JOHN THE BAPTIST: MAN, PROPHET, SEER, TEACHER
3RD SUNDAY OF ADVENT
DEC. 12-13, 2020
Son of Zechariah (LORD remembers), an Abijah priest (temple incense burner) and Elizabeth (God’s covenant), a descendent of Aaron (High Priest); both old and in the Levites’ line. In Elizabeth’s sixth month of pregnancy, the Virgin Mary visited her kinswoman by blood or marriage (old Persian version: mother’s sister [metradelphe] instead of cousin). Elizabeth and John (LORD is gracious) in his mother’s womb were filled with the Holy Spirit by Mary’s (with child) presence. Lk 1:15,41.
About A.D. 29, “the word of God came to John, son of Zechariah in the wilderness.” Lk 3:2. John may have been educated by the Essenes (strict Jewish sect in a monastic community at Qumran). He wore austere clothing: camel’s hair garment with leather belt (traditional prophets garb like Elijah). He ate locusts and wild honey (strict adherence to Jewish purity laws). Mt 3:1-4. John was a Nazarite (Jew especially vowed to God’s service IAW Num 6). Lk 1:13-17, Mt 11:18.
John “went into all the region about the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.”Lk 3:3. John became “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: prepare the way of the LORD, make his paths straight.”Is 40:3-5. John believed God’s world judgment was imminent: prepare yourself, repent your sins, be baptized and produce the fruits of repentance.
He called for prayer, fasting, justice (not equality, but righteousness) and charity. Lk 3: 7-14. John ended nearly four hundred years of prophetic silence. His powerful preaching gained him wide influence. Many came to him from Jerusalem and the Judean countryside to be baptized by him in the river Jordan. He had many followers including: Apostles Andrew (Peter’s brother), John ( James’-the greater brother) Jn 1:40-42, Apollos in Acts 18:24-25 and twelve that Paul baptized and laid hands on in Acts 19:1-7.
The Precursor/Forerunner of Jesus. “Behold I send my messenger before your face, who shall prepare your way before you.” Mal 3:1, Mt 11:10-14, Lk 1:15-17. He is the messenger and the Prophet of the Most High who baptizes and identifies Jesus as the Messiah (Christ- anointed one) and not himself. Lk 1:76-79, 3:15-17, Mt 3:13-17, Jn 1:29-36. Jesus praises John: “Truly, I say to you, among those born of woman, there has arisen no one greater that John … he is Elijah who is to come.” Mt 11:11, Lk 7:24-30.
Martyred by King Herod Antipas before Jesus was crucified. Mk 6:14-29. John is the only saint who has a feast day for his birth (6/24) and for his passion/death by martyrdom (8/29). Patron saint of motorways.