A Man with the Spirit and Power of Elijah

He will be a man with the spirit and power of Elijah. [Luke 1:17 NLT]

What do you think of when you read about the angel Gabriel declaring that John the Baptist would be one with the spirit and power of Elijah? My first reaction is to think of how Elijah did amazing feats like calling down fire on an altar or parting the Jordan River. Yet John the Baptist did nothing like that.

So the issue, for me, is what did the angel mean. If not miraculous power then what kind of power is he referencing? I think he is speaking of prophetic power. The ability to speak God's words in the spirit of a prophet like Elijah. We see this in the ways that John confronted people in the gospel accounts.

John exercised prophetic power when he publicly criticized Herod Antipas for marrying his brother’s wife Herodias. It reminds me of how the prophet Nathan confronted King David over his dealings with Bathsheba and her husband. In similar occasions John showed himself to be a powerful prophet.

Yet perhaps the best example is how John understood that his prophetic mission was primarily to point to the Messiah. At the outset he called Jesus the Lamb of God. He ministered separately but knew that his ministry would decrease as Jesus' ministry increased. In this he modeled powerful humility.

Help me Lord to be a man of the spirit and a man of power.

... this devotion is part of a series about John the Baptist.

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