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Wednesday, January 4 2012
The prophet John, more-popularly known as "John the Baptist," was the son of a righteous Levite couple ("1:5 There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth. 1:6 And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless" Luke 1:5-6 KJV; see also Are Levites 'Jews'? and No Levites In The Lost Ten Tribes?). John was born as the result of a miraculous conception ("1:7 And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years ... 1:13 But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John" Luke 1:7,13 KJV), for the purpose of preparing a following, a congregation, for the Messiah. John was "a man sent from God."
"1:6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 1:7 The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. 1:8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light." (John 1:6-8 KJV)
John's ministry was a fulfillment of a prophecy by the prophet Isaiah (see also What Did Isaiah Know About Jesus Christ?). John was to prepare the way (preaching repentance; see The Path To Glory) for The Way ("14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me" John 14:6 KJV; see also The Rock Of The Church).
"3:1 In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, 3:2 And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
John became well-known throughout the area of "Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan."
"3:5 Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, 3:6 And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins." (Matthew 3:5-6 KJV)
John's ministry was not a sugar-coated load of "patriotic" or "harlot in a pulpit" nonsense that is so typical of what calls itself "Christianity" today (see The True Gospel Of Christ). John joyously encouraged people to repent, but also warned, in plain language, what is going to happen to those who cling to their ignorance and arrogance, thinking that they can obtain salvation any way that they choose.
"3:7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 3:8 Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: 3:9 And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. 3:10 And now also the ax is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
"There was a man sent from God, whose name was John"
John's ministry became so popular that some even wondered if John was the prophesied Messiah to come (keeping in mind that the actual Messiah's ministry hadn't yet begun - He did not become known until John's ministry of preparing the way for the Messiah had ended). John made very clear that he was not the Messiah. The verses quoted below also show how people then, just as many still do today, interpret the prophecies about the "Elijah to come" as meaning that the original Elijah would return, but John also made plain that he was not Elijah - he was the "Elijah," the prophet, to come.
"1:19 And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou?
John's ministry culminated with his baptism of the Messiah. The Messiah did it, not because He needed to repent of anything, but rather to formally transfer that task of preparing the way, that God had given to John, to Jesus (John to prepare the way for the Messiah's coming; the Messiah to prepare the way for God's coming - see The True Gospel Of Christ and What Was The Lesson Of John 3:16?).
"3:13 Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. 3:14 But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?
Notice carefully who were among the people that John prepared the way e.g. a soon-to-be apostle of Jesus began as a disciple (which means student) of John i.e. "the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples ... One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother." The primary reason that the twelve were so quick to follow Jesus when He called them was because John had prepared them.
"1:29 The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. 1:30 This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me. 1:31 And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water.
Immediately after John baptized Jesus, Satan's "temptation of Christ" occurred, during which Satan mis-quoted Scripture (just as his deceived or deceiving ministers still do today; see also Who's Hiding On Your Wall? and Is Your Church A Cult?) to the Son of God.
"4:1 Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. 4:2 And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungered. 4:3 And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.
There was a brief time in which both of the ministries of John and Jesus were functioning, but only to give John time to announce that his ministry was successful - and over ("his my joy therefore is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease").
"3:22 After these things came Jesus and his disciples into the land of Judaea; and there he tarried with them, and baptized. 3:23 And John also was baptizing in Aenon near to Salim, because there was much water there: and they came, and were baptized. 3:24 For John was not yet cast into prison. 3:25 Then there arose a question between some of John's disciples and the Jews about purifying. 3:26 And they came unto John, and said unto him, Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and all men come to him.
John's disciples, and John's enemies because of the Truth that he preached, were also then transferred to Jesus.
"4:1 When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John, 4:2 (Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,) 4:3 He left Judaea, and departed again into Galilee." (John 4:1-3 KJV)
John was then arrested because of His preaching the Truth (see the Fact Finder question below), upon which Jesus, after being rejected by His hometown people at Nazareth for the same Truth that He preached (see The Hill Of Nazareth), moved to Capernaum on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee. There, the first apostles were called - including, as we read above, Andrew, the disciple of John the Baptist.
