I must admit posting a video of Handel’s Messiah on the cusp of June feels a bit like walking into a store in October with Christmas decorations. Bear with me.
When our President comes to town, roads close, traffic comes to a halt. Here’s an example from a recent trip to Chicago:
The town prepares. I don’t even know what the Secret Service and government does. I’m not going to even try to research that.
When Mark introduces us to the Beautiful, he tells us about His messenger first. And He starts by reminding us about a prophecy in Isaiah.
This passage in Isaiah is a comfort passage. The Messiah is coming, beloved. Your God has not forgotten about you. Your God has not abandoned you. Make the roads ready. In the Old Testament times, when the people knew that their king was coming they would prepare the roads, fill in the holes, make the kingdom ready! They wanted to be ready for their king.
Well, John is the messenger. According to David Guzik,
John the Baptist’s was the one crying in the wilderness, and through his message of repentance, he worked to prepare the way of the LORD. We often fail to appreciate how important the preparing work of the LORD is. Any great work of God begins with great preparation. John wonderfully fulfilled this important ministry. “John was God’s bulldozer to build that highway.” (Steadman)
Who is John the Baptist?
Malachi 3 Behold, I send My messenger, and he shall prepare the way before Me. And the Lord [the Messiah], Whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; the Messenger or Angel of the covenant, Whom you desire, behold, He shall come, says the Lord of hosts.
2 But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap;
3 He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and He will purify the priests, the sons of Levi, and refine them like gold and silver, that they may offer to the Lord offerings in righteousness.
We’ve looked at his parents in my earlier blog. John comes from a priestly heritage on both sides. Zacharias came from the division of Abijah. There were 24 divisions of priesthood according to 1 Chronicles 24. Elizabeth was a daughter of Aaron.
Matthew 3:4 This same John’s garments were made of camel’s hair, and he wore a leather girdle about his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey.
Jesus described John best. :)
7 Then as these men went their way, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: What did you go out in the wilderness (desert) to see? A reed swayed by the wind?
8 What did you go out to see then? A man clothed in soft garments? Behold, those who wear soft clothing are in the houses of kings.
10 This is the one of whom it is written, Behold, I send My messenger ahead of You, who shall make ready Your way before You.
11 Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
12 And from the days of John the Baptist until the present time, the kingdom of heaven has endured violent assault, and violent men seize it by force [as a precious prize—a [d]share in the heavenly kingdom is sought with most ardent zeal and intense exertion].
13 For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied up until John.
14 And if you are willing to receive and accept it, John himself is Elijah who was to come [before the kingdom].
- Temporary…Matthew 3 In those days there appeared John the Baptist, preaching in the Wilderness (Desert) of Judea
2 And saying, Repent ([a]think differently; change your mind, regretting your sins and changing your conduct), for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
3 This is he who was mentioned by the prophet Isaiah when he said, The voice of one crying in the wilderness (shouting in the desert), Prepare the road for the Lord, make His highways straight (level, [b]direct).
28 You yourselves are my witnesses [you personally bear me out] that I stated, I am not the Christ (the Anointed One, the Messiah), but I have [only] been sent before Him [in advance of Him, to be His appointed forerunner, His messenger, His announcer].
29 He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the groomsman who stands by and listens to him rejoices greatly and heartily on account of the bridegroom’s voice. This then is my pleasure and joy, and it is now complete.
30 He must increase, but I must decrease. [He must grow more prominent; I must grow less so.]
- Light shone for a season…John 5:33-35
33 You yourselves have sent [an inquiry] to John and he has been a witness to the truth.
34 But I do not receive [a mere] human witness [the evidence which I accept on My behalf is not from man]; but I simply mention all these things in order that you may be saved (made and kept safe and sound).
35 John was the lamp that kept on burning and shining [to show you the way], and you were willing for a while to delight (sun) yourselves in his light.
5 Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the country round about the Jordan went out to him;
6 And they were baptized in the Jordan by him, confessing their sins.
Jesus heard. Jesus came. And just as quickly as John’s flame burst on to scene? It was swept away…
19 But Herod the tetrarch, who had been [repeatedly] told about his fault and reproved with rebuke [h]producing conviction by [John] for [having] Herodias, his brother’s wife, and for all the wicked things that Herod had done,
20 Added this to them all—that he shut up John in prison.
John then spends eleven chapters of Matthew in prison and we hear nothing of John the baptizer. Then, we hear. John is having doubts. The man who pointed Jesus out to all of his followers in the beginning? He isn’t sure.
When Jesus had finished His charge to His twelve disciples, He left there to teach and to preach in their [Galilean] cities.
2 Now when John in prison heard about the activities of Christ, he sent a message by his disciples
3 And asked Him, Are You the One Who was to come, or should we keep on expecting a different one?
2 And he said to his attendants, This is John the Baptist; He has been raised from the dead, and that is why the powers [a]of performing miracles are at work in Him.
3 For Herod had arrested John and bound him and put him in prison [to [b]stow him out of the way] on account and for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife,
4 For John had said to him, It is not lawful or right for you to have her.
5 Although he wished to have him put to death, he was afraid of the people, for they regarded John as a prophet.
6 But when Herod’s birthday came, the daughter of Herodias danced in the midst [before the company] and pleased and fascinated Herod,
7 And so he promised with an oath to give her whatever she might ask.
8 And she, being put forward and prompted by her mother, said, Give me the head of John the Baptist right here on a [c]platter.
9 And the king was distressed and sorry, but because of his oaths and his guests, he ordered it to be given her;
10 He sent and had John beheaded in the prison.
Whoosh. That was a ton of reading. Hope you learned a little about John. All in one place.