John the Baptist was the subject of this evening’s Heck Advent.
There is so much to say about this prophet. And there are a good number of passages of Scripture to read as well (Isa 40:3-5; Luke 1:5-25; Matt 3:1-10; John 1:19-34; Matt 14:1-12).
We began with reading Isaiah 40:3-5, which prophecies John the Baptist’s coming as one who would prepare the way of the Lord. It was important that we pointed out he was part of God’s prophetic ground-laying for the coming of the Messiah and we wanted our boys to see the role he would play in the coming of our Lord.
We would note later that, just like Jesus, the people did not really recognize his significance when he did arrive and begin preaching repentance. And this confused and overlooked arrival was no different than Jesus’ coming. Jesus also came without many knowing of His arrival and without many ever accepting His person.
We also wanted to remind our boys that Isaiah wasn’t the only one who spoke of John the Baptist’s arrival. The angel Gabriel appeared to a barren Elizabeth to let her know that she would conceive of a son with her husband Zechariah, who was a priest. Her barrenness had no doubt carried the stigma of divine cursing and public shame but this promise of a son to come would change all of that.
Fast-forward to John the Baptist’s ministry.
As prophesied, he came to blaze the trail for the Messiah. He came preaching repentance and baptizing people in the Jordan River. The most notable object of his ministry of baptism was Jesus himself. And I can understand John’s hesitancy to baptize the Messiah. If there was ever a time to be an Anabaptist, it would have been then, right?
The details of John’s life are very interesting, but we cannot overestimate his significance. John the Baptist was a prophetic trailblazer sent by God to tell people that Jesus had come. He was sent to warn people of a time coming when their souls would be measured. He was called to inform people of their need to repent from sin. And people not only were confused about him, but many rejected him. And because they failed to heed his warnings, they failed to recognize the significance of Jesus’ own arrival.
Activity – I found a website that creates PowerPoint template games. I remember using this about 5 years ago when I was teaching in a Christian school and looking for games to play in class to help my students review. I created a “John the Baptist” trivia game. We had a contest between Jackson and Josiah. Andrea read the questions, Ethan spun the wheel for point values and I kept time and scores.
The final score: Jackson 405, Josiah 365.