Day 23

Birth of John the Baptist

Luke 1:5-25, Luke 1:57-80, 1 Samuel 2:1-2

BY Guest Writer

Although John the Baptist was Jesus’s second cousin and likely His friend from childhood on (he did gymnastics in utero when Jesus showed up, according to Luke 1:41), they were very different people. While Jesus grew up in Nazareth with a gaggle of brothers and sisters, John appears to have been an only child, and his elderly parents likely died while he was still young. As a grown man, Jesus conversed with rabbis and celebrated religious festivals, while John stayed out in the wilderness. By the time Jesus’s ministry had begun, John had taken to wearing animal skins, eating bugs and honey, and preaching fiery sermons that made audiences squirm. Yet this was the man God used to prepare the way for His Son’s arrival.

Rationally speaking, it would’ve made sense for Jesus to avoid John the Baptist. Hanging out with a smelly fanatic could definitely have harmed His reputation. But of course, our compassionate Savior did just the opposite. Not only did He slip off His sandals and wade into the muddy waters of the Jordan so that John could baptize Him (Matthew 3:13–14)—thereby endorsing His hairy hermit of a cousin’s ministry—but Jesus praised John immediately after His cousin publicly doubted Him:

Now when John heard in prison what the Christ was doing, he sent a message through his disciples and asked him, “Are you the one who is to come,
or should we expect someone else?” (Matthew 11:2–3).

In other words, “Are You really the Messiah? I mean, I thought You were supposed to come swinging a winnowing fork and spewing fire. But You’re out there spending time with drunks and prostitutes, and telling people to love their enemies” (definitely, my paraphrase).

Most friendships would’ve been irreparably damaged by such blatant disregard. However, instead of condemning John, the Lamb of God gently propped up His dear friend’s flagging faith by reminding him that He was fulfilling Isaiah’s prophecies (vv.4–6). Then Jesus picked up a megaphone and bellowed a hearty “Johnny B” cheer:

As these men were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swaying in the wind? What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothes? See, those who wear soft clothes are in royal palaces. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written:

See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you;
he will prepare your way before you.

“Truly I tell you, among those born of women no one greater than John the Baptist has appeared, but the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he” (vv.7–11).

This Advent season, may we not only be encouraged by the miraculous fact that Immanuel came but also that He stays. Even on our worst days, when our hearts fail and our faith wanes, Jesus is the one who sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24).

Lisa Harper is a master storyteller with a masters of Theological Studies from Covenant Seminary. She’s lauded as an engaging, hilarious communicator as well as an authentic and substantive Bible teacher. She’s been in vocational ministry for 30 years and has written 15 books (her latest being The Sacrament of Happy: What a Smiling God Brings to a Wounded World) and Bible study curriculums but says her greatest accomplishment by far is that of becoming Missy’s (her adopted daughter from Haiti) mama! They live on a hilly farmette south of Nashville, Tennessee, where they enjoy eating copious amounts of chips, queso, and guacamole.

Post Comments (36)

36 thoughts on "Birth of John the Baptist"

  1. Sarah Jenkins says:

    Lk 1:69 “He has raised up a horn of salvation…” The horn is a symbol of strength and courage, symbolizing delivarance according to Thayer’s Greek Lexicon.

  2. Alice Carroll says:

    Late night thought:
    1Hannah prayed:

    My heart rejoices in the Lord;
    my horn is lifted up by the Lord.
    My mouth boasts over my enemies,
    because I rejoice in Your salvation.
    2There is no one holy like the Lord.
    There is no one besides You!
    And there is no rock like our God.

    I always thought I would keep this to say when I was pregnant like Hannah. But that restricts what God does to something (amazing) but physical. So I want to proclaim the greatness of our God, who saves us eternally and gives us new life. That trumps anything. Have a Christmas full of awesomeness, my sisters.

  3. Candy Dalton says:

    Jesus not only came, but He stayed. He stays with us. He never leaves us. We are never alone, no matter how alone we feel. He came for you and He stays for you. ❤️

  4. Emily J says:

    This year has been an emotional roller coaster for me, full of many, many changes. I have grown closer to God, but for whatever reason I’m now doubting His goodness and faithfulness in my own life. It feels as if He is answering everyone’s prayers but my own. In this Christmas season, I so want to be filled with hope but am so struggling to find it. I don’t want to doubt God, but I can’t seem to help it right now. Satan is attacking me by playing into all of my insecurities, and I’ve lost the joy I usually have during Advent. Prayers would be appreciated that Jesus would help me find that joy and hope in Him alone, once more.

  5. Dorothy says:

    Churchmouse once again you have wowed me. AimeeD how about all the time not just at Christmas. LizzieD85 I agree with you about the military.
    Ladies I leave you today with what my t-shirt says “The magic of Christmas is not in the presents but in His presence.”

  6. Shasta Moczulski says:

    Jordan L and Janet C, I also battled anxiety and depression for many years. The book The Anxious Christian by Rhett Smith was a tremendous help to me and may bless you as well. God has a plan specifically for you and your exact chemical makeup to carry out the work he ordained for you since the beginning of time; your anxiety may very well be a gift from God to advance the Kingdom of King Jesus. Yes, this seems like a paradox, but the Lord often does great things through the most unlikely of circumstances. May you be blessed abundantly in this new year as you draw closer to the one true Comforter.

  7. Jennifer Martin says:


  8. Lizzieb85 says:

    As I read John’s conception story this morning I was thinking about how he died: beheaded at the cruel & vindictive whim of a queen & her daughter, his head served on a platter at a big party. Oh, reading that Elizabeth was probably dead by then sounds like a great mercy!
    I thought of the young man a few weeks ago who went to a forbidden island to preach the good news to an untouched people. He was killed by those people, his body left on the beach. The comments I read & heard about him being a stupid idiot to go there were saddening. If he was truly convicted by the Spirit to go, there is nothing greater he could have done with his life!
    I have young twin boys for whom I prayed for like Hannah did for Samuel. A while ago my husband asked me if I would let them join the military. My response was one I heard from another mom: I would rather my children be somewhere considered dangerous & in God’s will, than home safe outside of His will.
    Merry Christmas, ladies! My prayer is that we all seek His will for our lives & follow Him, trusting that He is with us, regardless of what the situation appears to be.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *