Now the time had come for Elizabeth to give birth, and she had a son. 58 Then her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her his great mercy, and they rejoiced with her.
59 When they came to circumcise the child on the eighth day, they were going to name him Zechariah, after his father. 60 But his mother responded, “No. He will be called John.”
61 Then they said to her, “None of your relatives has that name.” 62 So they motioned to his father to find out what he wanted him to be called. 63 He asked for a writing tablet and wrote: “His name is John.” And they were all amazed. 64 Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue set free, and he began to speak, praising God. 65 Fear came on all those who lived around them, and all these things were being talked about throughout the hill country of Judea. 66 All who heard about him took it to heart, saying, ‘What then will this child become?’ For, indeed, the Lord’s hand was with him.
— Luke 1:57-66
See, I am going to send my messenger, and he will clear the way before me. Then the Lord you seek will suddenly come to his temple, the Messenger of the covenant you delight in—see, he is coming,’ says the Lord of Armies.
— Malachi 3:1
Look, I am going to send you the prophet Elijah before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes. 6 And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers. Otherwise, I will come and strike the land with a curse.”
— Malachi 4:5-6

Monday, December 18

Messiah Preceded by a Messenger

Scripture Reading: Luke 1: 57-66; Malachi 3:1, 4:5-6

There are few things more exciting than a pregnancy announcement. New life is always such a miracle; especially when the couple announcing have been trying for years. Can you imagine the celebration and shock at hearing that Elizabeth and Zachariah were expecting? Both Elizabeth and Zachariah were “well along in years” which is Bible talk for really old to be having children. But who else would God decide to carry the messenger of the coming Messiah than two geriatrics? Then again, God chose a virgin girl to carry the Savior of the world. The Messiah the people had been hoping for would not come in the way they had expected, and neither would His messenger.

John’s arrival was the fulfillment of a prophecy. He was the Messenger who was to “clear the way for the Lord”. The Hebrew meaning of the name John is “Jehovah has been gracious: has shown favor”. And what incredible favor John came to proclaim, that the Creator of the Universe was coming to seek and save the lost and that the hope of our salvation would soon be realized in flesh and blood. John would later say, “I baptize with water for repentance but the One who is coming after me is more powerful than I. I am not worthy to remove His sandals. He Himself will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” Matthew 3:11.

Yes, people were in shock and awed at John’s arrival: a miracle pregnancy, Zachariah becoming mute and then able to speak again. Yes, John’s arrival was something quite spectacular, but how much greater would be the one John was sent to proclaim. This Christmas season, recognize that like John, you too are sent by God to point people to the Messiah.


Reflection Questions:

 “…like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” – C.S. Lewis. 

  1. We often settle for less – like the messenger instead of the Messiah. What have you chosen instead of Christ’s best for you?
  2. Ponder Jesus’ power and holiness - that like John, we are not worthy of removing his sandals. Humble yourself before the Messiah. Who is someone God might be sending you as His 'messenger' to this Christmas season? What are some ways you can point them to Jesus?