John the Baptist | Part 1: A Special Mission
May 22, 2020
May 22, 2020
Today we’re going to begin a blog series on John the Baptist. So let’s start by asking the obvious question:
Who was John the Baptist?
As these men were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swaying in the wind? What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothes? See, those who wear soft clothes are in royal palaces. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written: See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way before you. “Truly I tell you, among those born of women no one greater than John the Baptist has appeared, but the 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 suffering violence, and the violent have been seizing it by force. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if you’re willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who is to come. Let anyone who has ears listen. (Matthew 11:7-15)
Why is “Who was John the Baptist?” an important question? Because Jesus asked it three times in this passage alone! He repeats, “What then did you go out to see?”
John the Baptist was a special man. You might already know a little bit about him. He had a miraculous birth! His father Zechariah had a crisis of faith when an angel appeared to him and told him his wife would have a baby, after waiting possibly 30 years. Did you know that Zechariah’s name means “God remembers”? Even when he was in his mother’s womb, John leapt when he heard the voice of Mary as she was visiting. He was alive and cognizant. There are many in our culture who will tell you what is in the womb is not a sentient being. It is not worthy of protection or life. But John knew what was going on, even in the womb.
John the Baptist had a special mission. He was identified with Elijah. They both dressed kind of oddly. Their attire brought attention to their mission. There are not many descriptions of clothing in the New Testament, but we know what John the Baptist wore. Their diet was a little strange as well. Elijah was fed by ravens; John the Baptist ate honey. They both preached with power. They were known as powerful preachers of repentance. Elijah demonstrated bravery in speaking to King Ahab, the most powerful man in the country. Elijah told King Ahab what he was doing in abandoning the worship of God was wrong. He put his life at risk! John the Baptist spoke to King Herod and told him, “Your marriage is wrong. You cannot marry your brother’s wife.” He was imprisoned and eventually murdered for that. Elijah stood up to 400 prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel. His life was on the line. The prophets of Baal died, and Elijah was victorious, but John the Baptist ended up giving up his life for the truth.
Stay tuned for the next blog post as we continue looking at the life of John the Baptist.
Kevin is a Pastor at Blackman Baptist Church.