Talks for Growing Christians
Introduction and John the Baptist’s Birth Announced
Lesson Number 1
- The birth of John the Baptist was an answer to prayer.
- The birth of John the Baptist was a fulfillment of prophecy.
- The birth of John the Baptist was a test of faith.
- Don’t lose your testimony because of doubts.
- Who was Theophilus?
- Some skeptics say that there was a big blank of time between the death of Christ and the writing of the gospels, during which memories were failing and stories were being exaggerated. Is this true?
- How was Zacharias chosen to burn incense before the Lord?
- Review how the birth of John the Baptist was a fulfillment of prophecy.
- How did Zacharias react to Gabriel’s promise that Elizabeth would bear a son?
- We don’t know for sure. It seems he was a new Christian and a Roman official. His name means “friend of God.” One of Luke’s purposes in writing this gospel was to confirm the faith of Theophilus – to show him (and us) that the Christian faith rests on solid historical fact.
- No, there were many accounts of the events being recorded during this time span. Additionally, the gap between the events and when the first gospel (either Matthew or Mark) was written was only about 15 years.
- Zacharias was of the division of Abiathar, one of the twenty-four divisions of priests that carried out responsibilities in the Temple. Each day one priest from the division of priests on duty was chosen by lot to go into the Holy Place of the Temple and burn incense on the golden altar of incense. This day the lot fell to Zacharias – certainly not by chance.
- For 400 years no prophet had spoken in Israel. Malachi 4:5-6 prophesied that a great prophet would come as a forerunner to the Messiah. John the Baptist was the forerunner of Christ.
- Zacharias dared to ask Gabriel for a sign that this word from the Lord was true and really going to happen. The Lord did grant him a sign – Zacharias was unable to speak until John was born!
- Herod the Great is considered “great” in secular history because of his magnificent building projects. In verse 15 John the Baptist is described as great because of his commitment and service to the Lord. Discuss these contrasting measures of greatness. How can you be great in God’s eyes?
- This account of Zacharias and Elizabeth can be a lesson on prayer for us. Don’t give up hope. God can still answer your long time prayers, as He did for Zacharias and Elizabeth. Notice that the answer comes as Zacharias was going about his God-given responsibilities. That should be our pattern as well.
- When we doubt the word of God it affects our testimony before the watching world. We are unable to speak with power and conviction to the people. Do you have doubts right now? Go to the Lord about these doubts, so you can have a strong testimony.
- “It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus.” Luke 1:3
- “But the angel said to him, ‘Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb. And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God.’” Luke 1:13-16