This year, from Lent through to the end of the summer term, we are looking at how as a church we might live with the priorities that Jesus taught.
In Lent we are looking at the story of John the Baptist, and after Easter looking at how we might become ‘Jesus shaped people’. There is more about that on pages 14 and 15 of this magazine.
John the Baptist, like Jesus, had a miraculous birth. His parents, Zechariah and Elizabeth, were beyond child bearing age and had had no children. So when the angel Gabriel appeared to Zechariah and told him that his prayers had been heard and Elizabeth was going to have a baby, he did not believe it. However, true to God’s word, Elizabeth did become pregnant and John was born. From the very beginning it was clear that John was going to be special and have an important job in preparing people to receive Jesus. He preached with power, so that people responded. He was not afraid to speak out against injustice or wrong doing, even though in the end it cost him his life.
John’s story teaches us a lot about God and challenges us about how to live. We see God’s faithfulness as John’s birth was part of a long term plan and the fulfilment of promises made in the Old Testament. We see God’s love and compassion; he chose Zechariah and Elizabeth who had longed for children, but had been disappointed. What joy they must have felt, when after giving up hope, they had their own child.
We are not all called to live John’s lifestyle; living in the wilderness, eating locusts and honey and avoiding wine and strong drink. But we have the opportunity to be filled with the Holy Spirit as he was. This was part of John’s message; that Jesus would baptise with the Holy Spirit and fire. Being filled with God’s Spirit is what can give us wisdom, strength and direction. If we want to receive the Holy Spirit all we have to do is turn to Christ and ask. I would love to talk with anyone who wants to know more.
Rev Bill Henderson