THE MINISTRY OF
JOHN THE BAPTIST
November 1, 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 and to 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.”
The purpose of John the Baptist’s Ministry was to point the people to The Messiah. The apostle John wrote about this in JOH 1:6-8: There [came into being] came a man sent from God, whose name was John. [This one] He came [for testimony]as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe through him. [That one] He was not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light.
John preached about the fruit of repentance which is simply what results in having The Mind of Christ. The fruit of repentance includes sharing what you have with those in need. It’s being honest in your work, being content with what you have and not stealing from or lying about others. This was an important part of what John The Baptist preached as the forerunner of The Lord Jesus Christ. LUK 3:10-14 (The Message Bible) records John the Baptist’s answers to the questions of those who came to check out what he was teaching: The crowd asked him, “Then what are we supposed to do?” “If you have two coats, give one away,” he said. “Do the same with your food.” Tax men also came to be baptized and said, “Teacher, what should we do?” He told them, “No more extortion—collect only what is required by law.” Soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?” He told them, “No shakedowns, no blackmail—and be content with your rations.”
JOH 1:19-27 (New International Reader’s Version) also records more of what was going on in the wilderness: The Jewish leaders in Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask John who he was. John spoke the truth to them. He did not try to hide the truth. He spoke to them openly. He said, “I am not the Messiah.” They asked him, “Then who are you? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet we’ve been expecting?” they asked. “No,” he answered. They asked one last time, “Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” John replied, using the words of Isaiah the prophet. John said, “I’m the messenger who is calling out in the desert, ‘Make the way for the Lord straight.’” (Isaiah 40:3) The Pharisees who had been sent asked him, “If you are not the Messiah, why are you baptizing people? Why are you doing that if you aren’t Elijah or the Prophet we’ve been expecting?” “I baptize people with water,” John replied. “But someone is standing among you whom you do not know. He is the one who comes after me. I am not good enough to untie his sandals.” And of course, John was talking about The Messiah – Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
At that time, the baptism was a public display to show that those being baptized recognized their need for forgiveness. They were essentially preparing their hearts for Our Savior’s arrival. When the time came for The Lord Jesus Christ to start His Ministry, John pointed his own disciples (students, followers) to Christ and encouraged them to follow Him: The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him. John said, “Look! The Lamb of God! He takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I was talking about. I said, ‘A man who comes after me is more important than I am. That’s because he existed before I was born.’ I did not know him. But God wants to make it clear to Israel who this person is. That’s the reason I came baptizing with water.” Then John told them, “I saw the Holy Spirit come down from heaven like a dove. The Spirit remained on Jesus. I myself did not know him. But the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘You will see the Spirit come down and remain on someone. He is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen it happen. I am a witness that this is God’s Chosen One.” The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. He saw Jesus walking by. John said, “Look! The Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him say this. So they followed Jesus. (JOH 1: 1:29-37 New International Reader’s Version)
Notice first that John the Gospel-writer sets up a contrast between John’s baptism with water and Jesus’s Baptism with The Spirit. Let’s look at how he does this. In JOH 1:31 John The Baptist is quoted as saying: “I did not know him. But God wants to make it clear to Israel who this person is. That’s the reason I came baptizing with water.” John is emphasizing the great “NOT” theme that ran through his life: Not the Christ. Not the prophet. Not Elijah reincarnate. Not the great knower of Jesus. Just a voice saying, “Get ready to meet the God of ISAIAH 40 in human form.”
Amazingly, the Gospel of John does not report the actual baptism of Jesus Christ but we know from the other Gospels that the decent of the dove happened at Jesus’s baptism: After He was baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and settling on Him… (MATT 3:16) John the apostle simply writes that the Spirit came like a dove — without mentioning Jesus’s baptism. This may be because the apostle’s message focuses on one thing: The Baptism of The Holy Spirit which is one of seven Salvation Ministries by God The Holy Spirit. At the moment of Salvation, the Baptism of The Holy Spirit, by means of His Omnipotence, enters the believer into union with Christ, making the Church-Age believer a part of the Royal Family of God forever. The apostle Paul write this about baptism: All of us were baptized into Christ Jesus. Don’t you know that we were baptized into his death? By being baptized, we were buried with Christ into his death. Christ has been raised from the dead by the Father’s glory. And like Christ we also can live a new life. By being baptized, we have been joined with him in a death like his. So we will certainly also be joined with him in a resurrection like his. We know that what we used to be was nailed to the cross with him. That happened so our bodies that were ruled by sin would lose their power. So we are no longer slaves of sin. (ROM 6:3-6 New International Reader’s Version)
Now, as we’ve studied, John had also confronted many of the Jewish religious leaders – the Pharisees and Sadducees – who questioned what he was preaching. King Herod was the ruling Judean monarch at the time and he was extremely interested in John the Baptist’s preaching. Herod was also furious that John had actually been bold enough to condemn him for marrying his brother’s wife. The King’s reaction to all that was going on is recorded in MATT 14:1-5 (New International Reader’s Version): At that time Herod, the ruler of Galilee and Perea, heard reports about Jesus. He said to his attendants, “This is John the Baptist. He has risen from the dead! That is why he has the power to do miracles.” Herod had arrested John. He had tied him up and put him in prison because of Herodias. She was the wife of Herod’s brother Philip. John had been saying to Herod, “It is against the Law for you to have her as your wife.” Herod wanted to kill John. But he was afraid of the people, because they thought John was a prophet.
John the Baptist didn’t pull any punches. He called sin, sin so he wasn’t shy about criticizing King Herod for marrying his brother’s wife. After spending some time in his prison cell, John sent some of his disciples to Christ. He wanted to receive confirmation about Our Lord and Savior’s Work and Mission: John the Baptist was in prison. When he heard about the actions of the Messiah, he sent his disciples to him. They asked Jesus, “Are you the one who is supposed to come? Or should we look for someone else?” Jesus replied, “Go back to John. Report to him what you hear and see. Blind people receive sight. Disabled people walk. Those who have skin diseases are made ‘clean.’ Deaf people hear. Those who are dead are raised to life. And the good news is preached to those who are poor. Blessed is anyone who does not give up their faith because of me.” (MATT 11:2-6 New International Reader’s Version)
John the Baptist eventually met his death while in prison. His horrific death is recorded in MATT 14:6-12: But when Herod’s birthday came, the daughter of Herodias danced before them and pleased Herod, so much that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she asked. And after being prompted by her mother, she said, “Give me the head of John the Baptist here on a platter.” And although he was grieved, the king commanded it to be given because of his oaths and his dinner guests. He sent word and had John beheaded in the prison. And his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother. John’s disciples came and took away the body and buried it; and they went and reported to Jesus.
John’s motivation in life was to do God’s will and he did it without question. Look at what The Lord Jesus Christ said about him in MATT 11:11: Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist! No matter what John lost in his time on earth, he gained far more for Eternity, because he was a faithful servant of God. John’s life is an example of a life completely devoted to God. He was born, lived his life and died doing what God had planned for him. John provides a great role model for living the Christian life because he put his entire life in God’s Hands and God used him to do great things.