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John's Last Days
by Wayne Blank
"John answered, "No one can receive anything except what is given him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before Him. He who has the bride is the bridegroom; the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom's voice; therefore this joy of mine is now full. He must increase, but I must decrease." He who comes from above is above all; he who is of the earth belongs to the earth, and of the earth he speaks; he who comes from heaven is above all." (John 3:27-31 RSV)
John's Last Days
John the Baptist was a fearless (of man, that is - he righteously feared God, which made him fearless of any man) servant of God. He spoke the Truth, plainly, bluntly, to all. That included to Herod Antipas, tetrarch of Galilee (see The Herods), who arrested and imprisoned John in the fortress of Machaerus, located in the southern part of Perea, east of the Dead Sea, the place where John would spend his remaining days:
"For Herod had seized John and bound him and put him in prison, for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife; because John said to him, "It is not lawful for you to have her." (Matthew 14:3-4 RSV)
The Baptism of Jesus, by John, was the point that marked the ending of John's ministry, and the beginning of Jesus' ministry. As John himself in effect stated above, the "world" was not big enough for both of them. It was not long after that John was imprisoned, as recorded in the verses above. Even in prison however, John did manage to keep informed of the progress of the just-beginning, as yet little-known ministry of The One that the famous John had prepared the way for:
"Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to Him, "Are You He who is to come, or shall we look for another?"
John's inevitable martyrdom (God could have rescued him anytime, but why would He have done that? John by then had successfully fulfilled the reason that he was miraculously born to his past the time of having children parents i.e. Luke 1:7,11-17, see also Elizabeth) came about, despite Herod's fear that killing such a popular prophet would cause an uprising, through Herodias:
"And though he wanted to put him to death, he feared the people, because they held him to be a prophet."