His Name Is John
Matthew 3; Mark 1:1-12; Luke 1:5–25, 57-80; John 1:15-34; The Desire of Ages, pp. 97-113
We prepare the way for Jesus when we serve others.
“You will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him” (Luke 1:76).
Bella was excited! She had just received a message from her grandmother. Bella read the message again and again. “I’m coming to visit you next month. And I will have a surprise for you.” Such excitement! I must help Mother get things ready, Bella thought. Bella ran to the kitchen. “Mother,” she begged, “I want to help get ready for Grandma’s visit. Please say I can help. Tell me what to do.” Another day, in another time, an angel delivered a message to an old man. A message that would help change the world.
Elizabeth and Zechariah had longed for a baby for many years. But when they grew old, they gave up hope.
Zechariah was one of many Temple priests. They took turns serving for a week at a time in the Temple at Jerusalem. Only once in his life was a priest likely to go into the holy place. It was an honor to burn incense on the golden altar there. Then he would pray for the forgiveness of sin for all the people. And he prayed earnestly for 36the soon coming of the Messiah. Zechariah had looked forward to this day all his life. Now an old man, he was thrilled when his turn came.
Zechariah solemnly sprinkled the powdered incense on the glowing coals. A cloud of sweet-smelling smoke rose and filled the holy place.
Suddenly Zechariah sensed he was not alone. He opened his eyes, and there stood an angel at the right side of the altar! Zechariah trembled in fear! “Don’t be afraid, Zechariah, God has heard your prayer,” the angel said. “Your wife Elizabeth will have a son. You will call him John. He will go before the Lord to prepare the way for Him.”
A baby boy at his old age? Zechariah doubted the angel’s words. So the angel gave him a sign. “Because you did not believe my words, you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens.” And then the angel vanished.
Zechariah opened his mouth to begin the prayer for the people, but nothing came out. He couldn’t say a word.
By now Zechariah had been in the holy place a long time. The people outside were beginning to wonder what had happened to him. When he finally came out, his face was strangely glowing. Quietly Zechariah motioned to them that he had seen an angel.
Zechariah hurried home. He tried to tell Elizabeth what had happened, but he could not speak. He had to write and use hand signals. They would have a child, a boy to be named John. An angel had told him so!
Months later their baby was born. Elizabeth’s friends gathered around. “His name will be John,” Elizabeth announced.
“John? No one in your family is named John. Why not call him Zechariah?” the friends and family urged.
Elizabeth turned to her husband. Zechariah shook his head. Quickly he wrote so all could see: “His name is John.” Immediately the old priest’s voice returned. He spoke to the people and praised God for this blessing.
Zechariah must have told John about the angel at the altar. “God has a special work for you,” Zechariah said. “You will go before the Lord to prepare the way for Him.”
When John grew up, he invited people to repent of their sins and be baptized. He helped many people get ready to meet Jesus.
God has a special place in His plan for you, too. We can prepare the way for Jesus by serving others and meeting their needs. Then they will be more willing to learn about Jesus.