John The Baptiser


John the Baptist Prepares the Way

John 1:9-18 / Mark 1:1-9 / Luke 3:1-20.

John the Baptist was a fascinating man, he ate locusts and honey in the desert. Crowds came to him, but he constantly told them that he was nothing, but the coming Messiah was everything. In the end, his life was cut short because he criticised a king for sinning. But John was given such high recognition by Jesus Himself in Matthew 11:11 ‘Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist, yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.’

John’s miraculous birth

The story of the birth of the one who came to be known as John the Baptist gives signs of the greatness to come. John’s parents were an older couple named Zacharias and Elizabeth. They were both descended from the priestly family of Aaron, Luke 1:5.

The Bible says, ‘they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old.’ Luke 1:7. Then came the day when Zacharias, while burning incense at the temple, saw an angel, Luke 1:11.

Zacharias was startled by the appearance of the angel but perhaps he was even more surprised by what the angel told him. Elizabeth would bear a child in her old age!

They would name him John, and he would be set apart for a special purpose, Luke 1:13-15. The angel Gabriel told him, ‘He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.’ Luke 1:16-17

Zacharias was shocked! He asked, ‘How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.’ Luke 1:18

Because Zacharias had doubted the angel’s words, Gabriel gave him a sign, that he wouldn’t be able to talk until the birth of his son. Of course, the angel proved to be correct, and after nine months the priest and his wife had a son, Luke 1:57.

There’s much more to this story, including the fact that Elizabeth and Mary the mother of Jesus were related and that in the womb John leapt for joy in recognition of Jesus, Luke 1:41.

The birth of Jesus came about six months after John’s birth. God had performed a miracle and brought John into the world for a special purpose!

The work of John the Baptist

God had set John apart for a special mission, he was to preach about repentance and to baptise people in water. He was also to preach about the Kingdom of God and prepare a people for the Messiah’s coming. That is exactly what John did, instead of serving at the temple as a priest, he dressed in a camel’s hair garment and a leather belt. He ate locusts and wild honey, Matthew 3:4.

Interestingly, locusts are very nutritious and are 60% protein compared to the 20% protein content of chicken and beef.

This shows us he led a secluded and even rough life, perhaps because of a vow he had taken. We do know his father said he would not drink wine, which would indicate maybe he would take the Nazarite vow, Luke 1:15 / Matthew 11:18.

While it isn’t necessary to live like that for everyone, there are a few characters in the Bible such as Elijah that live similarly. It’s almost like a lifelong fast, ridding themselves of temptations of more luxurious living and practising self-control and discipline to focus on the Lord and the ministry that was given to them.

Are we spiritually prepared to spread the good news?

How can we get prepared?

 ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.’ Luke 10:2

He told the crowds that came to see him that they needed to repent and that the Kingdom of God was at hand, Matthew 3:1-2. He preached the same message as Jesus Christ the Messiah, Mark 1:14-15 / Matthew 3:3.

John the Baptist knew that he had been called by God to fulfil the prophecy of Isaiah, Matthew 3:3 / Isaiah 40:3.

When the religious leaders of his time came to see him, John showed courage, he rebuked them for ignoring God’s message of repentance. They believed that they didn’t need to repent since they were directly descended from Abraham. But he told them, ‘And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham.’ Matthew 3:9.

Do we understand our calling and the message we’re to take to people?

 ‘Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.’ Matthew 28:19-20

John pointed the people to Christ regularly, John 1:6-8 / John 1:19-27  / John 1:29-37 / John 1:35-37.

When we share the message with people, are we pointing them to the church or to Jesus?

 ‘And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.’ John 12:32

John baptised His Lord and Saviour

When Jesus was ready to start His public ministry, He came to John to provide an example for all mankind by being baptised. After John had baptised Jesus, he was privileged to see the Holy Spirit descend on Him. This confirmed to John that this was indeed the Son of God, John 1:32-34.

The arrest and execution of John the Baptist

John the Baptist didn’t pull any punches, he called sin, sin. He even criticised King Herod for marrying his brother’s wife and was thrown in jail, Matthew 14:3 / Mark 6:17.

What was wrong with their marriage?

The story of Herod and Herodias is quite scandalous. Philip and Herod were brothers who were also both uncles to Herodias. Apparently, Philip married Herodias and they had a child together, Salome. Herod also had a wife during this time.

At some point, Herod and Herodias decided to divorce their spouses in order to ‘marry’ each other. The way we speak to people differs from each person to the next and some people need to be told plainly that they are sinning and in need of a Saviour. Are we prepared to call sin, sin?

After spending some time in his prison cell, John sent some of his disciples to Christ. He wanted to receive confirmation about the work and mission of Christ, Matthew 11:2-6. Notice Jesus didn’t answer ‘yes I am,’ but pointed to the miraculous things which He had been doing been happening.

