Journey to the Manger: John the Baptist

Me and the kids after our Get Ready relay race!

Me and the kids after our Get Ready relay race!

We dipped our toes in the water today meeting John the Baptist on our Journey to the Manger.

John is the miracle baby of Zechariah and Elizabeth, a child of prophecy and promise. The Holy Spirit was upon him before he was born, shaping him to become the one who would prepare the world for the Messiah. His calling was evident in his first encounter with Jesus, when he started dancing in Elizabeth’s womb as Mary, pregnant with the Son of God, greeted her cousin.

John the Baptist

John the Baptist

Jesus would later call his cousin John the greatest man ever born. John became a powerful preacher, crying out for the people to repent and turn back to God. When he went out into the wilderness, the crowds followed him. Under conviction, many confessed their sins and were baptized. John said, “I am a voice of one crying out in the wilderness: Make straight the way of the Lord.” (John 1:23) He wanted everyone to be ready for the coming of Christ!

As Jesus began His ministry and encountered John once again, John proclaimed, “Here is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the One I told you about.” (John 1:29-30) John pointed people to Jesus.

Today, we competed in a “Get Ready” relay race. One-by-one, we tried to get dressed with a pile of mismatched clothes as fast as we could, then awkwardly run around the living room three times, take them off and finally high-five the next person for them to begin. We could barely make it around the room we were laughing so hard! This game was hard (hilarious) work!

Jackson and Lauren laughed so hard when they saw how silly they looked during our relay!

Jackson and Lauren laughed so hard when they saw how silly they looked during our relay!

This Christmas, we ought to listen to John the Baptist. We need to set aside our agendas and attitudes, and turn our lives over to Christ. God longs to wash our hearts clean, renew our purpose and surround us with peace. As we celebrate the season, we then can anticipate Jesus’s presence and proclaim His coming!

Let’s get ready for Jesus!

Journey to the Manger: Zechariah (John’s father)

Matt and Lauren work together in Christmas Charades. It's hard to tell the biggest character!

Matt and Lauren work together in Christmas Charades. It’s hard to tell who is the biggest character!

On our Journey to the Manger today, we met Zechariah, the father of John. We couldn’t talk with him, though, because he wasn’t able to speak.

Zechariah (John's father)

Zechariah (John’s father)

When the Angel Gabriel appeared to Zechariah in the Temple with the answer to his prayer, Zechariah struggled with unbelief. He had longed for so many years to have a child, yet now that God was granting that hope in such a supernatural way, Zechariah hesitated. As a result, God silenced Zechariah for the time of his wife Elizabeth’s pregnancy to help him understand and believe in God’s power and promise. Though Zechariah temporarily could not speak, he would raise a son who would proclaim the coming Messiah.

Tonight we played a Christmas version of charades to put ourselves in Zechariah’s sandals. It was difficult to communicate without words, or even sounds! We often broke the rules, but had an amazing time together! 🙂

God’s mercy was rich in the midst of Zechariah’s doubt. God fulfilled His promise, and Elizabeth became pregnant even though she was well past child-bearing years. God continued to mold Zechariah’s heart during his nine-plus months of silence, so when the time came to name his precious son, Zechariah was ready to proclaim God’s Word and prophecy about John’s role of preparation for the Messiah.

And child, you will be called a prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare His ways, to give His people knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins. Because of our God’s merciful compassion, the Dawn from on high will visit us to shine on those who live in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.

– Luke 1:76-79

God is merciful even when we struggle to believe. We may experience discipline, and God could choose to silence us for a time in order to impress His truths in our hearts. But, God disciplines those He loves, and we can trust that God’s timing and His plans are for our good and for His glory. This Christmas, let’s ask our Heavenly Father to increase our faith, and to prepare us to act upon His promises.


Click here to learn more about celebrating Advent with your family this Christmas, including access to a Scripture plan, free downloads and activity ideas. For more on Journey to the Manger, an advent experience from Focus on the Family, visit the Thriving Family website.