So I know that I've been absent for a long while from my posts, so let me quickly fill you in. I am back in school and taking an Institute Class. Part of my assignments are going to be to (since this is what I chose) to blog my thoughts on what I've learned or on a principle here or there. I wanted to keep a journal, and this was the closest way for me to do it that could be "graded". So please read and know that these thoughts and insights are coming from my heart and what I hold dear and know to be true.
I am taking a New Testament Institute class. I have fallen in love with these teachings while in the mission field and they have stuck with me these last 12 years since being home. I have a deep and abiding love for my Savior, Jesus Christ. I never took the time to truly understand all of the preparatory work that went into His ministry. For this reason, I've chosen to write what and why I feel John the Baptists birth and ministry was so important. I hope my thoughts will enlighten yours too.
The question I was given is to summarize the reasons many people would rejoice over John the Baptist's birth and mission. I don't know if I can do it in one paragraph, but here it goes.
When Zacharias was told that his wife, Elisabeth, who was barren would conceive and that "thou (Zacharias) shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. For he (John) shall be great in the sight of the Lord, ...and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb. And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their god. And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." (Luke 1: 14-17) In order to rejoice about John's birth, we need to know why it was so important. The angel Gabriel told Zacharias the purpose of the son that was to come to him and Elisabeth. John the Baptist was to be an Elias; "a title given for one who is a forerunner; one as a preparer or one as a restorer. John was the last prophet under the Mosaic Law, he was the first of the NT Prophets and he brought the Aaronic Priesthood to the dispensation of the fullness of times." (Bible Dictionary)
John the Baptist's mission was a preparatory mission. He prepared the people to receive the Higher Law that would be fulfilled by Jesus Christ. Just as we are prepared within the church to receive understanding whether it is doctrinal or spiritual understanding, the people were prepared too. I can see why so many would rejoice in his birth and mission. Prophecy was being fulfilled. The people could see the fulfillment in John's coming. I can only liken this to how you and I would feel if we saw prophecy being fulfilled for the Second Coming. We would rejoice and prepare, heed, follow and know what to look for.
I love that we know that Zacharias was fulfilling his priest duties. We know that John the Baptist would fulfill his priest duties too. That is why the Savior went to him to be baptized. John the Baptist could do it, pleasing Heavenly Father because he was faithful to his duties and to his calling. I would be so bold as to say that John the Baptist magnified his calling in humility and love. His life was nothing but preparatory work. He would send others to the Savior for deeper understanding and knowledge. "There cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose. I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost." (Mark 1: 7-8) John the Baptist knew his mission, he knew his cousin, he knew his job. As in all things, there is a preparatory work that NEEDS to be done. I don't know how far in life any of us would be if there wasn't a plan, road, structure, or lesson to follow. His mission was essential to fulfilling the Plan of Salvation. I know this to be true! How grateful I am for John the Baptist's work. For his ability to understand and know what his role on this earth was. It feels like his life was written for him. Wouldn't it be great if that could happen for us? To already know where to go, how to act, what to say, and what to believe. A lesson manual for parenthood would be great to have with each child. You would know their temperament, their likes and dislikes, their strengths and weaknesses. Oh, to know the mission of your child! Wouldn't it be great?!