In the beginning of Luke’s gospel, we read about the coming of the one who would prepare the way for Jesus. An older Priest named Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth had waited for many long years for a child, and in that culture the inability to bear children brought disgrace upon Elizabeth. When Zechariah was in the temple, the angel Gabriel appeared to him and prophesied that they would have a son who would prepare the way for the Lord. Zechariah doubted that the angel had the right couple in mind. Zechariah’s doubt was rewarded by the inability to speak for months and months until John was born and his name was declared.
While the angel was speaking to Zechariah and giving him hope for a future blessed with a son, he was also prophetically declaring what John would do and become. Gabriel said this about John (the Baptist).
Luke 1:16-17 (NIV)
16 Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God. 17 And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous--to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."
John’s mission was to prepare the way for the coming of the messiah, Jesus, but there were other things on the to-do list for him to accomplish. Turning the hearts of the fathers to the children is an allusion to Malachi 4:6. It is interesting that the fathers are the ones with the heart posture that needs to be changed. While I see deficiencies and places in the lives of my children that need to be addressed, most of the relational separation between me and my children are really more a reflection of what’s happening in MY heart, not their hearts. There are times that I need a John the Baptist to speak boldly to my heart to turn it toward my children (not only my natural born children but spiritual children as well).
While I would expect the spirit and power of Elijah might look like crazy miracles that John the Baptist would do, we don’t see accounts of miracles. This doesn’t mean that miracles didn’t follow his ministry – we just don’t have an account of them. The power we do see John moving in is through his words and in his prophetic voice that refuses to be silent when threatened, calling people to repentance (changing their minds & turning from their sinful ways).
The other part of the statement Gabriel includes is turning the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous. It is striking to me that the disobedient aren’t just coming under God’s authority, but God is turning their hearts to the wisdom and input of those who are living rightly. Once again, God is choosing to work through those of us who follow Him. He is showing His desire to partner with us and share His wisdom through the words we speak and the actions we take. It is a great privilege to know that God is continually sending people to me who are reevaluating their lives and are ready for the wisdom of heaven.
That is where I feel humbled and dependent upon God to give me wisdom to give away to others. I find myself praying for the grace of God to saturate me and fill my mouth with heaven’s wisdom. My friend Gaylord once said to me, “All we need is a miracle a minute.” The miracle I need at this Christmas time is the wisdom of heaven delivered to my heart and mind. This is the gift that I seek for myself and for those who are broken and whose hearts have been turned toward me.
As we seek the Christ who we celebrate at Christmas, let us also ask the Lord for wisdom (James 1:5). When others come to us for help, assurance, direction, counsel, or in brokenness – we need to be a people bold enough to speak the truth in love. John the Baptist was not afraid to speak the truth, and part of the power that Gabriel is foretelling about is that boldness to proclaim God’s truth to others.
I am really seeking God for extra meaning and significance as I celebrate ADVENT, the coming of Jesus. Let’s continually invite Him to come and be present with us as we worship and celebrate His first coming 2000 years ago.