“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, NIV84)
Can you imagine being Zechariah at that moment in time? The Lord had broken your 9 months of silence, and on the day of your son’s birth He allowed you to speak. But not just speak — prophesy. It was the first time Zechariah had spoken in 9 months, and he spoke the most amazing prophetic words about what the purpose of his son’s life was going to be. John would be the “prophet of the Most High.” He would be the forerunner of the long-awaited Messiah. He would prepare the people for His coming by preparing their hearts to receive Him properly. He would convict people of their sin, but also turn their hearts toward their Savior. He would introduce the people of God to the heart of God. He would introduce the people of God to the “tender mercy” of God. He would reveal to those living in darkness, or on the path of death and destruction, the light necessary to move their lives to light, life, salvation and peace. Can you imagine Zechariah trying to absorb for himself the meaning of the prophetic words he was speaking over his own son. Amazing!
I don’t know whether Zechariah lived long enough to see the fulfillment of all that he said about his son, but I am blessed to know that it all became true. God faithfully worked through the life of John the Baptist to preach a convicting message of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. God powerfully worked through John’s life to prepare the way for the coming of God’s Son and our Savior Jesus Christ. I am absolutely humbled when I contemplate the level of control God has to His plan. Like Martha, I tend to “worry and get bothered about so many things” when the only thing I really need to do is trust in the God who has called me by name and made me His child.
God’s plan for our lives may not be as specific as John’s, but that doesn’t mean He doesn’t have one. Let’s praise our God for sending pastors and teachers into our lives who faithfully share the message of God. For if not for them, we would still be lost in the darkness of death.