John the Baptist, the Friend of God

(John 3:22-30)

I have written about John the Baptist and his ministry quite a few times in this blog, and rather than repeat old ground I would refer you to the links at the bottom of this page to read those previous comments. However in this section of scripture there are a couple of points made about John the Baptist that are worth mentioning and which I may not have previously covered. They add insight not only about John, but also about how we should be and behave today.

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Behold, the Lamb of God

(John 1:29-34)

The gospel of John is incredibly powerful. It contains so much knowledge and teaching that it can only have been inspired by the Holy Spirit. One of the problems with this simplicity of the gospel of John is that it is easy to miss important teachings and concepts. As an example, this single paragraph, which is only five verses long, holds many of the keys to the mystery of Christianity.

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The Voice of One Crying Out in the Wilderness

(John 1:19-28)

In the past few posts I have spoken a little about John the Baptist. There is an aspect to his ministry that I want to examine today that is quite different to the basic ministry he came to teach. I want to explore a little about “how” he taught, which also looks a little at where and why he taught. There is in this paragraph of John 1 an interesting positional context that deserves some further explanation, and it goes to the heart of the differences that both John the Baptist as well as Jesus showed which set them apart from the religious leaders of their day.

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Coming to the Light

(John 1:6-8)

The Apostle John now introduces John the baptist. In just a word or two he provides and enormous amount of understanding as to who John was and what his purpose and mission was. Jesus described John as the greatest man to have been born? In Matthew 11:11 Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist.” John’s mission and purpose then is clearly something that was and is highly important. If the Son of God himself bestows such a title on this man, it is evident that his purpose was highly important.

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Jesus and John the Baptist

(Luke 7:24-30)

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)

John the Baptist 2Incredible 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

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Who was John the Baptist?

(Luke 3:15-17)

There was a classic line from one of the early radio and television shows (I think it was The Lone Ranger…but I might be wrong). The show always had the line, “Who was that masked man?” Well the people at the time when John the Baptist appeared were asking themselves a similar question, “Who is this John the Baptist?”

The people were wondering whether John was the Christ and Messiah who was to come. They heard the marvellous words and saw his works and thought perhaps he may have been the Christ. Unlike the Lone Ranger though, John told them who he was and also who he wasn’t. In this section of scripture we see him answer the people saying, “I baptize you with water; but he who is mightier than I is coming, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” (Verse 16)

He made it quite clear that the people were not to be fooled into thinking he was the Christ. Nor was he seeking the people to look up to himself, but he pointed them forward saying that the Christ who was to come was the one to be worshipped. He showed them that the Christ to come was “mightier then I” and that he was the one for whom John was working to prepare the people. He told the people that the power and ministry that he had was only just a beginning. The real power would be seen when Jesus appeared. He contrasted his baptism of water with the baptism of fire that was to come. John recognised that the Holy Spirit would be given to the people and that at that time they would receive the power to become the children of God.

He also gave them full warning. When Jesus appeared he would draw a line in the sand. He would separate the people as the farmer separates the wheat from the chaff. Jesus polarised the people then and he still does so today. There is no middle ground, you are either with or against him.

In many ways John exhorted the people to prepare them for the coming of the Lord, and his words still ring true today. There is much we can learn from the ministry of John as preparation for the Lord and we will do well to listen to what he had to say.

Do The Right Thing

(Luke 3:10-14)

When the people came to John the Baptist they asked him what they should do to please the Lord. John didn’t get all “religious” and tell them they needed to go and light a candle, or throw money into the offering plate, spend more time studying the bible, or buy the latest piece of gospel music, bumper sticker for the chariot or to go out and evangelize the world. No, instead his message was very simple.

do the right thingHe told them to “do the right thing.” He said to do what is right for this is what every person needs to do if they are walking with the Lord.

Pretty simple message isn’t it? If you want to live a Christian life then you need to do what is pleasing to God, and that means doing what is right.

But in what way? We see that when John the Baptist taught about doing what is right, he was focussed on one specific area of life. Relationships. To do what is right is all about how you treat your fellow human beings. it’s not about the environment, it’s not about animal welfare or any of the many other endeavours people pour their lives into these days. The focus John was showing was to do what is right with the people around you.

Look at the examples John gave and see if we can bring these into today’s situation. He said, “He who has two coats, let him share with him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise.” (Verse 11) He is saying that if you have an abundance, share it with those who are less well off. Give to those who are in need and help those who have a need by providing for their physical needs if you have the opportunity.

Note here also that he is not saying that if you have two coats give them both. Or if you have food give it all away. No. He is saying that if you have excess give it to those who do not, but not to the extent that you leave yourself in want. He is not telling you to be a martyr, as some people would have you believe. Every person’s first priority with their goods and resources is to provide for the needs of their husband, wife, children or family.

Then he moves on to those who are in business. The tax collectors asked, “Teacher, what shall we do?” (Verse 12) John’s response was to collect no more than they were appointed to collect. That is, don’t use your position and power to extort money from people.

Some years ago we saw the film “Wall Street” which had that classic line that, “Greed is good.” Well they were wrong! Greed is NOT good. It is very, very bad and those in business need to understand that if they are to do what is right. Greed will eat up the resources that could or should be used to help others. It is the greed of a few that became the catalyst for the current global financial crisis, which is causing heartbreak, destitution, despair and hurt for countless millions today. John warned that those in business need to do what is right when dealing in their business with people.

John then moves on to those in positions of power or governing authority when soldiers come to ask, “And we, what shall we do?” (Verse 14) His message again is the same, that they should do what is right. “Rob no one by violence or by false accusation, and be content with your wages.” (Verse 14) There are some in positions of governing authority who use their positions to rob and extort today. They go into public office for the purpose of cheating and lining their own pockets. Every so often we read or hear about corruption amongst government officials from the highest to the lowest levels of power.

Doing what is right is a simple but very powerful message. It says that you should not take advantage of anyone but be prepared to help them if you have the means or it is within your power to do so. When the people came to John he told them to bear fruit that befits repentance. Doing the right thing by the people you are in contact with is bearing the fruits of repentance. Live your life by the maxim that you will always do the right things and you will go far. Do the opposite and you had better be prepared for the consequences for the Lord will judge us all. Better to be judged for the good than for evil.

(Picture sourced from stock.xchng provided by “magicmarie”)