Many people mistake who John the Baptizer really was. According to the bible there exists other people with the name John and it is therefore important to distinguish John the baptizer from the rest. First is John who was the disciple of Jesus and the son of Zebedee (John 21:2). Simon’s peters father is also called John (John 1:42; 21:15-17). Then is John mark the young man from Jerusalem who worked closely with Barnabas and Paul (Acts 12:12, 25; 13:5, 13; 15:37). There is also John the priest (Acts 4:6) and also John who authored the book of revelation (Rev 1:1, 4, 9; 22:8). The last is the evangelist who authored the last gospel book entitled John whom many scholars don’t agree who this John was. The birth and the mission of John the baptizer and that of Jesus Christ were very significant in the history of salvation of mankind. The birth of John the Baptist marked the end of an era that was characterized by grievous sins that were committed by human beings and the beginning of another era that would redeem human beings and bring salvation that would enable them to get rid of their sins and stand a chance to live forever with God in heaven even after their physical death.
Similarly, the birth of Jesus indicated these two eras but above all it was him who would bring salvation to the world. His birth and the birth of Christianity is one and the same thing that would only be revealed to the world through the help of the Holy Spirit. It was the help of the Holy Spirit that John would bring an insight and an understanding that Christ who was mightier than himself would be born of men and would deliver the world from darkness of sin. This paper therefore examines the relation between John the Baptizer and Jesus. http://catholic-resources.org/Bible/John-Baptist.htm ; http://jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=371&letter=J ;
John was the son of Zachariah and his mother was Elizabeth. He was Mary’s (mother of Jesus) nephew meaning that he was Jesus’ cousin. His mother and the mother of Jesus were also cousins. He was born while Mary the mother of Jesus was three months pregnant. Zachariah had stayed for many years without a child and they were old when the angel Gabriel appeared to Zachariah and told him about the good news that he would have a son. As a result of their old age, Zachariah never imagined that people of their age would ever get a child and he questioned and doubted what the angel of the lord had said to him. This was not pleasing before God and therefore Zachariah was struck with dumbness until when the child was born. On the other hand, Jesus was born of Virgin Mary who was betrothed to Joseph. It was not expected that a child can be born without any intimate relationship that would see the biological process take place. This was a miracle for a virgin to be pregnant is not possible without an act of supernatural force and for that matter Gods power. It was also very unusual when the child was born when both the mother and the father separately gave same name to the child without any consultation among themselves. To know a child’s sex during that time and the name before it is born is also an act of miracle. The birth of both Jesus and John the Baptist were foretold by prophets and announced by the same angel of God named Gabriel. This symbolized Gods power that was within the parents of John and how blessed John would be. Indeed Elizabeth and Zachariah named John the Baptist ‘Yochan’ (http://latter-rain.com/gospel/johnbap.htm ) that means ‘God’s gift’. The name Emmanuel was also given to Jesus by the angel and it meant ‘God with us’ Yochan was therefore implied that God would give a precious gift to mankind that would bring them closer to him even more after the sin of Adam and Eve that had created a gap between God and man. On the other hand, Emmanuel was a testimonial name that was intended to confirm that the long awaited savior who was God himself and man in flesh had already been born and was already among human beings (God with us- where ‘us’ referred to human beings and God referred to Jesus Christ). All the circumstances that surrounded the birth of John the Baptizer and Jesus Christ were uncommon. This is a clear sign that nothing is impossible as long as people believe in the power of God. It is also a clear indication that all the words from God are ever kept and must be fulfilled for God himself is not a liar. The birth of john the Baptist and Jesus Christ were announced long before they were born by the prophets. Their actual birth was therefore fulfillment of these prophesies. It is important to note that the birth of John the baptizer six months before that of Jesus was significant ant purposeful. This is because those people who were amazed by the birth of John the Baptist would trigger their minds about the Christ who would come under similar circumstances and increase their faith as a way of preparing them to accept and believe him as the anointed one of God. According to the angel concerning John the baptizer, the child to be born would never drink any wine or even strong