What God's Been Doing, All Along...

Through my chronological reading of the Bible, I’ve now made my way to the New Testament. And as I started thumbing my way through this section, through the first pages of the story of Christ, there was something in this grand unfolding of the Messiah who has come to earth that caught my eye…

As I was reading, I noticed that when Luke and John both begin their gospels, they start not immediately with the birth of Christ, but instead with the birth of John the Baptist. Matthew, too, begins his gospel by looking first at John the Baptist before making his way to Jesus.

Luke tells “Most honorable Theophilus” that his letter is one that provides “a careful summary” of “the events that took place among us” and “of what God has done in fulfillment of his promises.” (Luke 1:1-3)

So why is it that, I wondered, instead of starting off at the manger, these gospels begin with John the Baptist?

From even before his conception, John the Baptist was intended to be “a man with the spirit and power of Elijah, the prophet of old” and one who would “be filled with the Holy Spirit, even before his birth.” He was one who was born into great purpose: “He will precede the coming of the Lord, preparing the people for his arrival.” (Luke 1: 15-17)

I wonder if it is not this purpose—to prepare people’s hearts for the coming Messiah—that makes him so important to the story of Christ? Because isn’t that what the entire Old Testament is about, what every page before the New Testament leads up to, as well?

In the Old Testament, we see that the law is given which is a means for God’s people to live in communion with him and bring some of his heavenly kingdom to earth. The history of the nation of Israel is recorded with story after story about how God is merciful and loving to his children, even when they don’t deserve it. Prophet after prophet speaks of the day when all will be made new by the coming King of Kings, urging the nation to turn back to God.

Throughout the Old Testament, we see God reaching out to his people, time and time again. For centuries, he asks them to come back to him, to be his bride as they were meant to be, to live the life of faith that were their wedding vows back in that desert so long ago.

In that chain of people beseeching their brethren to turn back to God, comes John the Baptist. Perhaps it’s less about John the Baptist and more about what God has been doing for and through his people all along, showing them his grace and mercy as he prods them again and again, as he gives them chance after chance, to return to their standing as a holy people.

And into this unending rhythm of God’s mercies to his people, a Messiah is finally born. Grace beyond compare. This is what everything in The Good Book is pointing toward, even John the Baptist himself.

What are you reading about in your Bible studies? What are some of the things that have caught your eye in Scriptures lately?

Related Posts
Unexpected insights from a boring Old Testament list
How a 3-ring binder has changed the way I pray 


  1. That is a good question.

    I still don't understand everything in Bible; but I know that whatever is there is there for good reason. In fact, in my devotions this morning i was thinking about Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John and how they each account the same events from four different perspectives. That never made sense to me that the Bible would repeat the same thing four times - until today. I realized that maybe we NEEDED the four to understand the events that took place in their entirety; to get a four-dimensional picture, if you will, of what happened because it's THAT important that we understand it. I believe that John the Baptist was essential to the preparation of Christ's coming, perhaps to prepare hearts and minds and to remind them that God was still doing things, just as he had in the Old Testament. Whatever it was, there was a reason. I can't explain His awesome ways, but that's my take anyway =/

    I've been studying Romans A LOT this year. Romans is a book that really challenges my heart and exposes me; it forces me to examine myself and to remember who I am. I'm also spending some time in Acts, it's teaching me about generosity; another thing I need to look at in my own heart.

  2. Ah, what a great insight, Jackie! I have always found it interesting how each of the gospels tells things a little differently, I love the idea that it's like God is piecing together the whole story with each of those perspectives. Thanks so much for sharing what you're reading about!!

  3. I've always loved John the Baptist, he encompasses the kind of joyful energy I wish I had for Jesus every day.

    Recently I have found myself going back to read and re-read the four Gospels, trying to put together a more detailed picture in my mind of what it must have been like to know the real Jesus. I tend to think of him as the meek, mild version I hear about rather than remembering that he was funny and dynamic and passionate. It's been a joy to discover. :)

    Thank you for your blog. I read it often and it always brightens my day to share the journey. :)

  4. Carmen, Jackie, and Liz, you all have great insights about seeing the gospels in a new light! I love hearing other people's perspectives on scripture.

    Recently I have been doing a study called The Rich and Satisfying Life. It's a 21 day reading plan for busy women, with a story about a different woman in the bible each day. It has surprised me how many of these stories I either did not know or had forgotten about.

    I'm also learning so much from stories I know well, for example the story of Mary and Martha. In Luke 10:41-42 Jesus said, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” God gave me these words right before a midterm exam, and put me at almost instant peace. And I get extremely anxious before tests. But reading this verse reminds me that as long as I continue to choose Jesus first, everything will work out the way it's supposed to be.

    Another really great passage about the Widow and the Oil in 2 Kings really made me think about the connection between following God and maintaining a frugal lifestyle. I was so excited I blogged about it. There's actually a neat video that helped me see the story in a new way. If you guys are interested, here is the link:


    I'd love to hear your thoughts about this story as well! I'm a college student at a secular college, so I don't get to talk about the bible very often here. So I jump at any chances in the blogging world :P

  5. @ Alexis,

    I was so intrigued of your study plan I looked it up, and thought I would include the link if anybody else wanted to see what it is about.

    Our Heavenly Father is so kind and full of grace, I feel his love for us everyday.

  6. Oh here is the link:

  7. In my devotions I usually read the verse that prompted the daily reading in whatever book I'm using (2011 has been Streams in the Desert, SO GOOD) and I'm currently reading Job. I know the story well, but I've never spent much time sitting there. I've spent the past week on Chapter 1 and it's just challenging me right and left :)

    For my church's weekly Bible study we're going through Philippians. It's such a good book. I think we tend to look at the behaviors it chastises and criticize the "world" for its sin, but in reality he was writing to the CHURCH. Time to get our acts together, collectively.

    Finally, I have a weekly 20something girls' study I've been in for the past couple years and we've just finished our last DVD study (Priscilla Shirer, Discerning the Voice of God - HIGHLY recommend) and are starting 1 Timothy on Friday. Sounds like a lot, but it's little bits here and there :)
    Love your reflections on the Gospels, ladies!

  8. Ah, thanks so, so much for chiming in, ladies! It's so beautiful to hear what you are learning. Great fodder for us all!

    I love all the recommendations of Bible studies and devotionals you all are going through. I did the Priscilla Shirer Discerning the Voice of God study and L-O-V-E-D it, Amanda. It totally was so encouraging to my faith to know that God does love us enough to want to talk to us. So many (even Christians!) scoff at that idea.

    Will definitely check out that link, Alexis. I love how this little blog community of ours can help fill the gaps in "regular" life and be encouraging to one another's faiths. That has been my favorite aspect of blogs!

  9. @ Kristen

    Thanks for posting that link, Kristen! I should have thought to do that myself!

    Anyway, if you are looking for a good, free bible study online, it is a great one! Plus it is in a blog format!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Next Post Previous Post
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...