What are you going to be when you grow up?

Lenten Devotions

A Walk through the Book of Luke

February 27, 2023

Luke 1:57-66

The Birth of John the Baptist

“What are you going to be when you grow up?”

When I grow up, I want to be a fireman. I want to be a doctor. I want to be an astronaut. These are all common answers from a youngster who, when they are asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

When I was young, I dreamt of being a teacher. Little did I know what God had in mind for me in that vocation. As a result, my first 28 years in the workforce were in the retail food industry.

I worked in several supermarkets over the years. I was also a salesman for a food distributor and was promoted to sales manager after a year. All of these retail jobs kept me wanting more. I always felt that I could or should be doing more.

It wasn’t until 1992 when I began teaching a middle school Bible class at my church, that God lifted the veil from my eyes and heart and gave me the direction I craved. God wanted me to teach students about Him and His love for mankind. So that began my new career as a youth minister, teaching students about God and His promises.

For John (The Baptist), it was different. The angel Gabriel had already come to his father before he was born and told him how John would be a part of God’s plan of salvation.

**************************The Point************************

Take a moment to read the passage about John’s birth. We’ll be focusing in on two points. John’s name and what he (John) would be when he grew up.

“Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. And her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. And on the eighth day, they came to circumcise the child. And they would have called him Zechariah after his father, but his mother answered, “No; he shall be called John.” And they said to her, “None of your relatives is called by this name.” And they made signs to his father, inquiring what he wanted him to be called. And he asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” And they all wondered. And immediately his mouth was opened, and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God. And fear came on all their neighbors. And all these things were talked about through all the hill country of Judea, and all who heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, “What then will this child be?” For the hand of the Lord was with him.”

Both Zechariah and Elizabeth knew what their son’s name was to be. The angel Gabriel had directly told Zechariah when he came to him in the temple. And, we know that Elizabeth had been filled with the Holy Spirit when Mary had come to visit.

Neighbors and relatives of Elizabeth and Zechariah could not understand why they would call their son John when they had no relative with this name. But when they asked Zechariah what the child’s name would be, he wrote on a tablet, “His name is John.”

The kicker was that after writing this on a tablet, Zechariah suddenly started to speak after nine months of silence. The angel told them this small part of God’s plan, and they listened.

Interestingly, everyone who heard about how John had been named realized this was no ordinary child. So they wondered, “What then is this child going to be?”

Once again, you and I have the blessing of time, knowledge, and the Gospels. We already know what this child will be. In Luke 1:13-17, the angel Gabriel was very specific with instructions on what to expect from their child, John.

“But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will [rejoice at his birth, for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and 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, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.”

John had a specific part in God’s plan of salvation. He would prepare the way for Jesus, God’s Son, the Savior of the world. First, John would preach repentance and baptize with water. But soon, Jesus would come and baptize with the Holy Spirit.

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