John the Baptist was a man who during his ministry always took care to bring sinners to the Lamb of God (Jn 1:29). In this Bible Study have a clearer explanation of the life and mission of this great prophet.
Who Was John the Baptist?
John the Baptist was a man chosen and set apart by God for a purpose. Which was, prepare the people of Israel for the coming of Jesus Christ (Lk 1:15-17; Jn 1:6-7). The Savior proclaimed by the holy scriptures, who through Him, God would offer forgiveness and reconciliation to all the nations of the earth (Is 53:5-6, 11). Therefore, God used this prophet to give knowledge of salvation and forgiveness of sins through Jesus Christ (Lk 1:77).
His calling consisted in preaching and the baptism of repentance (Mt 3:1-3, 11, Mk 1:4-5, Lk 3:3).
The main theme of his preaching was “Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Mt 3:1-2). In other words, what he meant was “Repent of your sins and turn to God”.
To repent means to give a turn to our lives, where the one who lies, stops lying, who steals, stops stealing, who commits immoral sexual acts, stops doing it. This is usually due to rebellion and being separated from God, leads us to commit acts that God hates, such as lying, stealing, slandering, revenge, hold grudges, commit sexual immorality, etc (Pr 6:16-19; 1 Co 6:9-10, Eph 5:5, Rev 22:15).
The other part of his call consisted in the baptism for the forgiveness of sins (Mk 1:4-5, Lk 3:3), where the one who listened to the message regretted those acts of rebellion that had offended God. Therefore, that repentant person went to John to be baptized as a sign of repentance (Mt 3:6).
John Baptized in the Jordan River submerging them in water as a symbol of washing and purification. Its meaning was the death of the old way of life, full of vices and sins, resurrecting in the same way to a new life in Christ (Rom 6:4).
Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4).
Why was Jesus baptized by John the Baptist?
At first glance it makes no sense why Jesus, the perfect and sinless man, went to John to be baptized by him (Is 53:9; 2 Co 5:21; 1 Pe 2:22-24; 1 Jn 3:5). In fact, John the Baptist himself opposed him, recognizing that a sinful man like him was not worthy to baptize the perfect Son of God (Jn 1:27, Mk 1:7, Lk 3:16). Therefore, John said: “I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?” (Mt 3:14), but Jesus answered: “let it be like this now, because it is in our interest to fulfill all justice” (Mt 3:15). Thus, he referred to the Justice with which Christ dress our lives when we approach Him taking our sin and providing us his righteousness (Is 53:5-6; Rom 3:21-24, 4:25; 2 Co 5:21).
Other of the different explanations for which Jesus was baptized by John were:
- He was personally confessing the sin of the nation, as did Nehemiah, Ezra, Moses, and Daniel.
- He supported the Ministry of John the Baptist.
- He was inaugurating his Public Ministry.
- He identified with sinners even though he had never committed sin.
- By obedience to the Father.
- As an example for those who would be his disciples.
How was the Birth of John the Baptist?
The Birth of John the Baptist is found in the first chapter of the Gospel of Luke. When the angel Gabriel appeared to his father Zecharias while he was serving in the Temple (Lk 1:8-11). His birth was a relevant fact because his mother Elisabeth was a sterile woman, and both she and Zacharias were very old (Lk 1:7).
From before his birth, God had chosen John as an instrument to carry out his will (Lk 1:15-17). Even his name was chosen by God (Lk 1:13), which means “The Lord is kind”. Showing in this way the goodness of God with Zechariah and Elizabeth, who were irreproachable in the ordinances of God (Lk 1:6).
John the Baptist was full with the Holy Spirit even from the womb of his mother (Lk 1:15). He was consecrated for a special service, similar to the Nazarene vow which included neither drinking wine nor cider (Lk 1:15).
His mission was to make sinners convert to God (Lk 1:16, Jn 1:6-7, Is 40:3). Preparing in this way the people of Israel for the coming of the Messiah announced by the prophets. Who would bear the sin of the people and bring salvation.
How was the death of John the Baptist?
The prophet John the Baptist was an intrepid man, and his message confronted many (Mt 3:7-9). In such a way, that he faced the same King Herod Antipas himself for committing adultery, by marrying Herodias the wife of his brother Philip, who was governor of Trachonitis and Ituraea (Mk 6:17-18).
For this reason, Herod Antipas commanded John the Baptist to be imprisoned, because he confronted him in his sin saying: “It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother’s wife” (Mk 6:18).
The Bible says that while Herod gave a party on the occasion of his birthday, among which were his governors and important people of his government, the daughter of Herodias danced before the king and he offered him what he asked under oath (Mk 6 :21-23). Therefore, the young woman influenced by her mother asked him on a plate the head of John the Baptist (Mk 6:24).
The Herod was saddened because he admired the integrity of John (Mk 6:20). But in the end because of the oath and due to pressure from Herodias and his guests, he ordered the death of John the Baptist (Mk 6:26-28).
Characteristics of John the Baptist
Strengths and Achievements
- He was a messenger chosen by God to announce the coming of Jesus Christ.
- He was a preacher whose central theme was repentance.
- His message was confrontative.
- He had a relevant lifestyle, away from the luxuries.
- He was an unyielding and whole man for God.
Weaknesses and Errors:
- In difficult moments he had temporary doubt about the identity of Jesus.
Lessons from his life
- God does not guarantee a safe or easy life for those who serve him.
- Fulfilling the wishes of God is the greatest investment in our lives.
- Defending the truth is more important than life itself.
Summary and Reflection on the Life of John the Baptist
The life and mission of John the Baptist leaves us as a teaching, to let ourselves be used by God to lead sinners to repentance. In the same way that this audacious preacher was called to reconcile the people of Israel with God through Jesus Christ, we have the same mission today, bringing many lost souls to God through the preaching of the Gospel. Perhaps along the way we find ourselves with family opposition, difficulties and even people who hate us for serving God, but we should not feel frustrated if we see that no one is converted to Christ. For the Holy Spirit is the only one who convinces the world of of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment (Jn 16:8).
And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment (John 16:8).