Artwork by Liz Lemon Swindle
The purpose of this blog entry is to fulfill a class requirement, help me deepen my understanding of the New Testament and share what I've learned.
This week, I've read Matthew 1-2, Luke 1-2, and John 1 and 17. In order to help me deepen my understanding of the scriptures, I chose to work on studying up on John the Baptist and why his ministry was important. I was drawn to this particular assignment because I was touched by the two assigned chapters from John. I was excited to be studying the words of such a great man, who's birth was surrounded by miraculous events, and who was called to be the preparer of the way for the Savior. In the LDS Bible Dictionary, it states that John was the last of the Old Testament prophets, the first of the New Testament prophets and the bringer of the priesthood into this last dispensation.
John's parents were descended from the lineage of Aaron, they were very righteous and obedient followers. His parents, Zacharias and Elisabeth, had been unable to conceive children. They both were visited by the angel Gabriel at different times and told that Elisabeth would bear a son and he should be called John. The birth of this child would cause them to have joy and gladness and many others would rejoice at his birth. Zacharias was serving in the temple at the time and seemed to harbor some doubt, and was given a sign by being struck dumb. Elisabeth felt the babe within her leap, when Mary visited her and she knew that Mary carried the Son of God. When John was born, the Elisabeth said he should be called John, but the people attending thought she was wrong and went to Zacharias, who, still being dumb, wrote that the child should indeed be called John. Immediately, his dumbness left him and he was able to praise the Lord and prophesy that his child would be a prophet of the Most High.These miracles testify of the greatness of John and the importance of his mission on earth.
John's mission was to prepare the people for the ministry of the Savior. He did this by teaching salvation and remission of sins. He baptized the Savior and knew he had done so because of the prophesied sign of the dove. He prepared the disciples to follow the Savior. The Savior praised him for his faithfulness and diligence in fulfilling his mission, he referred to John as “a burning and a shining light” (John 5:35). The prophesy that many would rejoice in his birth has come true. Every follower of Jesus Christ must rejoice that this great man was born and exemplified what a follower of Jesus must do. He did many things that only he could do, but his humble example shows how we might follow the Savior and bring others to him by diligently following his word and sharing the gospel.