In a single verse Luke describes the 30-year upbringing of John the Baptist: “And the child continued to grow, and to become strong in spirit, and he lived in the deserts until the day of his public appearance to Israel” (Luke 1:80). Nothing is said of the hard work of his parents, Zacharias and Elizabeth. But those of us who are parents know there is a world of work in that verse!
What an unusual child he was. His father had been told of John’s future work as the forerunner of Jesus, and that he would be “great in the sight of the Lord” (v15). Knowing this, how did they take their newborn baby and raise him to become such a great preacher, as God wanted? He must have prayed every day for wisdom, and talked with his son regularly of what God had in mind. They lived in the hill country of Judah (v39), and it was in these deserted areas that John lived. He became a rugged outdoorsman and could exist by foraging. He would need these skills later in life because he would preach to crowds away from towns and cities.
We must admire his parents – both of whom were senior citizens – for their fine work raising John. They challenge us to work hard and sacrifice to raise our own children wisely, teaching them about Jesus Christ and what they can accomplish for God in this world. Our work doesn’t end when they move out on their own; they will need us for advice and encouragement for decades to come.
Years ago a teacher in Europe was asked why he bowed down to his students before class every day. He said one never knows who they will become.