Author: Ron Graham
John the Baptizer
—And the heralding of Messiah
Time ~ 10. Coming of the Son of God
Span ~ 30 years
Books ~ Matthew, Mark, Luke, John
Figures ~ John the Baptizer, Jesus
Begins with ~ Birth of Jesus
Ends with ~ Death of Jesus
Ascendant empire ~ Rome
We have been through the first nine Times of Israel. Now we enter into the latter three in which the Messiah comes and the new Israel is established. This lesson leads us into the tenth period in the Times of Israel —the Coming of the Son of God— during which Old Testament times conclude, and New Testament times begin.
1 John, Heralding God With Us
The Son of God came into the world about 2000 years after God called Abraham. When Jesus grew to manhood, his ministry was heralded by the prophet John. John proclaimed Jesus and preached repentance, and baptism for remission of sins (Mark 1:4-8). His mission was to prepare the people for the Lord (Luke 1:16-17). After John's ministry, Jesus himself went about preaching the gospel, and healing the sick (Mark 1:14, 21-28).
Jesus was rejected by the religious leaders, however, and eventually was crucified as a common criminal although he had done no wrong. His death was a sacrifice for all sin for all time. John the Baptizer had proclaimed Jesus as "the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world" (John 1:29-30).
2 John, Bridging Two Testaments
John the Baptist is the bridge between the old and new testaments. He is usually called the "last of the Old Testament prophets". That's true, although he was also the first prophet among the Jews for 400 years! And we have to look in the New Testament to learn of John's adventures, because the Old Testament writings were completed 400 years before John appeared.
He does have a place in the Old Testament, however, and a very important place. He was the latter day "Elijah" whom Malachi predicted would come (Malachi 4:5; Matthew 11:12-15; Matthew 17:9-13; Luke 1:17; ). He was the voice of whom Isaiah spoke: "a voice of one crying out in the wilderness" (Malachi 3:1; Isaiah 40:3; Mark 1:1-8).
3 John, Killed Although Righteous
When his work was finished, John the Baptizer suffered an unjust execution "Herod sent and had John beheaded in the prison. His head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she gave it to her mother (Herod's wife). John's disciples came and took the body away and buried it, and they went and told Jesus" (Matthew 14:1-13). This wicked killing foreshadowed the unjust execution of the Messiah himself.
4 A few facts about John the Baptist
- Descendant of Levi and Aaron, son of Zacharias the priest. Like Abraham and Sarah, Zacharias and Elizabeth were elderly and childless when an angel of the Lord promised that John would be born to them. (Luke 1:5-25,41,57-80).
- The "Elijah" who was to come (Malachi 4:5, Matthew 11:12-15,Matthew 17:9-13, Luke 1:17) —not Elijah reincarnated or resurrected (John 1:19-23, note verse 21) but Elijah’s antitype who came in the same spirit and power.
- Like Samson, John was under a lifetime vow of abstinence from all strong drink (Luke 1:15, Judges 13:3-7). Note also his food and clothing (Matthew 3:4, 2Kings 1:8)
- Preached and practised "a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins" (Mark 1:4) -as is Christ's baptism (Acts 2:38). However, those baptized by John had to be later also baptized into Christ (Acts 19:1-7).
- He was called upon to baptize God's Son (Matthew 3:13-17).
- Bore testimony to Jesus as the Christ (John 1:6-9,15-37).
- Beheaded by Herod Antipas (Herod the tetrarch) because of a foolish carte blanche oath Herod swore to his wife's dancing daughter (Matthew 14:1-13, Mark 6:14-29). Note: The Irish playwright Oscar Wilde wrote a play in 1891 about this story. He named the girl, and the play, "Salome". The name "Salome" is not given to Herod's stepdaughter in the Bible, but in Josephus's Jewish Antiquities (Book XVIII, Chapter 5, 4).
- A revivalist who had the courage to "tell it like it is" (Matthew 3:1-12). John's fiery preaching turned many sinners to righteousness and made "a people prepared for the Lord" (Luke 1:16-17).