“In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. And the same John had his raiment of camel’s hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey.”
The events take place about thirty years after the birth of John. He has spent most of His life in seclusion in the wilderness, and Jesus spent much of His life in seclusion at Nazareth.
The common people believed John’s message and wanted to be ready for the Messiah. John’s ministry was preparatory. Those who wanted to be part of the Kingdom of Heaven, repented, were baptized and confessed their sins. John knew that the Pharisees and Sadducees were a bunch of vipers. They rejected John’s message because they did not believe it, nor did they see themselves as sinners. The fact that they were descendants of Abraham meant absolutely nothing.
It is interesting that John ask who had warned them of the wrath to come. John has the Tribulation in mind. The Scriptures were clear that the Day of The Lord must precede the Kingdom. The axe laid at the root of the trees, the baptism with fire, and the purged floor, all pointed to that day.
John baptized those who repented, Jesus would later baptize the repentant nation with the Holy Spirit. “For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring:” Isaiah 44:3. A foretaste of this took place on Pentecost when the Spirit was poured on the Apostles. Since the nation refused to repent, the fulfillment of that promise has been postponed until the remnant repents in the Tribulation. John was attempting to turn the nation to the coming Messiah so Isaiah could be fulfilled.
John was the last of the Old Testament prophets to announce the coming of Christ. The fact that the Law and the Prophets were “till John” does not mean the Law of Moses ended at the coming of John, or that there were no prophets after his coming. The meaning is, the former days foretold Christ’s coming, John was now in the days of His coming.
John lived as a poor man. His home was in the wilderness. He came in the manner of Elijah, and would have fulfilled in type his ministry, had the nation receive his ministry. John did no miracles, and was not in the Kingdom of Heaven. He did not start a church, Baptist, or otherwise. His message and ministry concerned the Kingdom of Heaven only. The statement by Jesus that John was greater than all prophets, spoke not of his character, but his ministry. They all told of His coming, John introduced Him to Israel.
John was not a Baptist, he was the baptizer. The church at Corinth had its factions. “Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 1:12. It is significant that none claimed to be of John. It is unfortunate that there is a church denomination named “The Church of Christ,” and one called “The Church of God” simply because believers were designated as such. Thus, many have made the same error with the name Baptist. The early church had no denominational name, even though believers were call by many names. John’s message, nor his baptism had nothing to do with the death, burial, or resurrection of Christ. That event never entered the mind of John or the Twelve. John’s gospel was the gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven, and was not what we preach, or what Paul preached.
Jesus was also about thirty years of age when He came to be baptized. There is more significance in His age than most think. Also, for those who affirm that the follow Christ to the letter, why do they not wait untill they are thirty?
Jesus was baptized, not that He needed repentance, but to identify Himself, and make Himself known as Messiah and the Son of God. Jesus kept the Law, and did what was expected of those who followed the truth. John’s baptism introduced, and made known Israel’s Messiah and King. Jesus was declared to be that, and more, at His baptism.
Pastor Ken Blue was born in Boswell, Ark. In 1955 he accepted Christ as his Savior. He and his wife Joyce were married in 1955. They have 5 children. He graduated from Midwestern Baptist Bible College in 1969 and started the Open Door Baptist Church in Lynnwood, Wa. where he pastored for 39 years. Because of health issues (ALS) he was forced to resign as pastor. It is his desire to continue to be used of God to help pastors and believers through this ministry.