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Breaking Down John the Baptist

Updated: Feb 3

Preaching about sin and repentance nowadays can be intimidating. Believe me, this is what I do when I preach at my church. In the past, was it intimidating? It likely was but there was more fear of God then than now. Therefore, when people preached about sins and repentance in the past, more people were listening to you. However, this is not the case today. Not as many people will listen to you, but that is okay, because God knows who you are, what you do, how you think, and how you feel. God knows you better than any other being in this world. Perhaps this is the thought that carried with John the Baptist when he preached. Or perhaps not. What made his preaching so powerful?

Part of this was because of the promise of God to Zacharias, through the angel, Gabriel. Zacharias was the father of John the Baptist, and before John was born, Gabriel told Zacharias, "Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John." (Luke 1:13). If you are a Christian, you know, or will come to know, the power of prayer. If you are a parent, you have experienced the power of prayer as it manifests to fulfil your heart-felt requests on the protection of your child.

In addition, Gabriel tells Zacharias that John the Baptist will be "filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb." (Luke 1:16.). However, God also gave Zacharias specific direction on how he was to be raised, which I discussed in my previous article. Given what is written in Luke 1, and the various gospels regarding John the Baptist, Zacharias and Elizabeth kept this word to heart and raised him in the manner that the angel Gabriel had spoken.

Who was John the Baptist?

John the Baptist "came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that light to every man coming into the world."(John 1:7-9). John the Baptist was sent as a messenger to prepare the way before Jesus Christ. This was prophesied in the books of Isaiah, and Malachi. You can read about these prophecies here.

Fish net, fishing, fish
Photo Credit: Wix Media!

John the Baptist's Message

In the Gospel of Matthew, we learn that John the Baptist said, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!" (Matthew 3:1). In the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, we learn that John the Baptist spoke of repentance and sin. Read what is written in the Gospel of Luke:

Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore, every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

So the people asked him, saying, “What shall we do then?” He answered and said to them, “He who has two tunics, let him give to him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise.” Then tax collectors also came to be baptized, and said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?”

And he said to them, “Collect no more than what is appointed for you.”

Likewise the soldiers asked him, saying, “And what shall we do?”

So he said to them, “Do not intimidate anyone or accuse falsely, and be content with your wages.”

Now as the people were in expectation, and all reasoned in their hearts about John, whether he was the Christ or not, John answered, saying to all, “I indeed baptize you with water; but One mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather the wheat into His barn; but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire.” (Luke 3:7-17 NKJV)

Breaking Down the Message

To understand John the Baptist's message in Luke, you need to read across the gospels. In Matthew 3, we learn that John was speaking to the Pharisees and Sadducees that were coming to the baptism. However, Matthew's message does not include the conversations between John the Baptist and various people. Instead, Matthew says:

"I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire." (Matthew 3:1112 NKJV).

A portion of this passage, is repeated in Mark 1:7-8, "There comes One after me who is mightier than I, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to stoop down and loose. I indeed baptized you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."

Something important to note across these gospels, is that John the Baptist spoke of sin and repentance, and baptized in water, but not of the Holy Spirit. Something even more important is his message that Christ is to come. Earlier you read quotes from the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. If you noticed, you saw that portions of these quotes were in bold text. These bolded sections are referring to Jesus Christ of Nazareth, our savior. (These passages can be found above, and in Matthew 3, Mark 1, Luke 3, and John 1).

Comparing John the Baptist's Message, with Jesus Christ's Message

In the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, the authors quote John the Baptist as saying that Jesus Christ was to come. When Jesus Christ began His preaching, He would speak of repentance and sin. The Gospel of Matthew 4:17, describes this, but before I quote it, you will need some background.

When Herod (king of Judah) married Herodias, the wife of his brother (Philip), and committed other evil things, John the Baptist rebuked him, and Herod wanted to lock John the Baptist in prison. When John the Baptist was put in prison, and Jesus heard this, He left Nazareth and came to dwell in Capernaum, fulfilling the prophecy found in Isaiah 9:1-2:

The land of Zebulun and

the land of Naphtali,

By the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan,

Galilee of the Gentiles:

The people who sat in darkness

have seen a great light,

And upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death

Light has dawned.

Now that you have a brief background, here is what Matthew 4:17 says, "From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand". Remember how I had mentioned earlier that in Matthew 3:1, we see that John the Baptist says, "Repent, for the kingdom of of heaven is at hand!"? Hallelujah!

John the Baptist and Jesus Christ's messages were similar, but John the Baptist is not your savior, Jesus Christ of Nazareth is! Hallelujah! And while their messages were similar, they were not exactly the same. They both said, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!" (Matthew 3:1, and Matthew 4:17).

But Jesus Christ took the cross for you. He died for your sins, and Jesus gave us better understanding on sin, the kingdom of heaven, and more. For example, Jesus Christ said that while the Old Testament speaks to committing adultery, "But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart." (Matthew 5:27-29). Jesus Christ even taught us how to defeat sin, "If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your member perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell." Matthew 5:29.

This does not mean to take out your eyes. This means that find out what your sin is and find the underlying cause of that sin, repent and sin no more! Hallelujah! So, pour down that drink into the sink, burn out that cigarette and come to Jesus Christ. I do not care what you have done, because you can still be forgiven. Jesus Christ can, and will forgive you! My question for you is, what are you waiting for?

Accepting Jesus Christ as Your Savior

Say this prayer:

Jesus Christ, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead, and ascended to Heaven. I turn from my sins and invite You to come into my heart and life. I want to trust You and follow You as my Lord and Savior. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen!

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