The angel appearls to Zechariah
In Judea there was another woman who encountered an angel just as Mary, Jesus' mother did. Her name was Elizabeth. Elizabeth had met the angel six months before Mary received the angel's message. Her husband, Zechariah was the priest who served God in the temple.
One day when Zechariah was in the temple, the angel Gabriel appeared to him. The angel told him;
"Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John. He will be a jo and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth. Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God"(Luke 1:13-16).
After Zechariah heard this news, his heart pounded in his chest. Because Zechariah and Elizabeth had no children, it was the message that they had long waited for. Zechariah, now already an old man, couldn't believe it. Zechariah told the angel,
"How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years"(Luke 1:18).
Then the angel rebuked Zechariah's doubt.
"I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tel you this good news. and now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at theri proper time"(Luke 1:19, 20).
Zechariah became dumb.
Zechariah became dumb because he didn't believe the angel's message. Even though he repented for his mistake, until the birth of the child, he lived as a mute. How surprised his neighbors and family must have been to see that he could only write or gesture!
At last the old woman, Elizabeth, bore a child. Even though she was old, she delivered a precious child who would receive a message from God.
It is a wonderful thing, isn't it? The child was a son just like the angel's had said. Neighbors and relatives came together as soon as they heard the news, and praised God's grace. After eight days, they gave the baby a name. Relatives thought that it would be good for the baby to be named Zechariah after his father. At that time it was the custom for a child to be named after their grandfather or father or another relative. But Elizabeth opposed it.
“No. This child must be named John. The angel gave the name John clearly.”
“There is no one who had such a name among our relatives.”
So her relatives thought it bad and went to Zechariah. Zechariah asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” At that moment, Zechariah's mouth was opened and he could speak freely. Now, what do you think Zechariah did first? Of course he praised God. Everyone was surprised at the strange event and feared God.
After that, Zechariah was full of the Holy Spirit and foretold about the things John was destined to do.
"And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace"(Luke 1:76-79).
And everyone watched John grow up.
The voice crying in the wilderness.
“Have you ever heard the word of the prophet crying in the wilderness?”
This news began to be heard here and there in Israel. The story of the prophet penetrated each person's minds, and men who heard the news told it to their neighbors, relatives and friends upon returning home. In a moment the news had spread over all of Israel.
They spoke of the prophet John, the son of Zechariah. If men were touched and repented their sins, John took them to the Jordan River and baptized them there. So people called him John the Baptist.
Baptism is a ceremony that men take part in when they want to become a member of the church. It means that man will bury his sins in the water and is reborn as a child of God. Nowadays, pastors do it for people would like to join the church.
Many people who heard John's message thought that this man was surely the Messiah that they had long awaited.
"I am the voice of one calling in the desert, 'Make straight the way for the Lord....He is the one who comes after me, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worth to untie"(John 1:23-27).
After that, people became ready to meet the Messiah, the Son of God who would come to this world just like John said.
Jesus was baptized
The news of John spread like wildfire. Many people came to hear his message. Jesus realized that His time had come. So Jesus stopped his work as a carpenter and said goodbye to His mother, and He went to the Jordan alone. Many Jews had gathered and were listening to John's sermon. He was preaching in a garment made of camel's hair, and a leather girdle around his waist.
When John saw Jesus coming, even though His appearance was shabby, John recognized him as the Son of God.
Jesus! The man who he had been waiting for all this time! John shouted with excitement and joy.
"Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, 'A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me'(John 1:29, 30).
Then Jesus approached John quietly and asked to be baptized.
John was surprised and rejected to baptize Him.
"I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?"(Matthew 3:14).
Then Jesus said.
"Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness"(Matthew 3:15).
Jesus persuaded him and was baptized.
Baptism is a ceremony through which we can get back to the eternal life that was lost in Eden. We must repent of our sins that we have committed in our lives and we can be born again as children of God. So why was Jesus baptized? Jesus did so as an example for us, to teach what we ought to do.
Baptism is meaning to repent our sins and
to be born again as the children of God.
When Jesus was baptized and came up from the water, the heavens were opened and the Holy Spirit descended as a dove. And the voice of God was heard.
"This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased"(Matthew 3:17).
Only John heard the voice clearly in the crowd. “Oh! Now my work is finished, at last the day which I've been waiting for came today.” John the Baptist thought to himself and was glad. Jesus knew that His new life began after He was baptized. And He realized that His work was very important?especially when God's voice acknowledged him as the Son of God.
Temptation at the wilderness
After being baptized, Jesus went to the desert. The wilderness is a very harsh place, where no trees and men live.
Why did Jesus go to the wilderness?
He went there to meditate on how to accomplish His mission, and to ask for God's power for His mission. Jesus spent forty days and nights without food, so he was so hungry and weak. Just then Satan came along to tempt him. Jesus, the Savior of the world, was perfect. But Satan knew that He would lose the qualification of the Messiah if He would commit a sin even once. Satan came near Jesus when Jesus was very tired after fasting and prayer. He thought that it was a golden opportunity.
Satan thought that Jesus would be deceived by his temptation because He was hungry. It seemed that Satan could outsmart Jesus.
Satan appeared before Jesus as an angel and began to tempt Jesus by talking about food. Satan tempted Jesus in three different ways. How did Jesus deal with this?
The first test: (with stones on the ground around them)
Satan: “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread”(Matthew 4:3).
Jesus' answer was: “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God”(Matthew 4:4).
The second test: (the holy temple, on the pinnacle of the temple)
Satan: “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written 'He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone”(Matthew 4:6).
Jesus' answer was: “It is also written: Do not put the Lord your God to the test”(Matthew 4:7).
The third test: (on a very high mountain, showing Him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them)
Satan: “I will give you all this, if you will bow down and worship me”(Matthew 4:9).
Jesus' answer was: “Get away from me, Satan! For it is written: Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only”(Matthew 4:10).
Jesus considered serving God the most important thing in the world. It didn't matter to Jesus whether He held a high position or became rich. He knew that He would die on the cross for the salvation of human beings. If Jesus had yielded to Satan's temptation, He wouldn’t have to endure such suffering and could live an easy, simple life.
Did Jesus object to God's will in that situation? No. Jesus endured Satan's temptation by thinking about His mission that God had given Him. We must not forget that Satan is tempting us just as he tempted Jesus.
Satan will try to entrap us, to entice us not to serve Jesus. But we can fight bravely and win in Jesus. For Jesus is with us all the time. And that is not all. If we serve God at first, our hearts and minds will become like the heart and mind of Jesus. As if Jesus won, we by His power and help can win!
Thank you for giving us the strength to win in this world.
Let me rely upon You everyday and overcome Satan.
I pray in Jesus' name. Amen.