FORERUNNERS OF JESUS
Luke was not just the only Gentile writer in the New Testament, he also was the only author of the four gospels to write a sequel to his gospel. As the recognized author of the book of Acts, Luke – as a Gentile outsider – was intent on communicating that the Good News of Jesus was for everyone, and that the redemption story of Jesus did not end with Christ’s ascension. It was God’s plan that this story would go to every corner of the world and continue to be told throughout history through people like you – and me. (Acts 1:8)
The establishment of the Church did not represent a new or completely unrelated act of God. It was part of God’s story. It was part of his original plan. Luke sees God’s action in Jesus as the great central intervention of God in the affairs of men and the center of His plan for the ages. On the night of Christ’s birth, an angel of the Lord appeared to some nearby shepherds and said, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; his is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10-11)
Zechariah was a priest in Israel. He and his wife were getting on in years and were still childless. They had been praying for God’s intervention. As part of a roster of priests (I Chron. 24:1-6) Zechariah was called upon for priestly duty twice a year, for a week on each occasion. One day when he was on duty, an angel of God appeared to him with a special message. “God has heard your prayers,” the angel said to him. “Your wife Elizabeth will have a son, and you must name him John.” (Luke 1:13).
The angel proceeded to delineate the central purpose of John’s life and ministry. “He’ll be filled with the Holy Spirit from the moment he leaves his mother’s womb. He will turn many sons and daughters of Israel back to their God. He will herald God’s arrival in the style and strength of Elijah; soften the hearts of parents to children, and kindle devout understanding among hardened skeptics; he’ll get the people ready for God.” (Luke 1:16-17 The Message) John came as a forerunner of Jesus to serve as a mouthpiece of God to “Prepare the way for the Lord’s coming!” (See Luke 2:76-80)
In the continuing story of redemption these same duties become our duties as proclaimers of Jesus. We are today’s “John the Baptists.” We are today’s forerunners for Christ’s second coming. We too are called to proclaim this same message. To be announcers of God’s promised hope in Jesus and to prepare the way for the Lord’s coming. (Matthew 24:14)
“All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ …We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as through God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (II Cor. 5:18-21)
THAT is the marvelous story and hope of CHRISTmas and our message as forerunners of Jesus.
Be blessed my friend.
The Barnabas Group / Loads of Love
Luke 1:30-33; 68-70; I Thess. 4:13-18; 5:8-11; Isaiah 53:1-6