John the Baptizer, a baptism for the repentance of sin

Matthew 3, Mark 1, Luke 3

We mentioned on Wednesday (John 1 and Luke 1) why and how John the Baptizer played such a key role in announcing the coming of Jesus the Messiah. John the Baptizer was such an influential figure in 1st century Israel that many people thought he may be the Messiah. But the Baptizer and the authors of the New Testament made it clear: this prophet of God was not the Messiah, but came to bear witness that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah and the Lamb and Son of God.

Mark 1:2 and Luke 1:17 tie the coming of John the Baptizer to a declaration of the last prophet of the Old Testament, Malachi (Mal. 4:46; cf. Matt.17:12, Mark 9:12). But all four of the Gospels quote a passage from Isaiah 40 in connection to the ministry of John the Baptizer (John 1:23 is the Baptizer’s own testimony).

“The voice of one crying in the wilderness;

Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight”

Did the Prophets Isaiah or John the Baptizer think and proclaim that the LORD, Yahweh was literally to come to earth as a human being? This is the way much of traditional Christianity interprets this verse. However, it is clear that both prophets understood that the LORD Yahweh would come, and His glory be revealed, through the circumstances of events that were about to unfold. In Isaiah’s case the restoration of Israel from Babylon would be a second Exodus in which Yahweh the LORD is understood to come and lead Israel, displaying His glory.

For the prophet John the Baptizer, Yahweh, the LORD, would break into human history and reveal his glory by sending the Messiah, the one who “comes in the name of the LORD Yahweh” (Psa. 118:26, John 12:13). The Messiah is Yahweh the LORD’s messenger, Yahweh’s agent. To receive Yahweh’s messenger was to receive Yahweh.

And how were the people to prepare for the one who was to come after John the Baptizer, to whom John testified “I’m not worthy to carry his sandal”?

Repentance. Both John the Baptizer and Jesus preached a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sin. “The time is fulfilled, and the king of God is at hand; repent, and believe the good news of the kingdom” (Mark 1:4, 14-15, Matt. 4:17, 23).

-Bill Schlegel

Bill Schlegel is the author of the Satellite Bible Atlas and general editor of the One God Report podcast.

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – Matthew 3, Mark 1, Luke 3

Tomorrow we will read John 2-4 on our way through our Bible reading plan.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s