Luke 1:17 :
He will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,’ and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to prepare a people prepared for the Lord.”
The angel continues his message to Zacharias and explains that his son is to have the spirit and power of Elijah. Elijah was a very well known and important figure in Israel’s past. This is probably one of the best things a parent could hear about their son. Elijah single handedly destroyed the prophets of Baal after calling down fire from heaven to prove that God was the only true God. His heart was for God and God’s heart was with Elijah. Elijah made rain stop and go and even raised the dead.
It is interesting that, even though these dramatic physical things are so amazing, God decides to focus this power through John on relationships. He was going to use John “to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just.” That’s quite a different emphasis than I naturally think in my Hollywood-special-effects culture. God is in this for relationships and this is a very important thing for us to understand about God.
Think for a moment about what is really valuable in life. Is it our effects or our relationships? We may feel bad if our car is crashed, but when someone in our family is sick or dying, it becomes extremely important to us. This world tries to get our focus off of what is truly valuable and, I have found, it does a pretty good job sometimes. God’s word reminds us that relationships, not things and money, are the most important and that God can heal them.
Notice the emphasis on generational healing between father and child. It is so easy as a father to forget that the point is that we need to love our children. A great deal of harm is avoided by getting our eyes off of our own selfish vanity and getting back to doing whatever we can to help our children. It isn’t love when we protect our image more that we lay down our own lives to take care of our children no matter how it looks. I think about men who are homeschooling their kids. I know in my heart they are doing what is right but I also see a great deal of ridicule in the world. This also applies when our children do something bad. It is an opportunity for us to train them, not to hide the problem so that our projected image isn’t damaged. Standing up for what is right is what John did well.
Employees, wives, and children have something in common; they have all been told by God to submit. Rebellion can be soft and deceptive but God knows it right away. John was to be able to detect this kind of rebellion and would call it as he saw it. This would eventually cause him serious trouble with “the authorities” who would try to claim that he was the rebellious one.
True rebellion is as simple as deciding to be disobedient. We are all disobedient at times and John was also to bring people back out of that disobedience through repentance and lead them right to the feet of their Messiah.