…during the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet:
“A voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.
Every valley shall be filled in,
every mountain and hill made low.
The crooked roads shall become straight,
the rough ways smooth.
And all people will see God’s salvation.’” (Luke 3:2-6)
John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” (Luke 3:16)
John was a cousin of Jesus. His birth was miraculous, since Elizabeth, his mother, was too old to bear children. He was a Levite and could have been as priest. Instead, under the direction of the Holy Spirit he became a prophet. His mission was to prepare the way for Jesus, the Messiah and Son of God.
His ministry was a harsh one. He proclaimed the sins of all the people to such an extent that the leaders of the Jews challenged his right to preach. Fearlessly, he called all to repent of their sin, including those leaders challenging him.
John went on to declare that the Messiah was at hand. John’s ministry was to make the hearts of the people ready to receive the message of the Messiah. He preached to raise the expectations of the people to be open to the salvation that Jesus would proclaim. John introduced the concept of empowerment by the Holy Spirit through the ministry of the Messiah.
As soon as Jesus was baptized, He went up out of the water. Suddenly the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and resting on Him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased!” (Matthew 3:16-17)
The believers of today have embraced salvation in Christ. The understand that their sins were washed away by the blood Jesus shed on the cross. They understand that they have, in Christ, eternal life.
What they have missed is the experience of the power of the Holy Spirit working in their lives. John stated that the Lord Jesus Christ would baptize believers with the Holy Spirit. He would instill fire in believers’ spirits. Jesus promised that believers would receive power to witness.
Paul taught that there were nine manifestations of the Holy Spirit that those who were baptized with the Holy Spirit could experience. He further enjoined all to seek the baptism and infilling of the Holy Spirit.
Lord God Almighty, I look for the coming of my Lord Jesus the light of the world. The world is growing darker as sin reigns in all aspects of our culture. Jesus called me to be a light in the world to dispel the darkness of sin. I am a weak light and I am overwhelmed by the prevalence of sin all around me.
I believe Your coming into the world was not just to give me hope for life eternal. I believe You have called each believer to be a witness in the world, proclaiming salvation through Jesus Christ.
For that mission in a world that does not want to be told that all are sinners and damned, I need supernatural power. Grant me the manifestation of the Holy Spirit in me to encourage and inspire Your ministry through me.
To the glory of the One and only Lord God; Amen
Advent, Christmas, Holy Spirit, John the Baptist