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A New Era Begins. AG Sunday School Adult Manual



Memory Verse: Luke 1:68

Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people(KJV).

Central Truth

The era of God’s grace that began with the birth of John the Baptist is still in effect today._

The Lesson Outline

1. John’s Birth Foretold
A. A Prayer Had Been Answered
Luke 1:5-13

B. John: Empowered by the Holy Spirit
Luke 1:13-17

2. Zechariah’s Reaction

A. Zechariah Expresses Disbelief
Luke 1:18-22

B. The Lord Is Kind
Luke 1:23-25

3. John’s Birth

A. John’s Arrival

Luke 1:57-68

B. John’s Call
Luke 1:76-80

Learning Objectives
At the end of this lesson, students will be able to:


1. Discover the significance of John the Baptist in relationship to the coming of the Messiah.

2. Be challenged to believe God’s promises, even when they seem impossible.

3. Commit to obey God, even when His instructions may seem illogical.

Introducing the Lesson

John the Baptist was a key figure in the first coming of Christ. He served as Christ’s forerunner, calling people to repent in preparation for His coming. This message of repentance made him a celebrated figure among the Jewish people, in that corruption had arisen among the leaders in Jerusalem. As a result, John was extremely popular among the people who desired spiritual reform. However, this message of repentance (and, therefore, a call to reformation) brought about opposition as well.


And so, God raised up John to proclaim repentance and declare Christ. and John faithfully fulfilled that caling. The message of repentance remains important today, for repentance opens the heart to receive Christ’s marvellous gift of grace: salvation and eternal life.

The Holy Scriptures

*Luke 1:5.* “`There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth.


11. And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense.

12. And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him.

13. But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.

14. And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth.

16. And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God.

18. And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years.

19. And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings.

20. And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season.

21. And the people waited for Zacharias, and marvelled that he tarried so long in the temple.

22. And when he came out, he could not speak unto them: and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple: for he beckoned unto them, and remained speechless.

57. Now Elisabeth’s full time came that she should be delivered; and she brought forth a son.

59. And it came to pass, that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; and they called him Zacharias, after the name of his father.

60. And his mother answered and said, Not so; but he shall be called John.

61. And they said unto her, There is none of thy kindred that is called by this name.

67. And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying,

68. Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people.“


Commentary and Application

1. John’s Birth Foretold
A. A Prayer Had Been Answered

Luke 1:5-13
As we examine John the Baptist’s life, we see that the miraculous power of God played a central role in his ministry. This was
true even in the announcement of his birth, described in detail by-Luke. John was born to a priest named Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth (Luke 1:5). They were both godly people and advanced in years, yet they had no children for Elizabeth was barren (verses 6-7). Zechariah
served in a particular group of priests, which was ministering in the temple at the time of the events in this passage (verses 8-10). Centuries earlier, King David had separated the priests into divisions and determined the order in which they would serve
(see 1 Chronicles 24:3). While Zechariah was serving his time of duty by burning incense in the temple at a time of prayer, the angel Gabriel appeared to him (Luke 1:11).


This startled Zechariah, but the angel quickly assured him with some good news: God had heard his prayer (verse 13). Some have concluded that Zechariah was praying for a son. However, two facts weigh against this idea. First, Zechariah and his wife were old and
could no longer expect children. Second, as the priest representing the people, Zechariah would have been presenting the needs and petitions of the nation, not his own personal requests. As a result, many scholars conclude that Zechariah, like all of the godly people in Israel, would have been praying for the coming of the Messiah. This was the great hope and desire of the nation, that God would send the Promised One to His people.

Questions for Application
Describe a time when God answered a prayer of yours or that of somneone you know. What was the prayer, and how did God’s answer impact your life?

What are some of the most common things we, as Christians, pray for today? To what extent do these common prayers reflect the priorities God calls us to have as believers?

B. John: Empowered by the Holy Spirit
Luke 1:13-17

While God had answered Zechariah’s prayer, He also provided an additional blessing: Zechariah
and Elizabeth would have a son (Luke 1:13). Such a blessing was clearly a miracle from the Lord. God
identified the child as a boy and instructed that the couple name him John. The name John means “the Lord is gracious,” or “shows grace.” John’s name was an indication that the time of God’s grace was about to begin. The angel also spoke in detail about John’s character and the effect he would have on his family as well as on the nation (verses 14-17).

