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Ministry of John the Baptist

John the Baptist is called to be a prophet

Luke 3:1-2 John 1:6

1 NOW in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Ituraea and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene,

2 Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness.

6 There was a man sent from God, whose name [was] John.

John preaches in the wilderness of Judea

Matthew 3:1-2 Mark 1:4 Luke 3:3 John 1:7

1 IN those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea,

2 And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

4 John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.

3 And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins;

7 The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all [men] through him might believe.

John was a Voice crying in the Wilderness

Matthew 3:3 Mark 1:2-3 Luke 3:4-6 Isaiah 40:3-5

3 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.

2 As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.

3 The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.

4 As it is written in the book of the words of Esaias the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.

5 Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways [shall be] made smooth;

6 And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.

3 The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

4 Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain:

5 And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see [it] together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken [it].

John's appearance

Matthew 3:4 Mark 1:6

4 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.

6 And John was clothed with camel's hair, and with a girdle of a skin about his loins; and he did eat locusts and wild honey;

The people of Jerusalem come to John

Matthew 3:5-6 Mark 1:5

5 Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan,

6 And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.

5 And there went out unto him all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins.

The Jews had a custom of immersing oneself to cleanse themselves of sin. There were strict rules concerning this ritual, including the fact that it had to be done in running water. This custom was so important that a special baptismal font (called a mikva) was built in cities and large urban areas in which to perform these rites. Running water would be piped into these fonts so that the ritual could be performed satisfactorily. Of course, since John was baptizing in a river, there was no need for any special construction.

John's mission

John 1:8-18 Exodus 33:11

8 He was not that Light, but [was sent] to bear witness of that Light.

15 John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me.

16 And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.

17 For the law was given by Moses, [but] grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

18 No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared [him].

11 And the LORD spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend. And he turned again into the camp: but his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, departed not out of the tabernacle.

John 1:18 is an interesting verse. In Exodus 33:11 we read that Abraham spoke to God face to face, as one speaks to their friend. Therefore, this verse doesn't mean that no one had ever seen God. It has a different meaning than the obvious one, or an error has crept into the verse. Perhaps the term "man" means natural man, or carnal man.

When Moses came down from Mount Sinai after receiving the ten commandments, his face was glowing. Moses had to place a veil in front of his face so that the people could approach him. (See Exodus 34:29-35.) It appears that some sort of transformation took place to change Moses from a natural man so that he could stand before God.

John chastises the Pharisees and Sadducees

Matthew 3:7-10 Luke 3:7-9

7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?

8 Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:

9 And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to [our] father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.

10 And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

7 Then said he to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?

8 Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to [our] father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.

9 And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

Notice that Matthew identifies the people that John is referring to as a generation of vipers was the Pharisees and Sadducees, while Luke implies he was addressing the multitude in general. Luke goes on to describe ways in which the multitude could improve their actions. Perhaps Matthew softened John's message and/or directed it more towards the Jewish rulers. Certainly, John's message of repentance was directed at people in general, not just the Pharisees and Sadducees; otherwise he would not have raised such a large crowd.

The people ask John what they should do

Luke 3:10-14

10 And the people asked him, saying, What shall we do then?

11 He answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise.

12 Then came also publicans to be baptized, and said unto him, Master, what shall we do?

13 And he said unto them, Exact no more than that which is appointed you.

14 And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse [any] falsely; and be content with your wages.

Luke expands Matthew's text by providing guidance on how various professions could lead better lives. John's comments gives us insight into common problems with the various groups.

The publicans were the group that collected Roman taxes. They were dispised by most Jews for several reasons. First, they were a reminder that the Jewish nation was under Roman rule. A publican could charge more for taxes than were actually due, and then pocket the difference for their own purposes.

Bribery was a common problem with Roman soldiers, who could accuse someone of a crime and then accept a bribe to release them. This was done to increase their income.

