THE GOSPEL OF JOHN– Part 12
John 1:24-28, says,” And the messengers had been sent from the Pharisees. They asked him, and said to him, “Why then are you baptizing, if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” John answered them, saying, “I baptize in water, but among you stands One whom you do not know. It is He who comes after me, of whom I am not worthy even to untie the strap of His sandal.” These things took place in Bethany beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing people.”
Apart from Jesus Christ, John the Baptist is probably the most theologically significant figure in the Gospels. As was the case with Jesus, his birth was meticulously recorded ( Luke 1:5-25 ). His entrance into the world was marked by angelic proclamation and divine intervention ( Luke 1:57-80 ). John’s birth not only parallels that of Jesus, but echoes the momentous occasion of the birth of Isaac to Abraham and Sarah ( Genesis 17:15-22 ; 21:1-7 ). John is clearly a pivotal figure in the salvation history of God.
Although his formative years were lived in obscurity in the desert ( Luke 1:80 ), his public ministry ended nearly four hundred years of prophetic silence. John was that voice crying in the wilderness, preparing the way for the coming Messiah.
John was an end-times prophet. He conducted his ministry with an eschatological authority that demanded immediate action. He taught that judgment is at hand. The axe is laid to the roots and God will thoroughly purge his threshing floor ( Matthew 3:10-12 ; Luke 3:9 Luke 3:17 ). And the authenticity of repentance was evidenced in very practical terms: share with those in need, eliminate graft, and prohibit extortion ( Luke 3:11-14 ).
John was no “crowd pleaser.” He willingly confronted the hypocrisy of the religious establishment ( Matthew 3:7 ; Luke 3:7 ). He did not hesitate to expose the immorality of Herod and chose to die a martyr’s death rather than compromise his convictions ( Matthew 14:3-12 ; Mark 6:17-29 ).
All of these characteristics portray John as a fiery prophet proclaiming the apocalyptic message of God. Indeed, Luke says that John came “in the spirit and power of Elijah” ( Luke1:17 ). He goes on to allude to Malachi 4:5, which states that Elijah will return “before that great and dreadful day of the Lord.” In fact, some contemporaries of John inquired if he were Elijah ( John 1:21 ).
And finally, the psychological and sociological analysis of John is of interest here. In accordance with the criteria of the sociology of deviance, John’s behavior and message could be classified as “deviant.” In this light, Matthew’s use of Isaiah 40:2-3 in 3:7-10 may seek to justify John and endorse the legitimacy of his ministry.
John continues in these verses to demonstrate his calling of God and his role. One main reason this is recorded in the Bible is that this is our example.:
- “And the messengers had been sent from the Pharisees asked John, and said to him, “Why then are you baptizing, if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” John answered them, saying, “I baptize in water…”
Our Takeaway: The contemporary, postmodern Christian has been taught that baptism is an ‘ordinance’ or a ‘sacrament’ administered only by ‘ordained, professional clergy’. This is not Biblical and it is not correct. I suspect the organizational church has done it this way to keep records and to keep order, which are worthy goals, but they are not Biblical.
The Bible speaks of all Christian, believers and followers of Jesus, that we are a Royal Priesthood, as it says in 1 Peter 2:4-10, “And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by people, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For this is contained in Scripture:
“BEHOLD, I AM LAYING IN ZION A CHOICE STONE, A PRECIOUS CORNERSTONE,
AND THE ONE WHO BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE PUT TO SHAME.” This precious value, then, is for you who believe; but for unbelievers,
“A STONE WHICH THE BUILDERS REJECTED,
THIS BECAME THE CHIEF CORNERSTONE,” and,
“A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE”;
for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this they were also appointed.
But you are A CHOSEN PEOPLE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR GOD’S OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY.”
Additionally, in Matthew 28, scriptures tell us that we as believers, disciples of Jesus, are to, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to follow all that Jesus commanded .”
YOU go, YOU tell, YOU make disciples and YOU BAPTIZE THEM!
2. Next, John tells those who come to him, “Among you stands One whom you do not know. It is He who comes after me, of whom I am not worthy even to untie the strap of His sandal.”
Our Takeaway: John is talking to the unbeliever, stating the obvious, “they do not know Him”. At the same time, John is acknowledging his role as telling about Jesus and his stature in comparison to the Christ. This is our role and example.
- Finally, we are told that “These things took place in Bethany beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing people.”
Our Takeaway: The narrative tells us where this occurred “in Bethany beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing people”. The significance of the phrase, “in Bethany beyond the Jordan”, is interesting, and I am going to go ‘out of traditional bounds’ here and explain the symbolism of the words used in this verse and these words:
Bethany translates, literally as, “house of affliction”, “house of depression or misery” or “house of dates”.
Beyond (the Jordan) can mean to “to pierce through” or “to cross over”.
The Jordan translates as “the descender” which comes from two ancient roots words meaning “a physical distance of place” or “a temporal distance of time” and “hateful, hated, detestable”.
The correct context of the word Jordan, is the name of a river; But, God always gave the things, places and people which He made a name of their intended purpose, function or usefulness. Taken together in the symbolism of the intended purpose, function or usefulness of the Jordan, we might read:
“These things took place in Bethany, which symbolizes a world of affliction, depression and misery. But it had been ‘dated’ or foretold, that at this specific time, God has gone beyond the physical, and pierced through, time and space, reaching beyond the sinful, hateful and detestable, where John was baptizing people; a physical symbolism of being changed; a metamorphosis occurs, and they will never be the same again. People are made new with a future and a Hope.”
This is our testimony and our confession, and this is our pattern. Let’s go, tell this Good News, just as John and Jesus have taught!
Your Brother and Friend,
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