TEEN TREE          OF LIFE

THE MINISTRY OF  JOHN THE BAPTIST

Part 1

September 20, 2020

 

 

Before you begin, ask yourself a very important question: Do you believe that Jesus Christ died on The Cross for all of your sins? If you answered yes, you will need to be sure that you are filled with The Holy Spirit. How do you do this? You name your sins to God The Father in His Son’s Name. This is called Rebound. As a Christian, you must rebound any time you sin. This is taught in 1 JOH 1:9: If we confess [name] our sins [directly to God], He [God] is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins andto cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Now, if you have never believed that Jesus Christ died on The Cross for all of your sins, all you have to do is say to yourself that you believe in Him and you are saved! The Bible verse which teaches us this is ACTS 16:31: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.”

 

Tiberius Caesar had been ruling for 15 years. Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea. Herod was the ruler of Galilee. His brother Philip was the ruler of Iturea and Traconitis. Lysanias was ruler of Abilene. Annas and Caiaphas were high priests. At that time God’s word came to John, son of Zacharias, in the desert. (LUKE 3:1-2 New International Reader’s Version) The glory days of Israel were gone. If you were a Jew living at the time about which the apostle Luke wrote, it might have seemed to you that God had lost interest in His people. While Israel had a brief period of independence under the Maccabees, they were now under Rome’s control, with Pontius Pilate serving as their governor. And it had been four centuries since there had even been a prophet.

 

There had been reports of some odd incidents about thirty years earlier, such as the elderly priest who became mute while serving in the temple who then regained his voice after his son was born. Then, about six months later, there were reports of shepherds seeing angels near Bethlehem. And some time after that, there was a report that the Magi went to worship a Baby they believed was born King of the Jews.

 

When The King was born, three men (possibly more), who were called Magi, saw a star in the east and followed it to find Him. The Magi knew the Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament, found in the books of Daniel and Isaiah. (Messianic means having to do with the Messiah.) According to the original Hebrew and Greek translations of the scripture, these men were ‘Magi’ (plural for ‘magus‘). This name was given by the people of the east to wise men like teachers, priests, physicians, astrologers, interpreters of dreams, and sorcerers. So we know that these men were well-educated, or the “scientists” of their time. And that they were experts on the stars and astrology. These Magi were also educated on the historical writings of the people in the region, including the prophecies from the Old Testament.

 

The fact that the Magi went to worship a Baby, kindled hope that The Messiah had come. But nothing had happened since those events nearly thirty years before, so maybe Herod the Great had actually killed The Messiah in his attempt to slaughter all of the baby boys in Bethlehem.

 

All of this had been going on in the nation of Israel when John – known as the Baptizer or Baptist – burst onto the scene around 26 A.D. As the son of Zacharias and Elizabeth, John was in the priestly line of Levites. When Zacharias named his son John, he also prophesied concerning Him: “And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High God. You will go ahead of the Lord to prepare the way for him. You will tell his people how they can be saved. You will tell them that their sins can be forgiven. All of that will happen because our God is tender and caring. His kindness will bring the rising sun to us from heaven. It will shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death. It will guide our feet on the path of peace.” (LUK 1:76-79 New International Reader’s Version)

 

The apostles Mark, Luke and Matthew each wrote their own account about the “voice calling out in the wilderness” – John the Baptist. Here is Matthew’s account: In those days John the Baptist came and preached in the Desert of Judea. He said, “Turn away from your sins! The kingdom of heaven has come near.” John is the one Isaiah the prophet had spoken about. He had said, “A messenger is calling out in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord. Make straight paths for him.’” (Isaiah 40:3) John’s clothes were made out of camel’s hair. He had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea. They also came from the whole area around the Jordan River.  When they confessed their sins, John baptized them in the Jordan. (MATT 3:1-6 New International Reader’s Version)

 

He sounds very interesting and unique, doesn’t he?? At this point in time, John is about 30 years old – the proper age for a priest to begin his public ministry; and he begins it as the first prophet since Malachi! Everything about John pointed to him being a prophet like the ones of long ago. But John was chosen to be a particular prophet who came in fulfillment of ISA 40:1-5  New International Reader’s Version: “Comfort my people,” says your God. “Comfort them. Speak tenderly to the people of Jerusalem. Announce to them that their hard labor has been completed. Tell them that their sin has been paid for. Tell them the Lord has punished them enough for all their sins.” A messenger is calling out, “In the desert prepare the way for the Lord. Make a straight road through it for our God. Every valley will be filled in. Every mountain and hill will be made level. The rough ground will be smoothed out. The rocky places will be made flat. Then the glory of the Lord will appear. And everyone will see it together. The Lord has spoken.”

 

This particular passage occurs at the beginning of a long discourse in Isaiah. In those verses, God tells the Jews that although they will be carried off to Babylon because of their sins, there is still hope because He is greater than the passing events of history. In fact, He is the one that controls history: Have you not been paying attention? Have you not been listening? Haven’t you heard these stories all your life? Don’t you understand the foundation of all things? God sits high above the round ball of earth. The people look like mere ants. He stretches out the skies like a canvas—yes, like a tent canvas to live under. He ignores what all the princes say and do. The rulers of the earth count for nothing. Princes and rulers don’t amount to much. Like seeds barely rooted, just sprouted, They shrivel when God blows on them. Like flecks of chaff, they’re gone with the wind. (ISA 40:21-24 The Message Bible)

 

Israel was still God’s chosen people. He had not rejected them and He would help them as we learn in Isaiah 41:9-10 New International Reader’s Version: I gathered you from one end of the earth to the other. From the farthest places on earth I brought you together. I said, ‘You are my servants.’ I have chosen you. I have not turned my back on you. So do not be afraid. I am with you. Do not be terrified. I am your God. I will make you strong and help you. I will hold you safe in my hands. I always do what is right. Yes, God will always do what’s right – without question! He would send His Servant, The Messiah and in doing so, He would deliver them from sin: “Take a good look at my servant. I’m backing him to the hilt. He’s the one I chose, and I couldn’t be more pleased with him. I’ve bathed him with my Spirit, my life. He’ll set everything right among the nations. He won’t call attention to what he does with loud speeches or gaudy parades. He won’t brush aside the bruised and the hurt and he won’t disregard the small and insignificant, but he’ll steadily and firmly set things right. He won’t tire out and quit. He won’t be stopped until he’s finished his work—to set things right on earth. Far-flung ocean islands wait expectantly for his teaching.” (ISA 42:1-3 The Message Bible).

 

But before The Messiah would come, John the Baptist would prepare the way with his ministry; and through his message of repentance, he would prepare the way of The Lord. Any great work of God begins with great preparation. John wonderfully fulfilled this important ministry!

 

Now, John was not among those favored by the chief priests in Jerusalem who spoke in the temple or in the synagogues there. But John preached in different areas as LUKE 3:3 tells us: And he came into all the district around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The apostle Matthew describes the places in which John preached as in the wilderness of Judea.” (MATT 3:1)

 

{to be continued}

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