By Scott Thornton, Guest Editor
I have read The Bible approximately 15 times now, and I am consistently amazed at the detailed stories of miracles, faith and history that fill the pages.
But lately I am called to read and re-read the Book of Luke, which begins with the story of John the Baptist’s birth and the connection between John’s mother, Elizabeth, and her relative Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ. If you have not read this story recently, open your Bible to Luke and study it carefully. It will bring you to tears if you understand the blessing and joy Elizabeth received after decades of being unable to deliver a child for her husband.
Six months after Elizabeth was told by the Angel Gabriel that she would have a son who would be great and filled with the Holy Spirit, Mary received a similar conversation with the Angel Gariel. Elizabeth was told to name this son John, which was not a family name. That created some conflict as her husband Zechariah had been silenced during the pregnancy for not believing Gabriel when he delivered this good news to the priest Zechariah some nine months earlier. Fortunately both parents had been told by Gabriel to name the baby boy John.
When Zechariah was asked about this at the circumcision, he wrote that the boy should be called John, and then he was able to speak again.
After Mary had been blessed with the life of Jesus, she traveled to be with her relative Elizabeth during the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy. When Mary entered Zechariah and Elizabeth’s home and greeted the expectant mother, the Book of Luke states that the baby “leaped in her womb and Elizabether was filled with the Holy Spirit.”
The two mothers-to-be spoke like each knew the other’s holy secret already. It must have been an amazing time in their family as they exchanged stories that no one else has ever experienced. Both women were blessed with remarkable fortune and children who are famous across the world. It was a great day in their village.
According to Luke, John the Baptist was born approximately six months before Jesus was born to Mary. And John the Baptist and Jesus Christ were related through their mothers! Never heard that announcement before in church, and I have been oblivious to the holy connection until now. For decades I always remembered the story of John the Baptist started halfway through his life as he was preaching of repentance. I initially believed his was a loner, ranting in the wildness who eventually became more persuasive as leaders have done before.
Somehow I overlooked one of the most blessed events – and the miraculous nature of the birth and upbringing of John.
With that knowledge, John’s passion, his works and his meeting with Jesus carry amplified significance. That was truly a troubled time to believe in Christ.
But simultaneously, it was the best of times to see the Miracles of God, the life of the Holy Son and a significant bit player who warned the world to clean up its act quickly. Clearly there were differences between them, but both were filled with the Holy Spirit and guided by the Father. And both died horribly to fulfill a sacred mission for us.
And we – either has historians or Godly people – will recall their stories for all time.