Who was John the Baptist? There is not much spoken about him and yet Jesus made the comment in this section of scripture saying, “I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John” (Verse 28)
Incredible words for a man we know very little about. When you consider some of the “competition” for this “title” such as King David, a man after God’s heart; Moses, the servant of God; Abraham, the friend of God or Enoch and Elijah both of whom did not die but were taken by God. Then it becomes quite amazing that John the Baptist above all these other men and any other on the earth before or since was the one the Jesus said was the greatest of those born of women.
Who was John the Baptist?
In a physical sense he was the son of Zechariah, a priest of the tribe of Levi. His mother, Elizabeth, was a kinswoman of Mary, the mother of Jesus, so he was related in some way to Jesus in the physical sense.
He was a great prophet, but would/could have been considered strange in some ways. His manner of life was unusual for he lived alone in the wilderness, he ate only locusts and wild honey, drank only water and wore a garment made from camel’s hair. (Matthew 3:4)
But despite the unusual aspects of his life, all of the people went to him to hear his words for he spoke the words of God and taught with authority and power. Even the scribes and Pharisees came to hear him speak, and he rebuked them for their hypocrisy just as Jesus would do later.
The Ministry of John the Baptist
John came to do two things. His ministry was firstly to prepare the way of the Lord. He preached the baptism of repentance and ministered to turn the hearts of the people away from evil and beck to God.
The second purpose John the Baptist fulfilled was to bear witness to Jesus. His role was to prepare the people and teach them to “follow the one who came after him.” He started a ministry and Jesus brought it to full fruit. John the Baptist began the work of the New Covenant and then handed it across to Jesus who was to ratify the New Covenant with his death.
John came in the spirit and power of Elijah, as was prophesied of him. He was accepted by the people for he was providing the spiritual food they longed for. But to the scribes and Pharisees he was a problem for he showed up their faults and the errors of their actions.
Can we learn from John the Baptist today?
Yes. We can learn from all the men and women of God today. John stood for God. John the Baptist stood up for what was right and he stood for righteousness. He taught that we could repent and be made right with God and that is a lesson we should remember and take to heart.
John the Baptist taught baptism as a means for forgiveness of sin and repentance. This was not the baptism into the death of Jesus that was taught after Jesus died, but it is still a lesson worth remembering. In Jesus we are baptised into the Lord’s death for this is our gateway into the New Covenant and the kingdom of God. But John the Baptist became the forerunner of this teaching of the use of baptism, for his baptism also spoke of a new life of repentance and walking with God.
Take the lessons to heart and come to God. If you have not been baptised, seek to be baptised. It is important to do so. It is so important that Jesus, who had no need for repentance or baptism, was baptised as an example so that no one could say they did not need baptism and use Jesus as an example.
Yes there is much to still learn from John the Baptist and much we do not know. Jesus called him the greatest man who ever lived so it would do us well to consider his life and work as we can benefit from this knowledge.
(Picture sourced from ChristiansUnite.com http://clipart.christiansunite.com/)