holy Spirit helps us to accomplish.

Are you devoted to the Lord?


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