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“ The grace of God is upon you," as was said of Jesus, we shall be quite sure that, like Him, you will increase in wisdom, as well as in stature, and in favour with God and man.
THE WAY PREPARED FOR JESUS.
I must now tell you about a child who was born about six months before Jesus. There was a priest named Zacharias; his wife's name was Elizabeth. They had no children, though they had often prayed that God would give them a son; and now they were both getting old. One day, as Zacharias was burning incense in the temple, an angel came and stood by the altar. Zacharias was much frightened when he saw him ; but the angel soon spoke kind and comforting words to him.
“ Fear not, Zacharias, thy prayer is heard, thy wife Elizabeth shall have a son, and thou shalt call his name John." He told him, too, that this wonderful child was to make ready
the way for the coming of Jesus. Zacharias could not believe what he heard. He asked the angel how he was to know that it would come true. The angel answered, “I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God, and am sent to speak to thee.” Now, Zacharias could not doubt any longer; but he should have believed at first. And now, because he had doubted God's word, he must be dumb, and not able to speak until the child was born. Unbelief is very displeasing to God.—There were a great many people outside, waiting for Zacharias. They could not think why he was so long in coming to them. At last he came out, but he could not speak to them. This made them wonder more and more, for they did not know what had happened to him in the temple, as you now do. Some months after this Zacharias and Elizabeth had a little son born to them. His father's friends wished to have him named Zacharias;
his father and mother obeyed
the command of God, and named him “John.” Immediately Zacharias found that he could speak again ; and the first thing he did was to praise God. His beautiful hymn of praise you sometimes hear at church. (Luke i. 68–80.) One thing in it I must explain to you. Zacharias says, “ And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest : for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his way." And now you
ou will see that John had been spoken of by God in old time. Isaiah had said, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord.” (Isa. xl. 3.) Now what did this mean? How was John to prepare the way for Jesus ? I am going to tell you. When John was old enough he went to live in the wilderness. There he remained many years. All this time, you know, Jesus was living at Nazareth.
At last the time came when John was to prepare the way for Christ. The word
of God came to him in the wilderness, and he began to preach, saying, “Repent ye, for the kingdom of God is at hand.” But how would this make ready a way for Jesus? I will try to make you understand how. Until people learn to know that they are sinners, and really wish to turn from sin (or repent), they cannot be ready to receive Jesus as a Saviour. As soon as we have learned to feel our sinfulness we shall long to fly to Him for pardon and peace. This is why John preached, “Repent.” A А great many people went out into the wilderness to hear him. He wore a very strange dress. “ His raiment was of camel's hair, and he had a leathern girdle about his loins.” His food, too, was strange.
“ He did eat locusts and wild honey." I think he meant to show that the followers of Jesus must not care too much about what they were to eat, and drink, and put on.
Many of the people who went to hear John preach were Pharisees, who thought