About thirty years passed since chapter 2 and 3. His is significant because there is much about the life of the Lord Jesus that we do not know.
The writer of Ecclesiastes speaks of a time for everything, so too in the life of the human Christ! There was a time for growing up, a time where He would be influenced by His earthly parents.
God the Father in His infinite wisdom called two people to fulfil the role of parents in the Lord Jesus’s life.
God had not only chosen Mary to be the mother of the Christ, He also chose Joseph. He gave him the awesome responsibility of bringing up the child who is the King of all eternity.
What a big responsibility! Parenthood is always a big responsibility, some time ago I read to you an article of a mother who loved her dog more than her son- the dog showed ‘affection and gratitude’, so she said, where the son had to be disciplined and at times he did not appear to be appreciative and so on..
It is not the child’s responsibility to be all that a parent may wish them to be. In fact a child’s responsibility is just to be a child. It is the parent who must take responsibility for the child.
Children never have the choice; they cannot decide who their parents will be or where they will live.
They are vulnerable, innocents and it is the adult’s duty to nurture, provide and protect. Love and security is not the child’s obligation it is the adults. Parents are the unsung heroes. Joseph and Mary were given an awesome task by God, so too every parent.
Yes there is a time and a season for everything, the child Jesus has now grown up, many believe that He followed Joseph’s footsteps and became a carpenter.
It was now time for the next stage in the Father’s plan.
Matthew is keen for his readers to understand that all that has happened and will happen has been prophesied, his readers should not be surprised. I can imagine Matthew sitting around the camp fire saying: God the Father had a remarkable plan. So too for each one of us. God the Father has a remarkable plan for each of our lives; did you know that? Are you willing to allow that plan to pan out?
For 400 years the nation did not hear the voice of a prophet, there was a time of silence, sure they had the OT scriptures and they had their meetings, histories and traditions. There was a formalised religion, those who liked drawing up plans, rules and regulations had their heyday!
What is it with humans, we love to organise things, and we love to organise each other!
Have you noticed that there is an order of things; everything in its place and a place for everything. This is the way that we are made- even in our chaos there is an order!
For 400 years it was as if God was silent, sure the OT prophecies were there;
Isaiah 40:3 says: A voice of one calling: In the wilderness prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. but did they know what this was talking about?
Matthew with his extensive knowledge of the OT and first hand knowledge and experience of the Lord Jesus was able to say; “Guess what! John the Baptist is the one crying in the wilderness!”
They did not have a significant voice, until John the Baptist
When John the Baptist came there was revival! Here there are three things that impress me:
His message. Vs 1-2, 7-10. John’s preaching focused on REPENTANCE and the KINGDOM OF HEAVEN. The word repent means “to change one’s mind and act on that change.” (Wiersbe Volume 1 p 16) I believe that if we study the history of revivals, these things become evident.
- Prayer plays a vital role in any revival.
- There is a conviction of sin that leads to repentance.
- There is a strong desire for and acknowledgement of the KINGDOM OF GOD.
John was not satisfied with creating a guilt trip for his listeners or regrets and remorse. He wanted to see evidence of repentance; that is the fruit of a believer. Verse 8 “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance”. There had to be evidence of a changed heart and mind! It is no different for the Christian today.
I remember years ago been invited on the board of a Christian School. One of the parent members came to a meeting with a concern; she felt that some of the behaviour of one staff member was out of line; bad language, rudeness and gossip while at work. I knew this person really well and I also understood that for her to say something at a meeting took a lot of courage, she would have agonised over what she was to say and so on. She just saw something that needed to be addressed so in fear and trepidation she spoke up. She was polite and quietly spoken, choosing her words well.
I didn’t think that she was being unreasonable, I was surprised to hear the chairman’s response, he was angry accusing her of being judgemental, no one stood up for her, I too kept silent, “surely someone would say something positive her”” I thought to myself. She replied, “This is a Christian school and our staff should act like Christians, shouldn’t they?” Again there was no support from the other members of the group. The chairman expressed his disappointment at her. “Christians are fallible, they make mistakes most of the Christian I know don’t act like Christians, why should it be any different for the school?” I looked around at the group; there were reps from all walks of life some highly respected and mature members of the Christian community. And not a one spoke up! I didn’t say anything either, I wanted to, but didn’t want to get into a verbal battle so early in my relationship with the group. Her comments were dismissed and the chairman went on with the business of the meeting. I could not get over the fact that a member my congregation and friend was humiliated for sharing her convictions. The meeting continued and we were now at the end of general business, it was time to go home. As the meeting was about to close, I couldn’t restrain myself any longer, when the chairman asked; “is there anything else that we should discuss,” I asked a question, that doubled up as a statement.
I shared the fact that I was appreciative of being a member of the board and as a member I wanted something clarified; “from the discussion earlier are you saying that it is wrong for us to except Christians to act like Christians?” To this question the reply was similar to the earlier, then I said, “perhaps you are mixing with the wrong crowd. It is not inappropriate to expect Christians to act like Christians.”
As God’s people we should aim high, some people are aiming at nothing and doing a good job at hitting it!
John the Baptist was adamant, repentance produces fruit of a changed life.
Kingdom living not only looks at the kingdom of God as something that is coming- it impacts the life we live in the here and now! I do not believe that we should be satisfied with the mediocrity of sin in our lives! Nor should we rely on others for our Christian walk and growth. We must take responsibility for who we are and what we do.
John the Baptist spoke with authority!
In Christ Jesus we have authority; we do not have to be pushed around by sin or the sin of others. Our trust is in God and if we stand firm in that conviction, God will never let us down.
Daniel stood strong in his convictions. When others were bowing down to the tyranny of fear and sin he stood firm in his faith. It was God who closed the lion’s mouths in the lion’s den! The Bible says that is we trust in Him we will never be disappointed. Romans 10:11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” 1 Peter 2:6 for in Scripture it says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”
We have the authority of the Word of God.
We have the authority as a child of God.
We have a go between the Lord Jesus who is our authority.
We have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
John the Baptist was faithful.
Spurgeon said of John the Baptist; “the first Baptist minister to lose his head over dancing.” Of all men in history this is what the Lord Jesus said about John the Baptist: Matthew 11:11 “Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”
Characteristics of John the Baptist:
- powerful preaching
- burning desire to serve God
A great example for us to follow, yet the Lord Jesus said that “whoever is the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” There is wonderful hope for us all. As we seek to trust God the Father with all our hearts and minds!