John The Baptist
"In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the desert of Judea and saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near." This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah, "A voice of one calling in the desert, "Prepare the way for The Lord, make straight paths for Him." (Matthew 3:1-3)
John the Baptist is one of the best-known people of The Bible. And for good reason - he played a unique role in what, and Who, was to come. He was considered very highly by Jesus Christ, Who said about him, "Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist." (Matthew 11:11). One certainly couldn't get a more rock-solid personal reference than that.
John was a prophet whose own coming was prophesied by an earlier prophet (see Prophecy) over 700 years before (Isaiah 40:3-5) - yet another illustration of God's step-by-step Plan.
- John was a Levite. His father Zechariah was a Temple priest of the line of Abijah, and his mother Elizabeth was also descended from Aaron (Luke 1:5).
- Jesus Christ and John the Baptist were related. Their mothers, Mary and Elizabeth, were cousins. (Luke 1:36).
- John the Baptist was born 6 months before Jesus Christ (Luke 1:36). He died about 6 months before Jesus Christ (Matthew 14:10-12).
- The angel Gabriel separately announced the coming births of Jesus Christ and John the Baptist.
- John lived in the mountainous area of Judah, between Jerusalem and the Dead Sea (Matthew 3:1). "John's clothes were made of camel's hair (see Ships Of The Desert), and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey." (Matthew 3:4).
- John had a popular ministry. "People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea, and the whole region of The Jordan. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River (in photo above). (Matthew 3:5-6).
- John the Baptist humbly baptized Jesus Christ (imagine the honor of being the one to do that). "Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter Him, saying, "I need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me? Jesus replied, "Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness." (Matthew 3:13-15)
- John's ministry became so popular that some wondered if he was the messiah. He answered, "I am not the Christ, but I am sent ahead of Him." (John 3:28). With the ministry of Jesus Christ then begun, John recognized that his own mission was nearing its end: "He must become greater; I must become less." (John 3:30)
- John's ministry, and life, came to an end when he admonished Herod (see The Herods) for his sinful behavior (Luke 3:19-20). He was imprisoned at Machaerus, a fortress about 9 miles (15 kilometers) east of the Dead Sea. There, he was beheaded.
- After he was killed, John's disciples came and buried his body, and then went and told Jesus all that had happened (Matthew 14:12). Jesus responded to the news of John's death by saying, "John was a lamp that burned and gave light, and you chose for a time to enjoy his light." (John 5:35)
Fact Finder: Who made the now-infamous request for "the head of John the Baptist on a platter"?