"4:12 Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee; 4:13 And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim: 4:14 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying,
There was some communication between John and Jesus after John had been "detained" (the present-day "politically correct" term for imprisoning someone), but the transfer was then in effect. John's standing in the eyes of God and the Messiah did not diminish however; in the Messiah's own words (keeping in mind that the Messiah's own ministry had then just begun), "Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist."
"11:1 And it came to pass, when Jesus had made an end of commanding his twelve disciples, he departed thence to teach and to preach in their cities.
The Messiah occasionally stayed at the very same place "beyond Jordan" (see Beyond Jordan) that John had baptized. It was the natural place for John's congregation to become followers of the One that John had prepared the way for, so "many resorted unto him." John did no miracles, but John's greatest "miracle" was to prepare the way for the Messiah.
"10:39 Therefore they sought again to take him: but he escaped out of their hand, 10:40 And went away again beyond Jordan into the place where John at first baptized; and there he abode.
As we've read, the ministry of John the Baptist had a direct and profound effect on the Ministry of the Messiah. Even the famous "Lord's Prayer" was taught by the Messiah, in answer to a question about John the Baptist.
"11:1 And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.
Fact Finder: Why was John the Baptist arrested and killed?
This Day In History, January 4
46 BC: Julius Caesar defeated Titus Labienus at the Battle of Ruspina (see also The Politics Of Rome).
41: The Roman emperor Caligula was murdered (see Pax Romana: The Birth Of The Roman Empire).
771: Upon the death of his brother Carloman, Charlemagne becomes sole ruler of the Frankish Empire - that grew into the so-called "Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation" (see The Holy Roman Empire).
871: The forces of Ethelred of Wessex were defeated by a Danish invasion army at the Battle of Reading.
1493: Christopher Columbus set sail from the New World to return to Spain on his first voyage of discovery.
1642: King Charles I of England ordered the arrest of members of Parliament, triggering England's civil war.
1643: Isaac Newton was born. According to Carl Sagan in Cosmos (listen also to our Sermon The Creator of Cosmos), Newton was "so tiny that his mother told him years later, he would have fit into a quart mug. Sickly, feeling abandoned by his parents, quarrelsome, unsociable, a virgin to the day he died, Isaac Newton was perhaps the greatest scientific genius who ever lived" (see also No 'Flat Earth' In The Bible).
1754: King's College was founded in New York. After the revolution of the New England colonies, the college was taken over and renamed as Columbia University.
1861: The Confederate States of America were formed, first consisting of South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and Louisiana - in effect, a rebellion against the states that had rebelled against Britain.
1863: During the U.S. Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln ordered General Ulysses Grant to revoke Grant's infamous "General Order Number 11" that expelled all Jews from Tennessee, Mississippi and Kentucky.
1912: The moon made its closest approach to the earth in the 20th century, 438,249 km. / 272,315 miles.
1944: The British Fifth Army launched an attack upon Monte Cassino, Italy. On the same day, Soviet troops crossed the former Polish border.
1948: Burma withdrew from the British Commonwealth and became independent after more than 100 years of British rule.
1951: During the Korean War, Chinese and North Korean troops captured Seoul, South Korea from United Nations forces.
1974: Richard Nixon refused to deliver evidence subpoenaed by the Senate Watergate Committee.
1990: Panamanian President Manuel Noriega surrendered to U.S. invasion forces after taking refuge in the Vatican Embassy.
2010: The Burj Khalifa, in the United Arab Emirates, was officially opened. At 829 meters / 2,723 feet in height, it is the world's tallest building (in comparison to former record holders, the World Trade Center Towers in New York were 1,368 feet high and Canada's CN Tower is 1,815 feet tall).