16 Birth of John the Baptist

UNIT #: 
IV
Lesson Theme: 
God answers prayers of the faithul at the right time
Aim: 

To understand that God always answer the prayer of the faithful at His time or at the right time.  

Bible Passage: 

  Luke 1:5-23

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

The Birth of John the Baptist Foretold

In the days of King Herod of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly order of Abijah. His wife was a descendant of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. Both of them were righteous before God, living blamelessly according to all the commandments and regulations of the Lord. But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were getting on in years.

Once when he was serving as priest before God and his section was on duty, he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and offer incense. 10 Now at the time of the incense offering, the whole assembly of the people was praying outside. 11 Then there appeared to him an angel of the Lord, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was terrified; and fear overwhelmed him. 13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John. 14 You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He must never drink wine or strong drink; even before his birth he will be filled with the Holy Spirit. 16 He will turn many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 With the spirit and power of Elijah he will go before him, to turn the hearts of parents to their children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” 18 Zechariah said to the angel, “How will I know that this is so? For I am an old man, and my wife is getting on in years.” 19 The angel replied, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. 20 But now, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time, you will become mute, unable to speak, until the day these things occur.”

21 Meanwhile the people were waiting for Zechariah, and wondered at his delay in the sanctuary. 22 When he did come out, he could not speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision in the sanctuary. He kept motioning to them and remained unable to speak. 23 When his time of service was ended, he went to his home.

Teacher’s Preparation: 

Gospel of Luke was written by a gentile Physician named Luke. Luke was also a close companion to Paul.  According to tradition Luke wrote the Gospel from the view point of Mary, mother of Jesus.  Luke might have got first hand information from Mary, mother of Jesus and brothers and sisters of Jesus, including James.  Only Luke  gives the detailed information about the birth of John the Baptist and Jesus himself and he also gave us more miracles performed by Jesus and more parables Jesus said than in any other Gospel.   

God gave a promise to David in Psalms 89:34-37(NRSV).  "I will not violate my covenant, or alter the word that went forth from my lips.  Once and for all I have sworn by my holiness I will not lie to David.  His line shall continue forever, and his throne endure before me like the sun.  It shall be established forever like the moon, an enduring witness in the skies." Selah.

This promise of God starts its fulfillment process when God answers the prayer of Zechariah and Elizabeth and gives them a son named Yohanan (John).  The name Zechariah means "God remembers" and that of the name Elizabeth means "His oath".  The son born to them was Yohannan, the name means "Jehovah has been gracious", we know him as John the Baptist, the holy man God send to earth to prepare the way for Jesus His only begotten Son. 

In our human years it took four hundred years to full fill this covenant, but to God it is only a very little time and He brought together everything needed to full fill the covenant at His time, the right time. 

 

 

34 

Main Ideas: 

In todays lesson we learn about prayer and how God answers them.  God answers prayer mainly in three ways.  First, immediately, Second, wait a while, then God answers, thirdly, no answer meaning God thinks you do not need it or it is better for you not to have it, because He loves you.  But there is also a fourth way, that is for the faithful and obedient, and that is at God's time.  The best examples are, God promised Abraham a son, but Abraham had to wait till he got to the age of ninety nine.  The next best example, we are going to learn today,  is the faithful couple who had to wait till they were old, but not to the age of ninety nine.  That faithful couple is Zechariah and Elizabeth.  This Story is fully told only in the Gospel of Luke.

Gospel of Luke was written by a gentile Physician or a Doctor named Luke.  Only in the Gospel of Luke we see the detailed information regarding birth of John the Baptist and Jesus himself.

During the time Herod ruled Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly order of Abijah.  Zechariah's wife was Elizabeth, she was a descendant of Aaron.  The name Zechariah means "God remembers" and the name Elizabeth means "His oath".  Zechariah and Elizabeth lived a life pleasing to God, however they did not have any children.  They always prayed to God for a son.  They were getting old and both of them were sad that they had no children.  

Priests served in the Temple according to their turn.  As there were many priests, they were given certain number of days to serve in the Temple.  When Zechariah's time came to serve, he went to the Temple to serve.  Priestly duties to be performed in the Temple were decided by lot.  According to this custom, Zechariah was chosen to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and offer incense.  

