The story of John the Baptist is quite impressive. He was a very bold chosen man of God.
Birth of John the Baptist
There was a priest named Zacharias, who was very old. He and his wife waited long for a child, but still, they had no children of their own. But during their old age, God miraculously granted them a baby boy. No one was able to believe that they had a son in this early age. Their relatives and neighbours were thinking of the child and how parents would take care of him at this age.
But the parents had faith in God, and they were very happy for the Child that God had answered for their prayer. They had waited for the moment quite long, and God heard their prayer and answered. Now they had a baby boy. They must be wondered what would be the future of the child.
But Zachariah and his wife Elizabeth already knew the future of their child. Like one day, when he was at the temple, an Angel of the Lord appeared to him. He said, “your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John.”
The Angel continued saying that, “He will be a great servant of the Lord and will be a great joy and delight to their parents. Before his born, he will be filled with the Holy Spirit. Many people will turn from their evil ways, repent and come to Lord because of him. The child will be a blessing for you, your family and also others.”
Indeed the child brought great joy to the family, friends and their neighbour. They all rejoiced with the parents of John and praised God for His excellent work.
During his childhood, John listens to his father’s words very carefully. Zachariah prophesied that John would be a prophet of God. He will prepare the way for the LORD, who is coming. John also wanted to serve the almighty but not sure how is going to do it. He didn’t know how to start and where to start but had faith in God.
The Ministry of John the Baptist
John grew and became a young man. He was firm in Spirit. At this stage of his life, left his home and went to the desert. He lived there started living a tough life. He lived in a cage. Lotus and wild honey was his food and wore camel skin, a leather belt around his waist.
God chose John to do exceptional work. He sent him to prepare the way for Him. Also, the main task God sent him to do was, go to people, preach about the kingdom of God to them. To tell the people that “Repent and back to God for the kingdom of God is near.”
John knows what he had to do and the way of doing the job in a very efficient manner. People rushed to him while he was in the wilderness to listen to him.
John was sent to do some exceptional work. People came to his from all over the only to listen to his words. He preached about the repentance and said to people to turn from their evil ways and come to Lord for forgiveness. Many people, after listening to his saying frightened as they know their evil ways what they had done.
When they heard what John was preaching, they were very anxious. In the inner heart, they felt that very bad for their doings. Their conscious started to bother them, so they came to John for the forgiveness of their sin. John took them to the Jordan River and baptizing them. He explained them after baptizing them by submerging in water that as water purifies the body, God wanted to clean the heart of the people and wash away their sins. People began to understand what John wanted to say to them, and they desired to have a clean heart.
John repeatedly told them about the forgiveness of God and kept reminding again and again. He always said to them, “I am baptizing you with water, but after me will come the one who is above me and stronger than I. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His baptism will give you real salvation and eternal life.”
Many came and repented while others also came to John only for baptize, but he did not baptize them as he knew that they did not wholeheartedly regret their sins. He said to them directly on their face, “O you children of snakes, why did you come? You look as if you like God, but in reality, you do not want to know Him. Change your ways and bear the fruits of repentance. Do not think that you have Abraham as a father. He cannot save you. Every tree that does not bring forth good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”
Then they asked him, “What shall we do?”
John answered them: “He who has two garments should give one to him who has none. The one who has food should do the same.”
The tax collector, who used to collect money from the people, also came to John for the repentance. They knew that their doing was wrong. Many people stayed away from them for their profession. Those tax collector even repented from their sins and came to John. After the confession and baptized in the water, they asked John what to do next. John replied to them that they should not ask people for more money except what is right according to law.
Few soldiers also came to John and asked the same question, and he replied to them that they should not take money from the people that they have not earned. Treat fairly with everyone and to be content with their pay.
People thought that he might be the messiah whom they were waiting.
They asked him: “Who are you? Are you the Christ of whom the prophets have spoken?” “I am not the Christ,” he answered. “Who are you then?” they asked; “Are you, Elijah?” “No,” said John. Then they asked, “Are you a prophet?” John replied, “I am a voice in the desert, preparing the way of the Lord.”