Among the things the angel revealed about John was the fact he would be filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother’s womb (verse 15). This underscored the importance of the work God had planned for John the Baptist. God had a specific ministry in mind fo for John’s life, and He empowered John for it at the very beginning of his life.

As we explore these verses, we gain a great lesson about preparation for ministry in this scene. Just as John needed something
more than human ability to do the work God had given him to do, so we need divine power to minister effectively today as well. Luke 24:49
illustrates this truth. The disciples had spent three years walking with Jesus and learning from Him. Yetbefore He sent them forth into the world, He instructed them to wait in Jerusalem until they received “powerfrom heaven” (NLT). This refers to the baptism in the Holy Spirit, which they received later, after Christ’s ascension, on the Day of Pentecost.


Luke 1:16–17 further states that the work of John the Baptist would be a twofold work. First, sin and unbelief had separated many of the Jewish people from their God. John, living a lifestyle of separation from the world around him, would remind the people of their need to turn back to God. Second, unbelief had come to permeate whole families, as people ignored the Word of the Lord. As a result, there was dwindling hope that the people would serve God in future generations. But John would help restore the people to a place of obedience, ready to receive the promised Messiah, according to what was taught by the former generations.

The message of John’s ministry still rings true today. We too must prepare our hearts for Christ’s rule
and daily submit to His rule. We need the Spirit’s power in our lives to minister effectively and powerfuly in a sinful world.

Questions for Application

How does the Holy Spirit help us in ministry today?

In what ways might we practise a lifestyle of separation amid our world?

2. Zechariah’s Reaction
A. Zechariah Expresses Disbelief

Luke 1:18-22
Zechariah’s first reacted with disbelief to the angel’s message (Luke 1:18). This can be attributed to his and Elizabeth’s age at the time of the announcement- both were well beyond the normal age of procreation. Yet as a godly and pious Israelite-and a priest in the temple-Zechariah ought to have recalled some critically important events from lsrael’s past. No doubt, he knew well the story of Abraham and Sarah, and how Sarah bore a child in her old age (see Genesis 15:4; 17:5,15-17; 21:1). Similarly. Rebekah was barren for twenty years before giving birth to Jacob and Esau (Genesis 25:20-26). And Rachel hạd been barren before giving birth to Joseph (Genesis 30:22-24). It is noteworthy that all three of these examples, and the children born from them, played significant roles in the furtherance of God’s plan in sending His Son Jesus, the Messiah.


These marvellous miracles gifts from God — foreshadowed an important truth that Christ himself would teach. Zechariah needed torealise the truth later shared by Jesus In Matthew 19:26, “With God everything is possible” (NLT). The God we serve has performed miracles to further His plan from the very beginning. Even so, Zechariah struggled with a sense of disbelief at what was told to him. As a result, the angel Gabriel took away Zechariah’s ability to speak (Luke 1:19-22). This lasted until the naming of the baby after he was born (verses 62-64). Yet even though Zechariah could not speak, those who were at the temple quickly identified that something amazing had happened to him. They concluded that he must have seen a vision from the Lord. Truly, this was no ordinary day.


Zechariah’s loss of speech Would serve two purposes. First, it was a penalty for his lack of belief in response to Gabriel’s message. Second, it would serve to confirm the truth of what Gabriel had said. If the angel could silence Zechariah for a
period of time that would extend for months, then restore that speech, clearly the word of Gabriel was true. The baby he promised, John, would indeed be born.

Questions for Application

Why do you think that even a man like Zechariah would struggle to believe the message from Gabriel?_

What might we learn from Zechariah’s example?_

What do you think is the significance, if any, of the many examples of God providing a child for a barren woman during the working out of His plan for the coming of the Messiah?

B. The Lord Is Kind
Luke 1:23-25

After his time of service In the temple came to an end and Zechariah had returned home, Elizabeth became pregnant, just as the angel had told him (verses 23-24), and she responded with gratitude (verse 25).