The day he was chosen, there were a great many people praying outside and Zechariah entered the sanctuary of the Lord with the incense offering.  Then an Angel of the Lord appeared to him on the right hand side of the altar of incense.  When Zechariah saw the Angel he got afraid and confused.  

The Angel of the Lord told Zechariah not to be afraid and then told Zechariah that his prayer has been heard by God and his wife Elizabeth will give birth to a son and he should name him Yohanan (John).

  Then the Angel told him that he will be very happy because of the birth of his son and many people will be happy because of his birth, John will be a great man of the Lord and he will never drink wine or liquor, from his birth he will be filled with Holy Spirit.  He will help many people of Israel return to the Lord their God.  He himself will go first before the Lord and he will be powerful in spirit like Elijah.  He will make peace between fathers and their children, he will bring those who are not obeying God back to the right way and he will make people ready for the coming of the Lord. 

Zechariah was confused and he said to the Angel "How cam I know that  what you say is true? I am an old man and my wife is old too".  The Angel answered then that he is Gabriel who stand in the presence of God.  God sent me to tell you the good news, now as you did not believe what I said, you will not be able to speak till this happen. Zechariah became mute and was unable to speak.

The people were waiting outside and they wondered why it is taking so much time for Zechariah to come out of the sanctuary.  When Zechariah came out and he couldn't speak to them and make only signs to them, they realized that Zechariah had seen a vision in the sanctuary of God.  When Zechariah's time of service was over he went back home. 

Later Zechariah's wife Elizabeth became pregnant and when it was time for Elizabeth to give birth, she gave birth to a boy. When the neighbors and relatives heard about this they rejoiced how good the Lord was to Elizabeth.  When it was time to name the baby, the neighbors and relatives came together and they wanted to name him Zechariah after his father, but Elizabeth told the name will be John (Yohannan - meaning "Jehovah has been gracious"). Then the people reminded Elizabeth that no one in her family has this name and so they asked Zechariah by making signs as to what would he like to name the baby.  Zechariah then asked something to write on and he wrote that the name will be John (Yohannan) and everybody was surprised.  After Zechariah did that, he was able to speak again and he began to praise God and everyone was really surprised and thought in their minds "What will this child be?".  That child was John the Baptist, God send him to this world to prepare the way for his only begotten son Jesus Christ. 

From todays lesson we learn that God answers the prayer of the faithful at the right time or at His own time.  The birth of John the baptist is foretold in Malachi 4:5-6. (NRSV) "Lo, I will send you the prophet Elijah before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes.  He will turn the hearts of parents to their children and the hearts of children to their parents, so that I will not come and strike the land with a curse".  

Reference:Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee Vol-IV

Activities2: 
Lesson Review: 

1. Zechariah belonged to the priestly order of .................. (Answer: Abijah)

​2. Elizabeth was a decendant of ..................... (Answer: Aaron)

3. The name Zechariah means ..................... ( Answer: God remembers)

4. The name Elizabeth means ..................... ( Answer: His oath)

5. The name Yohanan (John) means .........................(Jehovah is gracious)  

6. Who appeared to Zecariah in the Temple at the altar of incense? 

(Answer: Gabriel the Angel)

7. What good news did Gabriel tell Zechariah? (Answer: That God heard his prayer and his wife Elizabeth will give birth to a son)

8. What was the name given by Gabriel to Zechariah to name the son when he was born? (Answer: Yohanan (John))

9. Why did Zechariah became mute and couldn't speak? (Answer: As he did not believe what Gabriel told him)

10. When did Zechariah regain his speech back? (Answer: After he wrote the name of his son and it will be Yohanan (John). 

Values for Life: 

Faith in God is the most important part of our life on this earth.  Our heavenly Father is a loving God who cares about us.  We can always approach him through prayer at any time and anywhere.

Life Response/My Decision: 

I will make it a habit to pray to God everyday.  I will call up on Him in prayer for not only my needs and other peoples needs, but to thank him for sending Jesus Christ to be our savior. 

Memory Verse: 

Luke 1:13

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John.

Closing Prayer: 

Dear heavenly Father, thank you for your love towards us.  You sent John the baptist to prepare the way for your son.  You showed your love to us by sending us your only begotten son Jesus Christ.  Lord help us to understand the love and care you have for us.  Help us to show the same loving spirit to others.  Help us daily to live a life pleasing to you.  In Jesus precious name we pray.  Amen.

 

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