Last year we posted ★ Thought for the Day – Christmas or X-Mas? ★ where we looked at the evolution of the word Christmas to its abbreviated form of “X-Mas” and how Jesus has been “X-ed” out of Christmas. I highly recommend you read the original post for the context//background as I plan to build upon it, (not repeat the content.) The main idea is how do you “X” Christ out when “Christmas begins with Christ?”
This year is the 50th anniversary of “A Charlie Brown Christmas”, which today is still my favorite cartoon to watch! It is amazing to me that back in 1965, when it first aired, how pervasive materialism must have been to inspire the TV special. If you have not seen it, the main character Charlie Brown is struggling with depression and trying to understand the meaning of Christmas as everyone around him is focused on themselves and what they can get. I wonder how creator Charles Schulz would feel about today’s atmosphere. There was a special on TV the other week commemorating the golden anniversary which gave some interesting insight into Schultz’s insistence that the crux to the show was Linus quoting the Luke 2:8-14 of the Kings James Version in which the scene lasted 51 seconds! Big investment and gamble but it paid off! And at the end of that near minute recitation Linus concluded with the simple statement that,
“ . . . And that’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown,”
At the time, CBS executives saw the final product and were horrified, believing the special would be a complete flop and wanted to “X” it out but 50 years later, “A Charlie Brown Christmas” continues to air every season that is a testimony to God’s Word having tremendous power, even with how hostile the culture is towards Jesus! (If you missed it, we delved into this a little more in the ★ Day 04 – Reason for the Season – Christmas Consumerism ★.)
Today we will build upon this reality of “X-ing” Christ out of the Christmas by contrasting it with a man whose followers tried to set him up as the Messiah which was the first attempt to “X” or replace Jesus. The next part of the Christmas story that we are going to look at is the Birth of John the Baptist as recorded in Luke 1:57-66 (NLT). When we last left Zachariah in ★ Day 02 – Reason for the Season – Why I Say Merry Christmas ★, the Angel Gabriel disciplined his disbelief by rendering him mute until the events that he foretold came to pass. After John was born and they went to the temple to circumcise and name the baby “John,” Elizabeth was met with opposition because no one in the family was named that and insisted that he be named after his father Zechariah. Luke 1:63-66 (NLT) records Zachariah’s atonement and restoration for His faith,
“He motioned for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s surprise he wrote, “His name is John.” Instantly Zechariah could speak again, and he began praising God.
Awe fell upon the whole neighborhood, and the news of what had happened spread throughout the Judean hills. Everyone who heard about it reflected on these events and asked, ‘What will this child turn out to be?’ For the hand of the Lord was surely upon him in a special way.”
That last part is very interesting… “‘What will this child turn out to be?’ For the hand of the Lord was surely upon him in a special way.” God set the stage for John the Baptist to be the forerunner for his cousin Jesus to “Prepare the Way,” calling the people to repent of their sins and ready their hearts for the coming of the Messiah. When you read the Gospels (the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John,) you learn much about this mighty man of God and how there was indeed a special anointing on John the Baptist. In John 1:19-23 (NLT), John the Baptist testified about who he was,
“This was John’s testimony when the Jewish leaders sent priests and Temple assistants from Jerusalem to ask John, “Who are you?” He came right out and said,
“I am not the Messiah.”
“Well then, who are you?” they asked. “Are you Elijah?”
“No,” he replied.
“Are you the Prophet we are expecting?”
“Then who are you? We need an answer for those who sent us. What do you have to say about yourself?”
John replied in the words of the prophet Isaiah:
“I am a voice shouting in the wilderness,
‘Clear the way for the Lord’s coming!’”
Regardless though, John the Baptist had many disciples, and converts coming every day, but when Jesus’ ministry began to flourish, people flocked to Him instead causing John’s disciples to complain to him. But here is what we need to grab hold of…Instead of puffing up with pride, John the Baptist embraced “being second” and did not try to replace Jesus. He responded to the critics with this powerful statement:
“He [ Jesus ] must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.” of John 3:30 (NLT)
See John the Baptist understood what his purpose was, that he was not the star or hero…Jesus was! No one or anything should replace Jesus. He was the original the “I AM Second” spokesman! And it is clear that his attitude of humility lead to the Son of God, the Savior of the World, Jesus Christ to say that John the Baptist was the greatest man who ever lived, (see Matthew 11:11 and Luke 7:28) and that was because he knew his place and accepted it! (If you are interested you can read more on this topic from the post ★ Thought for the Day – Don’t Settle For First Place! ★.)
I will close with this final thought from Mark 10:43b-45 when Jesus said,
“…and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
I am so thankful that gave me an example like John the Baptist that being second to Jesus is not a bad thing but rather the right think which He holds in high esteem!!
As an additional supplement to today’s “Reason for the Season”…I highly recommend you listen to “The Twelve Voices of Christmas” audio dramatization from Back to the Bible of “John the Baptist – The Voice of Preparation.” This dramatization is designed to help the listener experience the story of Christ’s coming in a fresh way from the John the Baptist’s perspective.
If you would like to see the next installment of our “25 Days of Thankfulness” series go here…★ Day 09 – Reason for the Season – Who Do You Belong To? ★
Or you can start from the beginning by ★ Clicking Here ★
If you would like to hear a Great sermon on John the Baptist from David Smith, Gateway Church Elder, click here.
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