Elizabeth found great joy in being a part of what God was doing among His people, and her joy was especially personal in that He was
working through her. God has-enabled- this woman who was past the age of childbearing to become pregnant. In Bible times, a wife felt great sadness and a sense of disgrace when she was childless, and God had delivered her from this. Furthemore, God had a marvellous plan for her son, and He even empowered him before he was born. Gabriel’s words reveal the providence of God. He had exercisedControl over minute details of John’s life, and Elizabeth was a part of what He was doing.


The great detail found in Luke concerning the birth of John underscores the importance of the role John would play in salvation history. Keep in mind the purpose of John’s birth. According to verse 17, John came to prepare the Jewish people for the coming of Christ. He laboured for the lofty goal of pointing hearts toward the Saviour of the world. John played a crucial role in it. God exercised His sovereign power so John could take his place in the history of salvation.

Questions for Application
Describe a timne when God has been unexpectedly kind to you._

What are some situations today that leave people feeling disgraced, and how can Christians minister love to such people?

3. John’s Birth
A. John’s Arrival

Luke 1:57-68
John was born, just as the angel had foretold, and a time of great celebration ensued (Luke 1:57-63).

According to the Law, Zechariah and Elizabeth brought their son to becircumcised on the eighth day, awhich point it was Customary that the
child’s name would be announced. While the family assumed they wouldname him after his father, Zechariah, Elizabeth announced that the child would be named John, as the angel had instructed (see Luke 1:13). As noted earlier, John’s name means “the Lod is gracious,” a name with twofold significance. It represented the answer to their prayers for a son. And it also announced that God’s grace was about to be poured out upon His people, and ultimately upon the world. John would be the forerunner of the Messiah, Jesus Christ.


Note that confused family members turned to Zechariah for an explanation as to what the child should be named. (John was not a name used in that family.) Zechariah had been unable to speak since the angel had visited him. (This loss of speech came as a resut of his doubt
about the angel’s message.) So, Zechariah confimed the name in written form (verses 62-63).


The moment Zechariah wrote the child’s name, his speech was restored in response to his obedience. The praise Zechariah offered in that moment underscored the glory of the event. The news of thiss miracle spread quickly (verses 65-66). Multitudes of people in the area reflected on the seriousness and: significance of what had happened and wondered what it all meant.


Obedience is still, and will always be, a central part of our walk with God. When we step ut in obedience to God and call upon Him to work in our circumstances, His power and His grace will be evident to those around us. Even those who are merely observers are often awed
by God as He works.

Questions for Application

In what ways can obedience to God serve as a testimony to others today?_

What are some other examples of how the name of person in the Bible reflected God’s plan in that person’s life, or in the world?_
B. John’s Call
Luke 1:76-80

In Luke 1:76-79, Zechariah delivered a word of blessing over John, but this was no ordinary parental blessing. Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke a prophetic message over his son (see verse 1:67). Zechariah prophesied that John would be the forerunner of the Messiah, telling of the salvation of God through forgiveness of sin. John would proclaim God’s mercy, personified in His Son, the Messiah (verses 76-79).


And so, over the years to come, John grew physically as well as in spirit (verse 80). His life would be spent in harsh and barren lands,
eliminating distractions and providing an ideal place for him to prepare for his crucial ministry.

Questions for Application

How do you proclaim the message of Christ to those around you?_

In what ways might God have prepared you for the ministry or service He has called you to do?_

Call to Discipleship

A new era began when God sent His Son Jesus to be the Saviour of the world.After centuries of preparation and prophecies, God sent a forerunner, a man named John, to prepare the way for the Messiah. While we may not have had a dramatic call from birth as John did, God has called each of us to follow Him and to point the way to salvation through Jesus.

Ministry in Action

Find a tangible way to serve someone, pointing them to Christ.
Examine your life, asking yourself if you are being obedient to God.
Lookfor ways you can represent Christ in your job and other activities.


Action Point

Get A Professional Account In Your Business Name. Go Moniepoint.

PS: I know you might agree with some of the points that I have raised in this article. You might not agree with some of the issues raised. Let me know your views about the topic discussed. We will appreciate it if you could drop your comment. Thanks in anticipation.

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