Christians believe John the Baptizer had a specific role, ordained by God, as forerunner/precursor of Jesus, who was the foretold Messiah. The New Testament Gospels speak of this role.
Old Testament Prophecy
There are a few passages in the Old Testament which are interpreted as being prophetic of John the Baptizer: Mal. 3:1; 4:5,6. The Jews of Jesus’ day expected Elijah to come before the Messiah did; Matt. 17:10-14; Mark 1:1-3.
Birth of John the Baptizer
See Luke 1:5-25,57-66,76-80.
John’s Intro to the World
John the Baptizer was an itinerant preacher, mentioned in the Gospels (and the Qur’an). He is described in Luke’s Gospel as a relative of Jesus (3rd or 4th cousin) who led a movement of baptism in the Jordan River. Some scholars maintain he was influenced by the Essenes, a bare-bone, no-frills group of Jews who lived in desert caves.
John is regarded as a prophet in Christianity… and Islam.
– John the Baptizer Ministers to the Multitudes… Matt. 3:1-12; Mark 1:4-8; John 1:6-9,15-28
John anticipated a messianic figure greater than himself; Jesus was the one whose coming John foretold.
– John the Baptizer Ministers to the Messiah… Matt. 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; John 1:29-34
Some of Jesus’ early followers had previously been followers of John.
All 4 Gospels tell of John’s preaching and baptizing in the Jordan River.
– John’s Ongoing Ministry… John 1:35-37; 3:22-36
– John Imprisoned… Matt. 11:2-19
In the Gospel accounts of John’s death, Herod had John imprisoned because John denounced Herod’s incestuous marriage. Herod later had John beheaded for sport. See Matt. 14:1-12; Mark 6:14-29; Luke 9:7-9.
When you hear of “John the Baptist”, you might think of his “in-your-face” preaching style… or his odd clothing (he wore camel skins)… or his odd diet (he ate locusts & honey). You might picture him baptizing others… or baptizing Jesus. You might remember his gruesome death. You might even think he was the first “Baptist” (he was not).
But, if you were to ask John what he would like to be remembered for, I think he would say, “I was a man who pointed others to Jesus”.
While in that desert, John had the perfect opportunity to make a name for himself… to become a celebrity. People came from miles around to watch him do his thing. Instead, he shined the spotlight on Jesus.
When John’s students were concerned that the crowds were thinning out because some people were starting to follow Jesus instead, John could have sulked… or come up with a better marketing plan. Instead, he said, “Jesus must become more; I must become less”. He understood his place in God’s plan.
We should resist the temptation to promote ourselves… or our church… or our denomination… over Jesus. It’s not about us; it’s all about Him.
* Your words and deeds should point others to Jesus.
You can read the story of John the Baptizer in Malachi 3:1; 4:5,6; Matthew 3:1-17; 11:2-19; 14:1-12; 17:10-14; Mark 1:1-11; 6:14-29; Luke 1; 9:7-9; John 1.