So Elizabeth gave birth to John, both family and neighbors had heard of God's great mercy upon Elizabeth and joined in the celebration and rejoiced with her and Zacharias. Now, we need to remember that Zacharias was still dumb at the time of John's circumcision.
Those who came called the baby Zacharias, but Elizabeth had to interrupt and say, "No, his name will be called John!" They did not understand this for no one in their family had this name, so they turned to Zacharias. He picked up a tablet and stated the boy's name would be John and immediately his tongue was loosed and he could speak! He began by praising God!
The people all marveled and then alarm came over them and around Judea because in their hearts they wondered what kind of child John was going to be. If we recall, John was already filled with the Holy Spirit when he leaped in Elizabeth's womb. I wonder if they did not sense already that this child was truly a miracle from heaven.
And then, Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, he prophesied about the visitation from God and how he would redeem His people. That the promises were going to be fulfilled and a mighty Royal Savior from the line of David would save them from their enemies. The people would serve God without fear in holiness and righteousness.
And his son, little John would be called the prophet of the Most High because he would prepare the way for the Lord. He would tell the people how to find salvation through forgiveness of their sins.
His message was about the coming Messiah, the need for everyone to repent and to be baptized. He was speaking to the gentile as well as the Jew. the Jews at this time were looking for a savior to deliver them from their oppressors but John preached that the Messiah would separate the good from the bad.
Many Jews, but especially the Pharasies believed that they would see the Kingdom of God simply because they were of the line of Abraham. John told them in no uncertain terms that this was not so, they must sincerely repent of their sin and then be baptized. The water was the sign of separation from their sin.
While many of the common people flocked to the Jordan River, Jesus also came to be baptized. And although they were cousins, I don't believe John recognized Jesus until he saw the Holy Spirit descending upon him like a dove. When John saw this he said, "Behold the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world!" John also now knew that he must decrease, so that Jesus would increase.
According to the gospels, John the Baptist was arrested and held in prison in the early days of Jesus's mission. Herod Antipas' wife, Herodias quarreled with John and would have killed him herself if she could have. At a royal party in Galilee for the senior men of the kingdom, she told her daughter to ask for his head on a platter... and so it was.
I don't think John was ever jealous of Jesus even though in our minds, he might have had good reason to be. Here he was born to lift up and to preach about his younger cousin the coming Messiah. However, I believe that when the Holy Spirit baptized John in the womb he also equipped him with a ministry and an anointment straight from the heart of God. I also think that John always knew his little country cousin, Jesus, was the Savior of the World!
I wonder if I would have been so gracious....