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This is the teaching site of the West Side church of Christ in Fort Worth, TX. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials were written and prepared by Stan Cox

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Sermon: Elijah and John the Baptist

Image Two great men, Elijah and John the Baptist are compared (cf. Malachi 4:5-6), their…

* Personality and Appearance
* Ministry
* Persecution
* Personal Greatness

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Mining the Scriptures: Luke 1:18-25

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Zacharias and Elizabeth were childless and older (1:18), but had received a promise from the angel Gabriel that they would have a son who would “make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (1:17). This child was named John (John the Baptist).

Zacharias, incredulous, asked for a sign, showing a lack of faith in the angel’s promise. The sign was punishment for his unbelief, he was struck mute until the promise was fulfilled.

God fulfilled his promise to Zacharias and Elizabeth (as He is always just and faithful to do), and Elizabeth conceived. She hid herself for the first 5 months of her pregnancy, and her words of rejoicing are interesting, saying that the Lord had taken “away my reproach among people” (25). To be barren was a great burden and shame for her. How wonderful for her to be granted a son with such an important part to play in God’s great scheme of redemption for mankind (cf. Luke 7:28).

Mining the Scriptures: Luke 1:14-17

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When the angel promised Zacharias and Elizabeth they would have a child, God’s messenger promised that the boy would grow to be a great man.

The angel said that John would be a austere man, and an inspired preacher. His efforts, it was said, would “turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God” (16).

John’s ministry would be one of preparation, the prophesied forerunner of the Christ. It would be his purpose to “make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (vs. 17).

The prophet Malachi spoke of him, “Behold, I send My messenger, and he will prepare the way before Me” (3:1) His ministry would portend the advent of the Messiah, “Behold, He is coming,’ says the Lord of hosts’” (3:1).

Jesus himself referred to John and his ministry in Matthew 11. Of John he said, “But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I say to you, and more than a prophet” … “And if you are willing to receive it, he is Elijah who is to come” (vss. 9,14).

God is faithful, and all these glad tidings to the childless couple came true in every detail, to His glory.

Mining the Scriptures: Luke 1:5-13

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Luke’s gospel does not begin with the promise of Jesus’ birth, but that of John the Baptist.

Zacharias, a priest who ministered in the temple during the days of Herod the Great, was visited by an angel of God with the news that he and his wife would have John as their son.

Zacharias and Elizabeth (the cousin of Mary, Jesus’ mother, cf. vs. 36), had no child. Elizabeth was barren, and they were an elderly couple. Regardless, God made the promise to give them a son. Later, when Mary questioned the possibility of her, as a virgin, conceiving a child, Elizabeth’s pregnancy was given as a sign that, “with God nothing will be impossible” (cf. vs. 34-37).

John the Baptist was a great man who served as the forerunner of Jesus Christ. He was the object of prophecy (Isaiah 40:3; Malachi 4:5-6), and received the highest praise from Jesus Himself, “Assuredly, I say unto you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist” (Matthew 11:11).

John the Baptist’s promised birth was another thread in the tapestry of God’s great scheme of redemption.

Mining the Scriptures: Mark 1:14-15

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Our text reveals the fulfillment of Malachi 4:5-6, which prophesied the coming of Elijah in preparation for Messiah. John’s preparatory work was finished, as signified by his imprisonment, and now Jesus of Nazareth began his ministry, “preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God.”

John’s imprisonment by Herod led to his death by beheading (as seen in Mark 6:14-29). John himself foretold the transition in essence when he said in John 3:30, “He must increase, but I must decrease.”

Jesus ministry and teaching prefaced his kingdom, established after his death and resurrection (cf. Acts 2). At this time, he said, “the kingdom of God is at hand.”

There is a peculiar false doctrine that contends Jesus’ teaching in such places as Matthew 5-7 was not the gospel of the kingdom, rather a simple explanation of old covenant law. This passage shows the view to be incorrect. Jesus preached His own gospel, and His words must be heeded. As the Hebrew writer stated, “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son…” (Hebrews 2:1-2a).

Mining the Scriptures: Mark 1:1-8

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Mark 1:1-8

Mark begins his gospel with quotes from Malachi (3:1) and Isaiah (40:3), describing a messenger sent by God to prepare the world for the coming Messiah. Mark identifies that messenger as John the Baptist, who came “preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.”

When an angel announced to John’s father Zacharias the impending birth of his son, he said he would “go before Him [the Christ] in the spirit and power of Elijah” (Luke 1:17).

Jesus extended high praise to John for his person and ministry saying, “among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist,” and, “…he is Elijah who is to come, (a reference to Malachi 4:5) (Luke 1:11,14).

John’s message was preparatory to the Messiah’s coming. One, John said, “whose sandal strap I am not worthy to stoop down and loose” (vs. 7). Where John baptized with (in) water, the Messiah would baptize with (in) the Holy Spirit, a reference to His divine nature. When the apostles received that baptism on Pentecost, Peter said it had come from the Christ (Acts 2:33).

Mining The Scriptures: Luke 3:1-6

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Luke 3:1-6

This text of scripture reveals both the announcement of John the Baptist’s ministry, and an explanation of the prophecies concerning him.

The date is explicitly stated—the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius.

The location is clearly given—John was in the Judean wilderness, a hostile and desolate land.

The divine nature of the calling is proclaimed—“the word of God came to John.”

The message was revealed—John preached a “baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.”

The purpose of John’s ministry is given—to “prepare the way of the Lord.”

The coming of Elijah’s spirit once again, in preparation for the fulfillment of all things; John’s ministry signified that the most important events in man’s history were imminent. The significance of his ministry is seen in the final words of the text, “And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”

John the Baptist

Matthew, chapter 3, describes the ministry of John the Baptist, who was called to prepare the way for the coming Messiah.

In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying:

“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
“Prepare the way of the LORD;
Make His paths straight.”

(Matthew 3:1-3)

John must have been quite a sight, coming out of the wilderness, wearing camel’s hair clothing, with a leather belt and a diet of locusts and wild honey.

Continue reading » John the Baptist