John believed that Jesus was the Lamb of God and the Son of God, John 1:29 / John 1:34. He also believed He was the Christ, the coming Messiah who will conquer and rule. But perhaps he was expecting Christ to start conquering then instead of letting him remain in jail, that was not to be, however.

While John was in prison, Herod threw a party, and his wife’s daughter danced and pleased him so much that he promised her whatever her heart desired, Matthew 14:8.

Herod was sorry, but because of his oaths, he felt trapped into ordering John to be killed.

Are we prepared to pay the consequences of taking the Gospel to others? 1 Peter 2:21.

What can we learn from John about evangelism?

John’s life story and his message point us to Jesus Christ, show God’s miraculous power and teach the importance of repentance from sin and baptism. John the Baptist’s story also shows us an amazing example of humility. Throughout his life and ministry, John always directed people to Jesus Christ. When talking about Christ, he said, ‘But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry’. Matthew 3:11

The job of carrying sandals was the job of the lowliest slave, yet John didn’t deem himself worthy of even this lowest of jobs in serving Christ.

Are we willing to serve people in areas where no one else wants to? John 13:1-17.

To John, everything was about the Messiah whom he had been commissioned to prepare for. John saw his own needs and status in life as unimportant. He wasn’t jealous about the crowds going to see Jesus, instead, he humbly said, ‘He must become greater; I must become less.’ John 3:30

The work of John the Baptist also reminds us that God has a detailed plan that He is carrying out. Though we, like John the Baptist, may not understand everything about that plan or our assigned part in it, we can know that God has a plan for us. Herod might have killed John the Baptist physically, but spiritually John lives on in heaven.

Do we see ourselves as part of God’s plan to save the world?

 ‘All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.’ 2 Corinthians 5:18-19

Religious pedigree means nothing

He recognised that just because a person was a Hebrew, it didn’t mean they had a relationship with God. We should be aware that many people proclaim to be Christians simply because they attend some ‘church’ but they actually may not have a relationship with God. This may be even true of someone who was raised in the church, Philippians 3:4-7.

Share a clear message

One thing that always stands out to me when I read about John is his simple, clear, and truthful message. His words were powerful, he struck right to the heart of the matter. He wasn’t afraid of offending people, he wasn’t worried about their reaction, and the religious leaders did hate him. He called the Pharisees and Sadducees a ‘brood of vipers’. Luke 3:7

What do you think about this? Were these words offensive? Should he have spoken more kindly? In fact, John realised that being politically correct wouldn’t help anybody, Luke 3:10-15.

John recognised that repentance would show up in everyday actions, he gave practical tips to each group specifically targeted to their areas of weakness. Without the fruit of a changed life, it would be evident that a person doesn’t have a close relationship with God. He wasn’t preaching that these things could save a person, but that they were necessary for true repentance to take place.

How would you respond to someone who bases their salvation on good deeds? Isaiah 64:6.

Humility when sharing the message, John 3:27-30 / Matthew 3:11 / Matthew 3:14-15. John recognised he was unfit to even tie Jesus’ sandal, he recognised that he was unworthy to baptise Jesus. Both are true, he was unworthy, worthier than we are, but still unworthy. Although he had many crowds and people following him, he recognised his role wasn’t to attract people to himself but to push people to Jesus.

How might most leaders respond if their followers start following somebody else? Most leaders, like the Pharisees, would have gotten jealous and been angry. They might have tried to think of ways to get the crowds back like offering free food or playing music or something, not John.

What was his attitude towards this role?

He not only accepted it, but he also embraced it joyfully! What a great example!

He used the illustration of a groom and his ‘best man’. Who gets the attention at a wedding? The best man? What is the best man’s role? The best man’s role is to help behind the scenes to do whatever he can to help out. He isn’t in the spotlight, the groom is.

Are we putting the spotlight on Jesus when we share the good news or on ourselves or someone else? Acts 4:12.

Sharing the truth with courage

John boldly stood up to Herod about Herod’s immoral relationship, evidently rebuking, warning Herod about this, multiple times. It was extremely dangerous to take such a bold public stand against such a powerful man who had the authority to arrest and kill you, the result was John’s arrest and subsequent murder.

This account shows us again his great example of courage, he spoke forth the truth even when it was dangerous. He didn’t sugar coat it, or hide it, he said what needed to be said, he stood on what was right and didn’t compromise.

Do we have the courage to be bold and speak the truth without compromising it? Acts 20:27.

Matthew 3:13-17, Mark 1:9-11 and Luke 3:21-22 all record the baptism of Jesus. Matthew 4:1-11, Mark 1:12-13 and Luke 4:1-13 all record the temptation of Christ.

John the Baptist denies being the Christ in John 1:19-28. John 1:20-34 speaks about Jesus being the Lamb of God.