Who is the greatest man ever born of a woman according to Jesus Himself? John the Baptist! (Luke 7:28) Why is this the case? Well, let’s dig in and see some important connections between John the Baptist and being a Christian.
We tend to think of Abandonment in a negative way as indeed it is when it refers to deserting friends and family. John the Baptist, however, was “abandoned” in a good way – in the sense that he was completely dedicated to the Lord with his entire life. He chose to live in poverty (his food was locusts and wild honey) and did not seek physical comfort (his garment was made of camel’s hair). He was completely consumed with a fiery passion for God and God’s mission for him.
This mission, as well as his Birth Foretold by the prophet Isaiah hundreds of years earlier, was prophesied to “prepare the way of the Lord” (Isaiah 40:3). In the spirit of Elijah, John to called people to repentance leading them in baptism as an outward sign of the inward change of them doing so. Repentance is necessary to receive Jesus so by sending John’s powerful repentance message just ahead of Jesus’ first coming we can clearly see God’s heart desire that all men would be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4).
Though John called others to repentance he was very clearly aware of his own sinfulness and need for God’s grace and mercy. He proclaimed Jesus in the wilderness, he said, “I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know, even he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie” (John 1:26-27). This showed John’s great humility.
Then, at the Baptism of Jesus, when Jesus approached him to be baptized John said with all sincerity, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” (Matthew 3:14) And when people began leaving John to follow Jesus this was the amazing response of John:
And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, He who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified, behold, He is baptizing and all are coming to Him.” John answered and said, “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given him from heaven. You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, ‘I am not the Christ,’ but, ‘I have been sent ahead of Him.’ He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. So this joy of mine has been made full. He must increase, but I must decrease. (John 3:26-30)
FEAR OF GOD, NOT OF MEN
Not long after John’s mission was completed as people started following Jesus John was Imprisoned when he spoke out against Herod Antipas, son of Herod the Great, who had taken his brother Herod Philip II’s wife Herodias. On Herod Antipas’ birthday a feast was held in which Herodias’ daughter Salome danced for Herod such that he offered to give her whatever she wanted, up to half of his kingdom (Mark 6:23). She asked her mother what she should request and Herodias vengefully replied, “The head of John the Baptist!” Herod was sorry that he had made this Rash Oath, as John was a just and holy man whom he had enjoyed speaking with (Mark 6:17). Salome’s request was granted and John the Baptist was sadly Beheaded.
This humble man lived a humble life and died a humble death but he brought great glory to the Lord God Almighty! It will be a fantastic privilege to meet him in the New Jerusalem one day. Of course, then more than ever he will be lovingly proclaiming the praises of the only one truly worthy of them: the Son of God, Jesus Christ!
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