|| The Forerunner Announces the King
and neighbors watched as John grew up. But they said little.
God was with John as he grew strong in body and spirit. As
soon as he was old enough to leave home he ventured into the
desert until it was time to reveal himself to Israel. God was
preparing the man whose name is John, who later was called
'John the Baptist' for the ministry He had for him,
that of being the"Forerunner of the Messiah." Thirty
years later the cousins meet, when John, the son of Elizabeth
and Zacharias, baptized Jesus, the Son of God and Mary. And
that was the beginning of Jesus' special ministry on earth.
Note: This will not be a detailed
account of John the Baptist's life and ministry. This chapter
will be just a summary of the introduction of Jesus to the
public: His baptism by John. In another series in time to come
I will take up the story from here.
Isaiah 40:3 - "The voice of him
that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD,
make straight in the desert a highway for our God."
John 1:8 - "The voice of one
crying in the wilderness: 'Make straight the way of the
John 1:29 -
"Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!"
Isaiah 53:11 - "He
shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied:
by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for
he shall bear their iniquities."
Time: About 27 A.D.
Place: In the area of the Jordan River
Persons: John, a crowd of onlookers, and
Scripture: Matthew 3:1-17; Mark 1:9-11;
Luke3:21-23; John 1:29-34
John the Baptist, "The
voice of one crying in the wilderness," and Jesus
Christ, "the Savior of mankind,"
meet at last. * * *
days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of
Judea, and saying, 'Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at
hand! Prepare ye the way of the Lord; Make His paths
And this is the first we have heard of
John, the son of Elizabeth and Zacharias, since the
announcement of his birth, nearly three decades ago.
"Have you heard? There is this wild man...he has just come
out of the desert. And you should hear how he talks...and what
he is saying...and what he wears...and what he eats! He wears
clothes made from camel's hair, bound with a leather belt...his
hair is long and straggly...his diet is locusts and wild honey.
...And can you imagine this? He shouts out this strange message
...something about repentance...and preparing the way for some
great Prophet...the Messiah, of all things! ...And he is even
dipping people in the water! It's absolutely crazy! He is a
The news spread like wildfire around the area, in Judea and
Jerusalem. Spectators from the regions all around the Jordan
came out in hordes to see this wild man and to hear what his
message was all about.
"You must repent and be
baptized. The Kingdom of God is at hand...There is One coming
after me who is mightier than I. Why, I am not worthy even to
undo His shoes! It is He that you must prepare for...Yes. I
baptize with water, but He who is about to appear, will
baptize you with the Holy Spirit." John the Baptist's voice,
with no need for a loud speaker, boomed forth. "Repent!
Repent!" His voice, like thunder, reached the ears of the
crowds who had gathered. Even those who lived round about, and
had no desire to listen, could not help but hear.
could it all mean? Many hearing this strange message took it
to heart, expressing genuine repentance for their sins. They
accepted this baptism that John taught. Some out of the crowd
just listened out of curiosity at this strange new doctrine.
And some--the Pharisees and Sadducees and religious
leaders--came to hear what this radical had to say, to
When John saw the Pharisees and the Sadducees coming, he
had a special message for them: "What are you doing here, you
bunch of snakes. Who has warned you to flee from the
judgement to come? Oh yes, I know your story. You know the
Law. You teach it. And you rest on your laurels that you have
Abraham as your father. Well, let me tell you, you 'religious'
hypocrites, God could raise up stones to be the
children of Abraham if He wanted to. Those LAWS that you claim
to follow, will not gain your repentance, nor pave your way to
heaven. Repent! Repent! The Messiah--The Saviour of
mankind--is coming. Get ready for Him."
The 'religious' leaders were taken back for a minute. But
soon they came back with a retort: "Who are you anyway? Where
did you come from? We don't recall anything from the records
about you? You are a phoney! You are not the promised
John's answer was swift. "No. I did not say I was the
"Who are you then? We haven't read about you in the
Scriptures. Where do you fit into the picture? What do you
have to say for yourself? Are you Elijah? Are you a prophet?"
"No." answered John to all these questions being fired at
him. "I am the voice of one crying in the
wilderness:' Make straight the way of the Lord' as the prophet
"Why then do you baptize, if you are not Christ, or Elijah,
or the Prophet?" the 'religionists' wanted to know.
John's answer was: "I baptize you with
water, but there stands One among you whom you do not know."
He went on to say, "He, who is coming along is far
greater than I. Soon you will see Him. He will baptize you
with the Holy Spirit. He is the Messiah. Listen to Him."
It was the very next day that John saw Jesus approaching
him. In his usual booming voice he called out, "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin
of the world." He continued to explain to the
crowd: "This is the MAN that I have been telling you about. He
is the One who is greater than I. Even though I have come
first to announce Him, and even though I was born into this
world before He was, He lived before I was ever thought of. I
have been sent to reveal Him to all of Israel� to the entire
world. That is why I have been preaching the gospel of
repentance and baptism. It is to prepare you for the Son of
God. And here He is!"
At that precise moment
Jesus approached John, asking him to baptize Him. John's
protest was loud: "No, my Lord. It is I who should be
baptized by You. And You are coming to
Jesus simply replied: "Permit it to be
so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all
righteousness." Jesus was explaining to John,
before the crowd gathered by the River Jordan on that day,
that He had come to fulfill the Law of Moses. He was showing
to the crowd that John's baptism was necessary as a testimony
to true repentance. Jesus had nothing to repent of, but He was
setting an example to all those before Him.
Humbled, John baptized Jesus before the crowd. Just as
Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens opened, and John
saw the Spirit of God, like a dove, descend on Jesus.
Suddenly, he heard a voice from heaven saying, "This is My Beloved Son, in whom I am well
God had announced to the world that Jesus was His Son. It
was time for Christ's public ministry to begin. But wait!
First He must pass a crucial test.
Almost immediately after His baptism, Jesus disappeared
from the crowd. He was led by the Spirit of God into the
wilderness, where He was tempted of the devil for forty days.
Jesus must prove to Satan--the father of evil--that he could
not gain dominion over Him--the Son of man and the Son of God.
Satan would have liked nothing better than to have God's plan
for the salvation of man to fail.
But Jesus did not fail. He passed the ultimate test.
He exibited to Satan that He was the Son of God. He
demonstrated to him that the Son of God had power over the
devil and his wiles.
Conclusion of this series. Please watch for upcoming
stories on Jesus' public ministry.