drink. This also happened to Jesus who never drunk wine or any strong drink. He was however accused falsely of preaching while drunk due to his power and bold criticisms. John the baptizer would receive the Holy Spirit even before he was born. This also happened to Jesus Christ but above all, Jesus was born by the power of the Holy Spirit by whom Mary, his mother, conceived. His power would only be compared to that of Elias and his main aim would be to prepare the people’s hearts to receive the lord. The power of Jesus Christ was also compared to that of Elias and John the Baptist but he did even more than what they did. Jesus performed so many miracles and spoke with authority in order to clear any doubts that he may not be the messiah whom the people anxiously waited for. John the baptizer testified that Jesus was indeed the Christ and he was greater than any prophet in the history of the world. He was indeed the son of God and God himself as it was confirmed during his baptism in the river Jordan (Mark 1:9, Matt 3:13-16, Luke 3:21). The fact that John the Baptist baptized Jesus did not mean that Jesus was a sinner. John the Baptist was aware of this and as a result he thought Jesus was supposed to baptize him instead. This did not happen because the fact that human beings are sinners and must repent and be baptized would not sink deep into the people’s hearts if Jesus did not show by an example. It also signified the love of God for his people by sacrificing his son for the sake of human kind whose sins would lead to the painful and agonizing death of Jesus. John preached about straightening the paths of sinners in preparation for the coming of Christ. In his salvation mission, Jesus also preached to the people and told them to repent but he reminded them that the kingdom of God is at hand. Of course this implied that salvation comes to those people who admit their sins and work towards increasing their bond with God through repentance (Matt 3:1, Mark 1:4; 6:14, John 1:25-33). In his preaching John talked about
“The voice of him that crys in the wilderness, prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it.” (http://latter-rain.com/gospel/Johnbap.htm )
The voice here specifically refers to John the baptizer. Those who repented their sins were also baptized as a way of purification which was not in accordance with the Jewish practices. According to the Jews, one would be purified after taking part in religious washings but John brought in a new dimension in the practice. This was perhaps to signify that true repentance is always accompanied by cleansing of sins resulting to renewal of the spiritual wellbeing of God’s people. This does not therefore require a mare washing of our bodies with water as a way of purification. Repentance was therefore highly encouraged during the preaching of John the Baptizer and that of Jesus Christ. The characteristics of John revealed by the angel of the lord was a confirmation of the fulfillment of the prophetic words uttered by prophet Malachi. Jesus and John the Baptizer had so many things in common. No wonder they even recognized each other when they were in their mothers wombs as it is confirmed when Mary the mother of Jesus visited Elizabeth -the mother of John the Baptizer- when John leaped with joy while he was in his mother’s womb (St. Luke 3, Matt 3:1, Mark 1:4; 6:14, John 1:25-33; http://jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=371&letter=J ; Dapaah D.S, 2005, pp. 13-65).
John the Baptizer rebuked scribes and the Pharisees and accused them of hypocrisy. “O generation of vipers, who has warned you to flee from the wrath to come.” (Luke 3). He preached fearlessly and warned sinners about a time that would come that would not be good. Jesus also reaffirmed the statement that a difficulty time would come. He however gave hope to those who would keep the lords commandments that a good time also awaits them. He was very concerned about those people whom he likened with Shepard less sheep. He referred to himself as the good Shepard and assured human beings of their importance to him when he said that he came to the world that the sinners may be converted and saved since these sinners according to him were spiritually sick and needed a doctor who was himself. John’s bold critics did not auger well with the leadership of that day and he was imprisoned for criticizing Herodias marriage with Herod. Jesus teachings were also irritating especially to scribes and Pharisees who treaded all sorts of accusations against him and sought to kill him. John did not live for a long time after the birth of Jesus. He was beheaded for speaking the truth but to the ‘wrong’ person who was not even ready to heed to his words. He died a painful death and was humiliated before men when Herodius asked for his head in a plate. In the same way and even worse that John the baptizer, Jesus suffered the same fate. Jesus was falsely accused of blasphemy-a crime that would not only guarantee his death but the most painful and humiliating death ever. This is also significant in the sense that those