JOHN THE BAPTIST, FAITHFUL JESUS PREPARER
Matthew 3:1 speaks of “John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea.” “This is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” (Matthew 3:3; Isaiah 40:3). Thus, Matthew introduces John the Baptist, Greek, “BAPTISTES,…a baptizer.” (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, p. 97). Luke Introduces us to John in chapter one of his first “treatise” to “Theophilus.” (Acts 1:1; Luke 1:3). Luke describes his writings as “a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us.” (Luke 1:1). Those faithful to God were united in belief and teaching (1 Corinthians 1:10; John 17:20-23), because they “were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word;…having had a perfect understanding of all things from the very first,….” (Luke 1:2, 3). Therefore, they could “know the certainty of those things.” (Verse 4).
Notice how Luke introduces John. First, he tells of his parents. His father, “Zacharias”, was a “priest” “of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth.” (Verse 5). Second, “they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord, blameless.” (Verse 6). Blameless, Greek, “AMEPTOS,…irreproachable:–blameless, faultless, unblameable.” (Strong’s, p. 129). Please notice the difference between sinless and blameless. No human is sinless (Romans 3:10, 12, 23), but all can be blameless, faithful, when there is a realization of sin and genuine repentance. (1 John 1:7-10; 2:1; 2 Corinthians 7:8-11). Only Jesus was sinless. (1 Peter 2:22-24). Third, Zacharias “executed the priest’s office before God.” (Verse 8). He was able, busy, and faithful. Verses 11, 12 indicate the respect and awe Zacharias had when he saw an angel. Verse 13 may imply that Zacharias, childless (Verse 7), was praying for a child, possibly, a son. Fourth, the angel told Zacharias that he would have a son, and that his name would be John. (Verse 13). Fifth, John’s life and work were described in verses 14-17: John would bring joy, be “great in the sight of the Lord”, be self-controlled, filled with the Holy Ghost, a great motivator, have the spirit and power of Elijah, and prepare the way for Jesus. Because of his doubt, Zacharias was unable to speak until he named the baby John as the angel told him. (Verse 20). Elizabeth’s response to Mary’s announcement that she would bear the Son of God, reveals her deep and abiding faith in God and His plan for John and Jesus, and also her acceptance of her son’s secondary role.
When Elizabeth’s baby was born, “her neighbors and her cousins…called him Zacharias, after the name of his father. And his mother answered and said, Not so; but his name shall be called John.” (Verses 57-60). Appeal was made to Zacharias for a name, and he wrote, “His name is John.” (Verse 63). His tongue was then loosed, and he “praised God.” (Verse 64). Hearers of this said, “What manner of child shall this be!” (Verse 66). “And the hand of the Lord was with him.” (Ibid). “Zacharias” was “filled with the Holy Ghost” and “prophesied.” (Verse 67-79). “And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the desert till the day of his shewing unto Israel.” (Verse 80).
It is no wonder that John was the man he was. What parents he had! Would to God that every child had such godly parents. Sadly, most children are born with two, even three, strikes against them. It is no wonder that so many turn out to be losers, sinful. And the world wonders, WHY??????
Attention is now briefly turned to the short existence of John, whose life was full of powerful, preparatory, presentations concerning Jesus. John knew that Jesus would increase, while he decreased. (John 3:30). In spite of this knowledge, we see John “in the wilderness of Judaea” (Luke 18:1; 3:2; Matthew 3:1) preaching (Matthew 3:1) to people of “Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan.” (Matthew 3:5). “John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.” (Mark 1:4). The response was that they “were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins.” (Mark 1:5). John “preached, saying, There cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes, I am not worthy to stoop down and release.” (Verse 7). Jesus even came to John to be baptized of him. (Verse 9; Matthew 3:13-17). Many thought John was Jesus, but John continued to point them to Jesus (Luke 3:15-17; John 1), and the coming kingdom. (Matthew 3:2).
“There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.” (John 1:6). He “came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light…the true Light.” (John 1:7-9). John continued to point man to Jesus, while declaring his role as the preparer. (READ and stress this in John 1:10-37; 3:23-36). Cf. also. John 5:33, 36; 10:41. John faithfully preached the truth, even when it led to his imprisonment and death. (Matthew 14:3, 4, 8-11).
Jesus placed his stamp of approval on John. (Matthew 17:10-13).
One who faithfully preaches and teaches will “preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine”, whether people “endure sound doctrine”, or not. (2 Timothy 4:2-5).
The lost must be led to hear the word of God (Romans 10:17), believe in God and Jesus (Hebrews 11:6; John 8:24), repent of sins (Acts 3:19; 17:30, 31), confess God and Jesus (Acts 8:37), and obey the command to be baptized (Acts 10:48), by burial in water (Romans 6:1-5; Acts 8:38, 39), for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16), to enter Christ (Galatians 3:26, 27) and His Church (1 Corinthians 12:13), with the Lord doing the adding. (Acts 2:41, 47).
The saved are then to be taught that they are “newborn babes” who are to “desire the sincere milk of the word” to “grow thereby.” (1 Peter 2:2; 2 Peter 3:18; 2 Timothy 2:15). They should be taught to turn from “the works of the flesh” (Galatians 5:19 -21) to “the fruit of the spirit” (Galatians 5:22 -26), to “put off…the old man”, and “put on the new.” (Ephesians 4:22-6:24). “Saints and faithful brethren” (Colossians 1:2) are to mortify, put to death, sinful thoughts and actions, while setting their affections on things above. (Colossians 3:1-5).
Christians will not be sinless (1 John 1:7- 10), and must be ready and willing to repent of any and all sins committed since becoming children of God. (Acts 8:22-24; James 5:16; Revelation 2:5; 2 Corinthians 7:8-11).
Preachers and teachers of the doctrine of Christ (2 John 9-11) should hide themselves behind the cross, so that hearers will leave with Jesus the Son of God on their minds, rather than the teacher’s oratorical, educational, and personality skills. Also, as the late and beloved W. A. Bradfied used to teach, Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. Do not decide for anyone who will and who will not obey; let them make that decision. Do as did the New Testament Christians: The taught taught the untaught; the disciples discipled the undiscipled; the found found the unfound; and the saved saved the unsaved.