John the Baptist

Who was John the Baptist?

John the Baptist
John 1:14-18 The Word Became Flesh

John 1:19-28 John the Baptist

John 1:29-34 Lamb of God
JOHN 1:19  19 And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?”

Who is “John” (John 1:19)?
John the Baptist. John who wrote this Gospel is writing about another John.

Who is John the Baptist?
John the Baptist is the prophet born to a priest named Zacharias and his wife Elizabeth (see Zacharias and Angel).

Why is John called “the Baptist”?
He was baptizing people, and because of it, the Jewish leaders (“Jews”) had sent “priests and Levites” to check him out.

JOHN 1:20-22  20 And he confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” 21 And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.” 22 They therefore said to him, “Who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?”

Why do they ask John the Baptist if he is “Elijah” or “the Prophet”?
The Jewish people were waiting for the arrival of three people prophesied in the Old Testament: (A) the Anointed Savior, which is “Messiah” in Hebrew and “Christ” (John 1:20) in Greek, in which the New Testament was written; (B) prophet Elijah just before the Messiah/Christ (“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrifying day of the LORD” - Malachi 4:5); and (C) the “Prophet”: “The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from among you, from your brethren. Him you shall hear” (Deuteronomy 18:15). Since John the Baptist said he wasn't the Christ, they are asking him if he is either of the latter two.

Who is the “Prophet like me” (Deuteronomy 18:15)?
God used Moses to deliver the Jews from bondage in Egypt. Moses was prophesying about the One who would deliver them from their bondage to sin.

JOHN 1:23  23 He said, “I am ‘The voice of one shouting in the wilderness: “Make straight the way of the Lord,” ’ as Isaiah the prophet said.”

What is John the Baptist saying above?
He is answering by referring to Isaiah, who had prophesied: “Be comforted, be comforted, My people!” says your God. “Speak tenderly to Jerusalem and proclaim to her that her warfare is ended, that her sin is pardoned; for she has received from the LORD’s hand double for all her sins.” The voice of one shouting in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God” (Isaiah 40:1-3).

What is the context of this declaration?
The book of Isaiah was written for the Jews returning to the promised land from exile. The first 39 chapters of Isaiah emphasize God’s judgment. The passage quoted above (from Isaiah chapter 40) marks the shift to the comfort that God will provide and alludes to Jesus coming to save His people (see Isaiah 53).

So what is John the Baptist saying about himself?
When a king traveled during the antiquity, a herald ran ahead of him to clear the path and to prepare the people to welcome the coming king, not unlike motorcycle policemen with lights flashing and sirens on riding ahead of a presidential motorcade today. John is identifying himself as that herald for the coming “Lord” (John 1:23). This was his God-given role that the angel Gabriel announced to his father Zacharias before John was even born (see Elijah).

How else will the people prepared be?
See Prepare the Way of the Lord.

JOHN 1:24-27  24 Now those who had been sent were from the Pharisees. 25 And they asked him and said to him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” 26 John answered them, saying, “I baptize in water, but there stands One among you whom you do not know. 27 It is He who, coming after me, ranks higher than me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose.”

Who are “the Pharisees” (John 1:24)?
See Pharisees.

What is John the Baptist saying about the “sandal strap” (John 1:27)?
In those days, the roads were nothing more than dirt paths littered with animal excrement, and foot coverings were crude sandals. Given how dirty people’s feet became from walking through the dust and excrement, the job of washing someone else’s feet was considered so low that only the lowest slaves were obliged to perform it. John the Baptist is saying that compared to Jesus, he is so worthless that he isn’t even worthy to be Jesus’ foot washing slave.

JOHN 1:28  28 These things were done in Bethabara beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing.

What and where are “Bethabara” and “Jordan” (John 1:28)?
Bethabara was a baptismal site on the other (east) side of Jordan, which is the river that runs along the eastern border of Israel.

John was born to serve God as His herald. What is your life's God-given, God-serving mission?

Are you living out that mission? If not, why not?

If you are living out that mission, are you doing it with John’s perception of his own worth?