Then the priests asked him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ, Elijah, or a prophet?” John answered: “I am baptizing with water. But among you, there is One whom you do not know. It is He who, coming after me, is preferred before me. I am not worthy to untie His sandals”.
Baptism of Jesus
John was standing near the river Jordan, talking about repentance and baptism. Then Jesus came to him for taking baptism. When He came and baptized in the water, the heaven opened up, and the Holy Spirit came upon him like a dove. There was a voice coming from heaven, “You are my beloved son; in You, I am well pleased”.
But when Jesus came to John to be baptized, he said, how could he baptized the son of God? Instead said, he needed to baptized by Jesus. Jesus said to John, not to refuse for baptize him as this must be happened as per the will of God to be fulfilled. John obeyed Jesus and baptized him.
By seeing all the things that happened, John understood that Jesus was the one he was waiting. He was the saviour of the world, who came to save all humankind. John was preparing a way for Jesus only.
Death of John the Baptist
During that time, Herod was King. He had taken Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, as his wife.
John the Baptist wants to the palace of King Herod and said to him, what the King had done was wrong. He should not take his brother’s wife as his own. King Herod frightened after hearing John’s words and wanted to kill him. But he could not do so as he knew that if he killed John the Baptist; people who loved John the Baptist would against him. People consider John as the Prophet of God. But instead of killing John, King Herod put him into the prison. He knew that John was a righteous man and very tough to handle.
The King put John into the prison, but he was very disturbed within his heart. He knew that what he had done was completely wrong, and John the Baptist had spoken the truth. Sometimes King seeks advised from John the Baptist and follows the advice. This made Herodias very envious as she did not like John at all. She thought that it was good to be the wife of King Herod, and there was nothing wrong in it. She was always thinking negative about John and wanted to get rid of him anyhow.
She started to plan something very dangerous. She included her daughter in her plan to execute.
She was searching for the opportunity to execute her plan. She got the chance on the day of the birthday of King Herod. In that day all the high officials and special guest were invited to celebrate King’s birthday.
For the entertainment of the guest, Herodias arranged a dance program of her daughter. She danced very well, and all the guest and King were entertain praised of her dance a lot. King Herod was so pleased that he said to give anything she wanted and even his half of the kingdom.
This was the opportunity that she was waiting and she asked something that everyone was surprized. It was not gold, silver or kingdom.
She said she wanted the head of John the Baptist on a plate immediately! Everyone, along with King, was astonished by the demand of Herodias’s daughter. There was a silence in that hall. The king regret of the promised that he had committed just a few minutes back. Now there was no taken back of his promises as he made before all the guests. He had to fulfill the wish on demand.
In this way, Herodias fulfilled her desire; John the baptized was beheaded in prison.
When the disciples of John the Baptist heard about the incident that had happened, they requested King Herod for John’s body. They took his body and buried it. This news spread all over. Jesus also heard about the death of John the Baptist from his disciples.
When Jesus heard the incident that had happened to John the Baptist, He said, “Among those born of women there was no greater prophet than John the Baptist.”
Moral of the Story
John sacrificed his life for not any wrong things but for keeping the truth. He came to this world to speak about the fact and led people to repentance of their sins. His primary purpose was to prepare the way for God and bring people from darkness to light. He was very faithful in his duty without a doubt. He was a man of courage and faith until the end of his day.
Let’s be faithful like John the Baptist and bring people around us from darkness to the light. Be courageous and truthful always. We must also prepare others for the coming of Lord as John witness the arrival of the Lord and prepare the way for HIM. John knew the purpose of his life, and he never distracts from his purpose. He set his focus on the task for which he came to this earth. The story tells not to compromise of faith as John never did so. It also reminds, that repentance of sin truly matters for everyone. Without repentance and forgiveness of sins, it is impossible to inherit eternal life.
Jesus wants our pure heart and complete devotion towards HIM only.
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