Studied the announcement and birth of John the Baptist at a Bible study this past Sunday. Pastor made this insightful point: John the Baptist holds a unique position in all of Christianity. He is literally a pivotal figure. He is the last of the Prophets, forth-telling the coming of the Messiah. He is also the first Apostle declaring: “Behold the lamb!” when Christ presents himself for Baptism.
We also explored the angel Gabriel’s appearance to Zachariah in the Temple at Jerusalem announcing John’s conception and birth. Put yourself in Zachariah’s shoes. He is alone in the Holy place in order to burn incense as part of his prayers. Suddenly, an angel is standing beside him. The angel tells Zachariah, a man in his sixties, that his wife will bear him a son, but no ordinary son. Zachariah is living in a fallen nation. His son will reconcile Israel with the Lord. His son will have the power of Elijah and “make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” Luke 1:11-17. What is Zachariah’s response?
He doubts; a very human thing to do. Rather boldly, he asks for some sort of proof. As proof, the angel simply tells him who he is: “I am Gabriel.” That was probably enough for Zachariah. He would know exactly who Gabriel was. As my Pastor pointed out, if he was not already kneeling, he most definitely fell to the floor now. Gabriel is literally the Lord’s right hand man–er–angel. He is one of two throne angels (the other being Michael) standing at the throne of the Lord. As further poof, Gabriel took away his power of speech. (Compare this priest of the Lord’s reaction to that of Mary. The men just don’t seem to get it, do they?).
What better way to prepare for Christmas, than study the forerunner of Christ?