John states that he is not the Messiah

Matthew 3:11-12 Mark 1:7-8 Luke 3:15-18 John 1:19-28

11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and [with] fire:

12 Whose fan [is] in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.

7 And preached, saying, There cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose.

8 I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.

15 And as the people were in expectation, and all men mused in their hearts of John, whether he were the Christ, or not;

16 John answered, saying unto [them] all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire:

17 Whose fan [is] in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable.

18 And many other things in his exhortation preached he unto the people.

19 And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou?

20 And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ.

21 And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No.

22 Then said they unto him, Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself?

23 He said, I [am] the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias.

24 And they which were sent were of the Pharisees.

25 And they asked him, and said unto him, Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet?

26 John answered them, saying, I baptize with water: but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not;

27 He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe's latchet I am not worthy to unloose.

28 These things were done in Bethabara beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing.

Baptism of Jesus

Matthew 3:13-17 Mark 1:9-11 Luke 3:21-22

13 Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him.

14 But John forbade him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?

15 And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer [it to be so] now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.

16 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:

17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

9 And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan.

10 And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him:

11 And there came a voice from heaven, [saying], Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

21 Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened,

22 And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.

Jesus fasts in the wilderness and is tempted

Matthew 4:1-2 Mark 1:12 Luke 4:1-2

1 THEN was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.

2 And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred.

12 And immediately the Spirit driveth him into the wilderness.

1 AND Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness,

2 Being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungered.

Notice that Jesus was tempted for forty days. Often we think of Jesus fasting for forty days, and then being tempted. But both Matthew and Luke state that he was tempted for forty days. The upcoming appearance of the devil is where the devil ends his temptations (for a while), not where he begins them.

Jesus is tempted by the Devil

Matthew 4:3-4 Luke 4:3-4 Deuteronomy 8:3

3 And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.

4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

3 And the devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread.

4 And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.

3 And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every [word] that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.

Matthew 4:5-6 Luke 4:9-11 Psalms 91:9-12

5 Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple,

6 And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in [their] hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.

9 And he brought him to Jerusalem, and set him on a pinnacle of the temple, and said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence:

10 For it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee:

11 And in [their] hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.

9 Because thou hast made the LORD, [which is] my refuge, [even] the most High, thy habitation;

10 There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.

11 For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.

12 They shall bear thee up in [their] hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.

Matthew 4:7 Luke 4:12 Deuteronomy 6:16

7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.

12 And Jesus answering said unto him, It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.

16 Ye shall not tempt the LORD your God, as ye tempted [him] in Massah.

Matthew 4:8-10 Luke 4:5-8 Deuteronomy 6:5

8 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;

9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.

10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

5 And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.

6 And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it.

7 If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine.

8 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

5 And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.

The order of the temptations are different in Matthew and Luke. The last two temptations are reversed. It seems that the order in Matthew makes more sense, since Jesus dismisses the devil after he offers the kingdom of the world if Jesus would worship him.

Matthew 4:11 Mark 1:13 Luke 4:13

11 Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.

13 And he was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan; and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered unto him.

13 And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season.

Luke 4:13 mentions that the devil departed Jesus for a season, implying that Jesus was tempted at other times. Also notice that Jesus was tempted during the forty days of fasting, as noted from the previous section.

John's witness of Jesus as the Messiah

John 1:29-34

29 The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.

30 This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me.

31 And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water.

32 And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him.

33 And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.

34 And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.

John testifies of Jesus to his disciples

John 1:35-42

35 Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples;

36 And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God!

37 And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus.

38 Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye? They said unto him, Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where dwellest thou?

39 He saith unto them, Come and see. They came and saw where he dwelt, and abode with him that day: for it was about the tenth hour.

40 One of the two which heard John [speak], and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother.

41 He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ.

42 And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone.

This appears to be the first time that Simon Peter met Jesus. It is possible that Andrew had known Jesus before, since he was a disciple of John. The scriptures don't explicitly state whether Jesus and John had known each other before the baptism. However, the two were cousins only six months apart in age, so it is quite possible that they met when they were young. Certainly John was aware that the Messiah was on the earth at the time of his ministry, since he states that he was among them, but they knew him not.

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