The conception and birth of John the Baptist was an astounding miracle. His mother Elizabeth was barren and his father Zechariah was an old man. And yet, nothing is impossible with God. John was conceived for one purpose, to herald the coming of the Messiah. He lived out his calling with great energy, preparing the way of the Lord by preaching a renunciation of sin.
In the days of Herod, King of Judea,
there was a priest named Zechariah
of the priestly division of Abijah;
his wife was from the daughters of Aaron,
and her name was Elizabeth.
Both were righteous in the eyes of God,
observing all the commandments
and ordinances of the Lord blamelessly.
But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren
and both were advanced in years.
Once when he was serving
as priest in his division’s turn before God,
according to the practice of the priestly service,
he was chosen by lot
to enter the sanctuary of the Lord to burn incense.
Then, when the whole assembly of the people was praying outside
at the hour of the incense offering,
the angel of the Lord appeared to him,
standing at the right of the altar of incense.
Zechariah was troubled by what he saw, and fear came upon him.
But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah,
because your prayer has been heard.
Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son,
and you shall name him John.
And you will have joy and gladness,
and many will rejoice at his birth,
for he will be great in the sight of the Lord.
John will drink neither wine nor strong drink.
He will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb,
and he will turn many of the children of Israel
to the Lord their God.
He will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah
to turn their hearts toward their children
and the disobedient to the understanding of the righteous,
to prepare a people fit for the Lord.”
I wonder. How many of us have a tangible sense of our own calling as followers of Jesus? Are we courageous in our faith like John or do we just go through the motions, leaving to others the hard and sometimes dangerous work of witnessing the gospel?
What would the Baptist think of our comfortable lifestyle and the ease with which we compromise our beliefs in an attempting to avoid “offending” others by sharing the truth that is Jesus Christ?
John lived out his calling. Do we?