people who might have doubted Jesus as God would get another chance to witness his resurrection from the dead and even draw a difference between him and all other ancient prophets including John the Baptist. John was very clear on the fact that no sinner would ever escape the wrath of God if he/she repented not. John the Baptist therefore lashed his followers every time they talked about severity of God and his inescapable judgment. He cautioned his followers against the self-righteous who are deviants since they not only disdain their entry into Gods kingdom but also impede others from the same. In the same manner Jesus warned those who deceived one of those little ones that judgment was upon them. Both Jesus and John had great spiritual power in their preaching that many people were almost convinced that they were Elias or an ancient prophet who had come back to earth. This was however expected especially after Gabriel the lord angels stated that John the Baptist would act “with the spirit and power of Elijah” (Luke 1:17) and also that blessed was the fruit of Jesus mother, Mary. Through John the Baptizer Gods plan for redemption had commenced. He was ‘part of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He soon became famous and drew great crowds of people who expected miracles from him. Jesus drew even greater crowds and performed more miracles than the people expected from John the baptizer. John the baptizer reaffirmed that the Christ who would come would be the bridegroom. He would be greater that he for he would baptize with the Holy Spirit unlike himself who baptized with water. This meant that a kind of transition would take place and John the Baptizer was just there to pave way for the mighty one of God who would cleanse the sins of the earth. John the Baptizer was a good man and the only word that could suit him was the Greek word ‘agathos’ that implied upright, correct and proper. Jesus was best described by ‘kalos’ that means agathos plus appealing, attractive, comely, winsome, inviting, endearing and compelling. (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, GOOD, http://www.bible-history.com/isbe/G/GOOD/
It is important to note that Jesus and john the Baptist had so many commonalities, differences and links that were all significant in the salvation of human beings. The similarities can be outlined by the following facts. According to the information given in the above discursion, it is true to say that john the Baptist and Jesus Christ were close relatives and friends. This means that they had so many biological characteristics in common. They both resided in arid areas where they endured physical suffering that even exposed them to temptations. They also preached to the Jews and the gentiles and reminded them about the importance of repentance. They united their disciples in different ways. They both informed people that God was for us all and not only for Israel. (http://www.denverseminary.edu/article/the-immerser-john-the-baptist-within-second-temple-judaism/ ) They were both born under mysterious circumstances. They both died innocently for preaching about the truth. However their differences included that Jesus was the light that john the Baptist came to bear witness. While john the Baptist referred Jesus as ‘the coming one’, Jesus said that he was ‘the incarnate one’. While john constantly reminded people about ancient prophetic promises that were given by god, Jesus came to fulfill them. Though john baptized with water, Jesus baptized with spirit in form of fire. It should therefore be remembered that Jesus was greater than john the Baptist. John the Baptist was to be born before Jesus in order to prepare for the coming of Christ. John the Baptist bore witness that Jesus was indeed the Christ. John the Baptist ushered a new era in the salvation of human kind and links the Old Testament with the New Testament. This therefore brings out the relation of Jesus and John the Baptist as noted by a script from The latter rain that;
“If we’ve grasped the difference between agathos and kalos, between what is good, correct, upright and what is so very inviting and attractive as to be beautiful, then we’ve grasped the relation of John to Jesus.” http://latter-rain.com/gospel/Johnbap.htm
Felix Just, S.J, John the Baptist, the Witness, the Prophet http://catholic-resources.org/Bible/John-Baptist.htm
THE LATTER RAIN, John the Baptist and Jesus Retrieved from http://latter-rain.com/gospel/Johnbap.htm
Kaufmann Kohler, JOHN THE BAPTIST: Retrieved from http://jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=371&letter=J Jewish encyclopedia.com
Retrieved from http://www.bible-history.com/isbe/J/JOHN+THE+BAPTIST/ International Standard Bible Encyclopedia JOHN THE BAPTIST
Daniel S. Dapaah, (2005), The Relationship between John the Baptist and Jesus of Nazareth, University Press of America, US
Taylor, Joan E. (1997), the Immerser: John the Baptist within Second Temple Judaism. Retrieved from http://www.denverseminary.edu/article/the-immerser-john-the-baptist-within-second-temple-judaism/ on 20th may, 2009