I am really encouraged to be writing this post today! I have been wanting to talk about John the Baptist for a long time. He is a very interesting person in the Bible and he was prophesied about in Isaiah! His main mission from the Lord was to prepare the way for Jesus, so it is very important to know about him!
In order to get the clearest picture of who John was we must start in the Old Testament Book of Isaiah. Isaiah was written some 700 years before Jesus Christ was ever born, but it contains many prophecies regarding Jesus being the Messiah! Before I get to the prophecy regarding John, let me share the prophecies regarding the birth of Jesus:
“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”
“Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the Gentiles, by the way of the sea, along the Jordan–
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned. You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as men rejoice when dividing the plunder. For as in the day of Midian’s defeat, you have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor. Every warrior’s boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.”
“Immanuel” is a Hebrew name, which means “God with us.” This is confirmed in the Book of John when the Apostle John wrote:
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
It is also confirmed in Matthew:
“This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”–which means, “God with us.””
Side note: To learn about how Jesus came from Abraham through the covenant of Isaac please read my post “Nothing Is Impossible.” Jesus was also born through King David’s line (Matthew 1:1-17)!
Jesus is the Messiah, our Lord and Savior! Jesus is the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace and He reigns forever as King of kings and Lord of lords! There are many more prophecies about Jesus in Isaiah and I cannot cover them all in this post. The name Isaiah literally means “salvation of the Lord” and Jesus fulfilled all of the prophecies in Isaiah regarding the coming Messiah! Read Isaiah chapter 53! By His wounds we are healed!
The Israelites during the time of John the Baptist and Jesus knew the Scriptures in Isaiah and they were waiting for their coming Messiah. So, when John the Baptist showed up on the scene to tell them He was coming, it was exciting and powerful! Let’s jump into the book of John!
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.
Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.
There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.”
The Word is Jesus Christ. He is the life and light of men! John the Baptist was a witness to Jesus and he testified that Jesus is Lord!
By the way, before I go further, did you know that Jesus and John were cousins? Yes! Elizabeth (John’s mother) and Mary (Jesus’ mother) were cousins! Elizabeth’s son prepared the way for the Lord and Mary’s son is the Lord! John’s birth was also a miracle because Elizabeth had not been able to have children and she was very old. When Mary was visited by the angel, Elizabeth was already in her sixth month of pregnancy, so Jesus and John were very close in age. What a powerful family tree! You can read about that in Luke chapter 1! Check out what Zechariah, John’s father, said about his son after he was born:
“And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him…”
Isaiah prophesied exactly what John would say, again, some 700 years before John the Baptist and Jesus were ever born!
“Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.
A voice of one calling:
“In the desert prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.””
This is what John the Baptist had to say when he was questioned regarding his identity:
“Now this was John’s testimony when the Jews of Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, “I am not the Christ.”
They asked him, “Then who are you? Are you Elijah?”
He said, “I am not.”
“Are you the Prophet?”
He answered, “No.”
Finally they said, “Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?”
John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.'”
Now some Pharisees who had been sent questioned him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?”
“I baptize with water,” John replied, “but among you stands one you do not know. He is the one who comes after me, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.”
This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptizing.”
That is one powerful testimony! John boldly proclaimed that he was the voice preparing the way for Jesus that Isaiah had prophesied about!
Matthew records the coming of John the Baptist and the picture he paints is one of a man passionately living for God wild and free:
“In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah:
“A voice of one calling in the desert,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.'”
John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.”
Here is what John had to say about his baptizing:
“I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
The next day after John is questioned, Jesus comes to him to be baptized!
“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.”
Matthew records what happened when John baptized Jesus and it is mighty!
“Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”
Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented.
As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”
That is incredible! Heaven opened and they saw the Holy Spirit descend on Jesus and they heard God’s voice telling them who Jesus is!!! John the Baptist was blessed indeed!
“Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God.”
You see, that was John’s entire purpose in life! He prepared the way for the Lord and made straight paths for him. He did that by his testimony that Jesus Christ is the Son of God!
After Jesus was baptized, John was nearing the end of his ministry and his life. He was around 30 years old and he was soon to be imprisoned and killed by King Herod. Some who where John’s disciples questioned him because people were now going to Jesus to be baptized instead of John. John is quick to remind them that he is not the Christ and they should look to Jesus now.
“To this John replied, “A man can receive only what is given him from heaven. You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Christ but am sent ahead of him.’ The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less.”
“The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.”
Right after Jesus was baptized by John, the Spirit led Jesus into the desert to be tempted by the devil for forty days and forty nights (Matthew 4:1-11). At some point during that time, John the Baptist was arrested. Jesus found out John had been arrested after His temptation by the devil. It was at that time that the prophecy in Isaiah 9:1-2 was fulfilled! Check it out!
“When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he returned to Galilee. Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali–to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah:
“Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the way to the sea, along the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles–the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.”
From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”
That prophecy was fulfilled because Jesus Christ is that “great light” and He lived among them! Praise God! From that time on Jesus began His ministry. John the Baptist prepared the way for the Lord and he became less while always pointing to Jesus in everything he said and did!
Jesus even talked about John the Baptist in Matthew 11:1-19. After being imprisoned John seemed to have doubts that Jesus was the One to come. He was not able to see all that Jesus was doing, so Jesus comforted him and assured him that He had completed his work for the Lord.
“When John heard in prison what Christ was doing, he sent his disciples to ask him, “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?”
Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.”
Jesus then says this about John:
“This is the one about whom it is written:
” ‘I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’ I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it. For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John.”
Before the miracle where Jesus feeds 5,000 people with only 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish, John was beheaded by King Herod. You will find that history lesson recorded in Matthew 14:1-12.
John the Baptist did his duty for the Lord all the way to death. The Lord created him to fulfill a prophecy that was written hundreds of years before his time, so he could prepare the way for Jesus, and that is exactly what John did!
My prayer is that all of us who believe would be like John the Baptist and always point to Jesus as we become less and He becomes more! It’s all about Jesus because Jesus is Lord! Jesus is our salvation and that is the number one truth John wanted the world to know!
Grace and peace to you all!