Saint John the Baptist
Just the gist (for small children and others with tiny attention spans):
John the Baptist was born to an elderly priest and his wife. He grew up, started baptizing people and told them to repent because God was coming. God did come, to the Jordan where John was baptizing and God was baptized by John the Baptist.
For those that can handle just a bit more:
The archangel Gabriel appeared to Zechariah as he went about his priestly duty in the temple and told him that he and his elderly wife Elizabeth were going to be parents and that their son shall not drink any alcohol and he’d be filled with the Holy Spirit even while in Elizabeth’s tummy. (Their son was dedicated to God in a special way like Samson had been dedicated back on Day 11, only Saint John the Baptist was a lot better about keeping his vows.)
“And he will turn many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah… to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.” (Luke 1:16-17). Which is Bible talk for “He will get everyone ready for the coming Messiah.”
Zechariah must have not remembered the many near-miraculous pregnancies strewn throughout the Old Testament because he said something like, “How are we going to have a son? My wife and I are really old. Not old like teenagers think old, but actually really old.” Saint Gabriel was annoyed by Zechariah’s unbelief and so he struck him mute. Barren Lady Gets a Baby: And mute Zechariah remained until the birth of his son when he was able to speak again to name the boy John. (Luke 1:57-64)
“And the child grew and became strong in spirit and he was in the wilderness until the day of his manifestation to Israel.” (Luke 2:80)
And the voice was crying: “Get your stuff together people, God is coming!”
John wore an outfit made of camel’s hair accessorized with a leather girdle around the waist. He ate locusts and wild honey for food (the precursor to the Paleo diet). (Matthew 3:4)
People from all over Judea went out to him and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.
John saw the multitudes that came out to be baptized by him and said to them in his most welcoming voice, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” (Luke 3:7). Even John’s most welcoming voice wasn’t that welcoming.
He told them they needed to repent and not to assume that just because they were Israelites that God would be cool with them.
“God can make children of Abraham out of these rocks if he wants to,” John told them. (Luke 3:8)“God likes to chew bubblegum and cut down trees that don’t bear good fruit and it looks like God is almost out of bubblegum.” #truestory
The multitudes started to freak out a little. “What should we do?”
“If you have two coats, share one with someone who has zero coats. If you have extra food, share it with someone who has no food.” He told the tax collectors to only collect what is owed to them. He told the soldiers to stop robbing people and just be happy with what they were paid. (Luke 3:10-14) “This isn’t rocket science, my little vipers!”
People started to think there was something different about this John guy. He did not care about his outward appearance. He didn’t seem to care what people thought of him and he did a lot of yelling. They started to think that maybe this guy was the Christ.
But before the 24-hour news cycle could pick up on it, John put the kibosh on the theory. He yelled, “I am not the Messiah. I baptize you with water; but he who is mightier than I is coming, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” (Luke 3:16). Which is a lot of colorful Bible talk for “I am not the Christ.”
After he baptized Jesus in the Jordan, he saw the Holy Spirit descend on Him in the form of a dove. God said that’s how John would know Jesus was the One.
“It’s Him! It’s the Lamb of God!” he said, pretty excited to meet God in the flesh. (John 1:29)
John’s non-word-mincing delivery style coupled with his brutal honesty even to those in positions of power got him locked up by King Herod at the insistence of his wife Herodias. The rest of John’s story is no longer Christmas talk. It becomes Easter talk (Matthew 14:1-12)