John the Baptizer

John the Baptizer

John (Jonah in Hebrew, Jonas in Aramaic) is the last in the vein of the Old Testament Prophets, even though his story is found in the Gospels. Unline the other OT Prophets, John did no predict Messiah; he announced him and introduced him to the world.

The content below is adapted from the Life Application Bible. Tyndale House Publishers owns the copyright to the Life Application Study Bible and retains all rights and privileges associated with the text.

THERE’S NO GETTING AROUND IT—John the Baptist was unique. He wore odd clothes and ate strange food and preached an unusual message to the Judeans who went out to the wastelands to see him.

But John did not aim at uniqueness for its own sake. Instead, he aimed at obedience. He knew he had a specific role to play in the world—announcing the coming of the Savior—and he put all his energies into this task. Luke tells us that John was in the wilderness when God’s word of direction came to him. John was ready and waiting. The angel who had announced John’s birth to Zechariah had made it clear that this child was to be a Nazirite—someone set apart for God’s service. John remained faithful to that calling.

This wild-looking man had no power or position in the Jewish political system, but he spoke with almost irresistible authority. People were moved by his words because he spoke the truth, challenging them to turn from their sins and baptizing them as a symbol of their repentance. They responded by the hundreds. But even as people crowded to him, he pointed beyond himself, never forgetting that his main role was to announce the coming of the Savior.

The words of truth that moved many to repentance goaded others to ridicule and resentment. John challenged even Herod to admit his sin. Consequently, Herodias, the woman Herod had married illegally, was bent on getting rid of this wilderness preacher. But though she was finally able to have John killed, she was not able to stop his message. John had accomplished his mission; the Messiah he had announced was already on the move.

God has given each of us a purpose for living, and we can trust him to guide us. John did not have the complete Bible as we know it today, but he focused his life on the truth he knew from the available Old Testament Scriptures. Likewise, we can discover in God’s Word the truths God wants us to know. And as these truths work in us, others will be drawn to him. God wants to use you in ways he will use no one else. Let him know your willingness to follow him today.

Strengths and accomplishments:

  • The messenger God appointed to announce the arrival of Jesus
  • A preacher whose theme was repentance
  • A fearless confronter
  • Known for his remarkable lifestyle
  • Uncompromising

Lessons from his life:

  • God does not guarantee an easy or safe life to those who serve him.
  • Doing what God desires is the greatest possible life investment.
  • Standing for the truth is more important than life itself.
  • Vital statistics:

Where: Judea

Occupation: Prophet

Relatives: Father: Zechariah. Mother: Elizabeth. Distant relative: Jesus.

Contemporaries: Herod Antipas, Herodias

Key verse:

“I tell you the truth, of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John the Baptist. Yet even the least person in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he is!” (Matthew 11:11)

John’s story is told in all four Gospels. His coming was predicted in Isaiah 40:3; Malachi 4:5. He is also mentioned in Acts 1:5, 22; 10:37; 11:16; 13:24-25; 18:25; 19:3-4.

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