Luke concludes the stories of John the Baptist in today’s verses. I don’t know if we will run into John again later in Luke’s narrative because Luke didn’t share John’s final fate. Let’s look at what he did share.
John is credited as preaching the good news to the people. The news was that their Savior was VERY close at hand. He was even living with them at that moment. No more waiting for centuries and hoping He would come in their lifetime. Another part of that good news was that He was ready, willing, and able to forgive all men of their sins. He was also a personal savior for all. That was GREAT news for a hurting and hungry people.
But John also got right in the face of sin. He didn’t care who it was, he called everyone on the carpet. All the way up to Herod. Maybe John trusted God to take care of him so fully that he wasn’t afraid of what Herod could or might do to him. Did he think he was untouchable because he was sharing exactly what God called him to share? John was graced by God’s protective hand for a long time, but part of God’s plan was for John to exit the stage so Jesus could then occupy it alone. John himself recognized the need to decrease his ministry as Jesus’ ministry took off. In John 3:30 John stated that he must decrease so Jesus could increase. But was he surprised by the method and timing of his decrease?
Luke also shares with us the crowning moment in John’s ministry where he receives confirmation of Who Jesus really was. John knew in his spirit the identity of Jesus. The Holy Spirit within John recognized Jesus but John’s natural eyes and heart needed confirmation. God provided that for him in triplicate at Jesus’ baptism. As Jesus was coming out of the water, God spoke from Heaven; “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased” (Matt. 3:17). During God’s speech, the Holy Spirit descended in the form of a dove and rested on the Son of God. Proof positive for John. This would be something he could think back on any time he was worried or confused. I wonder if when his disciples came to Jesus asking if He was the Messiah, if it was John’s question or theirs.
Father God, thank You again for sharing John’s story with us. He had been “training” for that role since before he was born. I can’t imagine having such a singular focus in life. Thank You that when the time came for him to permanently leave the scene that You made it quick. Thank You also for protecting him from mistreatment from Herod. You cared for him from beginning to end.
Thank You that You care for me so completely too. You didn’t tell me what my purpose in life was to be before my birth but Your hand has been on my life from the beginning. Like John’s, my life has had some rough spots. But most of mine were from my own making. Even then though, You were with me. Thank You that I can know with absolute certainty that You will be with me until the end and beyond. I’m looking forward to that “beyond” too. Thank You for the good news.