Though his name says Baptist and he even baptized with water but John The Baptist was definitely more than a baptizer. Born in a priestly family and chosen even before birth for the role he had to play as a witness to the Light, though short lived, lived to its full as a lamp that burned and gave light. Jesus himself certified about him that he is more than a prophet (Matthew 11:8-10). Named even before his birth as John (Meaning Yahweh is gracious), his ministry was to testify about the one who is full of grace and truth.
He came in the spirit and power of Elijah, but never performed a sign. He was a voice in the wilderness, but the voice raised the dead to bring them back to the Lord and prepared the way for the Lord. Bible scholars say that this voice broke the 400 years of silence after Malachi.
“during the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins”. – Luke 3:2-4
What a contrast! When the priests are still there in the temple, the word of God came to a man who lived in the wilderness and ate wild honey and not the bread of the presence. Dressed in camel’s hair and leather belt and not in priestly attire. Such contrasts are usual in God’s vocation. He overrides the rules, breaks the routine and accomplishes his plan in his own way. Though, a priest’s son, God’s word didn’t come to him as he was burning incense like his father Zechariah.
“All the people, even the tax collectors, when they heard Jesus’ words, acknowledged that God’s way was right, because they had been baptized by John. But the Pharisees and the experts in the law rejected God’s purpose for themselves, because they had not been baptized by John”. – Luke 7:29-30
Sometimes we become so immersed in religious activities like the priests, Pharisees and experts of the law that we don’t hear God’s voice and thereby don’t understand God’s purpose for us and our generation. The same happened for Eli long back in the history of Israel. Is it true that History repeats itself? Or maybe we fail to learn from history?
“A person can receive only what is given them from heaven. You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah but am sent ahead of him’. The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less.”- (John 3:27-30).
John had understood a very important secret in doing God’s work. If only we understand this principle and take it to our heart there will be no unnecessary rivalry in God’s work. Whatever accomplishments big or small, ourselves or others all are from heaven i.e. from God. He understood his role and he was satisfied in that. He did not want to explore. The above verses was his reply when people told them “Everyone is going to Jesus”. That was his purpose and he had done it well.
But when John rebuked Herod the tetrarch because of his marriage to Herodias, his brother’s wife, and all the other evil things he had done, Herod locked John up in prison. (Luke 3:19- 20). But John was not a pleaser of men. He might have thought that Herod would repent. But still rebuking a king is a risky job. Men pleasers rarely please God. Many a times because of our silence, something which we ought to speak but refrain from speaking it, will cause damage to the kingdom’s cause. While realising our own weaknesses and short comings we must even have the courage to speak the truth.