When I began to prepare for our study of John the Baptist, I thought I would only have enough to cover one lesson. Reading the Scriptures, we find that John is covered in a relatively small part. Researching and delving into this character I found much more about him to share with you. It was fascinating, enlightening, edifying, and I found John to be one of the most important characters to date. We ended up having four weeks of studying John. Yet, we have one more week to cover.
We covered John’s parents and the miraculous events leading up to his birth.
Zechariah (also spelled Zachariah his Hebrew name) or in most New Testament translations as Zacharias (his Greek name) was from the division of Abijah. He had a wife from the daughters of Aaron. Both advanced in age and she was barren. However, through God’s providence and blessing, bore a son named John (Graced by YHWH).
As John grew, he left going into the Jordan desert, where he prepared for his ministry, as prophesied in the Old Testament by Isaiah and Malachi.
Mark 1:2–3 (ESV) Isiah 40:3
2 As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, “Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way, 3 the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,’”
People heard about John and came to hear him preach, knowing that he was not a soft-spoken, well dressed, mild-mannered person. His dress and diet of locust and honey was a reproach to the priesthood and their worldliness.
He preached very boldly and had many disciples, that is until Jesus appears on the scene. John baptizes Jesus and then tells his disciples to follow Jesus and bows out of the picture with one exception. Herod imprisoned John because of his bold reproach.
Josephus tells us that the prison’s name was Machaerus. Ironically enough Machaerus means sword. God’s Word is a Sword. Herod protected John as he feared his popularity with the people. However, later when Herodias’s daughter, Salome, danced for Antipas he had to fulfill her wish as he promised. After asking her mother what she should ask for, told Antipas she wanted the head of John the Baptist immediately. Reluctantly, Herod ordered this and it was at this same prison that the executioner beheaded John and brought it to Salome.
Of all the characters we studied so far and indeed of all in the Bible, we find John was the greatest of all. He was the forerunner of Christ, who prepared the way of the Lord to make His paths straight.
Jesus Himself said,
Matthew 11:11 (ESV)
11 Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist.
What does that mean for us? You need to be at Lighthouse’s Adult Bible Study next week to find out our conclusion of this great man.