In verse 19-35 John temporarily shifts his attention to John the Baptist and his message. In keeping with his focus, John does not give the reader any historical information about John the Baptist. Instead, he shares selective quotes that further attest to the person of Jesus Christ – proclaiming that Jesus in the Lamb of God.
As we read this section of chapter one we get a sense the Jewish priests and Pharisees are confused by John the Baptist – who is he, by whose authority has he come, and what should they make of his message.
Our focus for this lesson is twofold: Getting to know John the Baptist, and what was he really saying when he proclaimed Jesus as the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”
READ JOHN 1:19-35
John the Baptist – a little history
“Now this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priest and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, ‘who are you’…And they asked him, ‘what then, are you Elijah?...Are you the Prophet?’ And he answered, ‘no’….’Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet’.” John 1:19;21;25
There are 400 years between the last book of the Old Testament and the first book of the New Testament. There are very few indicators in Scripture that God spoke through prophets during this period. In Luke 2:26 we are told of Anna the prophetess, and in Matthew 11:13, Jesus said that all the law and prophets prophesied until John. From what we can gather, God may not have been silent in terms of using verbal communication, but it is evident that what may have been spoken was not recorded in written form. Regardless, it is clear that when John the Baptist came on the scene, he caused confusion and debate among the Jewish people and leaders. His methods are unique, and though he speaks with power and courage, he appears to be a humble man – evening denying that he is a prophet and choosing to answer with prophetic scripture.
“I am ‘the voice of one crying in the wilderness: Make straight the way of the Lord’ as the prophet Isaiah said.” John 1:23
John the Baptist preached a message of repentance and water baptism for cleansing of sin to prepare the way for the Messiah. The Jews understood the importance of cleansing rituals before coming into the presence of the Lord. These cleansing rituals were implemented and confirmed by the priests during Old Testament time. It is easy to understand why the priests during John’s time were confused by his performing baptisms. John was wise to answer the priests with prophetic Scripture because they would have known of this prophecy.
READ LUKE CHAPTER ONE -
It is the account of the birth of John the Baptist and his purpose as proclaimed by the angel Gabriel.
“’And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Highest; for you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people by the remission of their sins….to guide our feet into the way of peace.’” So the child grew and became strong in spirit, and was in the deserts til the day of his manifestation to Israel.” Luke 1:76-77;79b-80
Jesus acknowledged John the Baptist as a prophet giving approval and further confirming that God sent John.
“As they departed, Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John: ‘ What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? But what did you go out to see? A man clothed in soft garments? Indeed, those who wear soft clothing are kings’ houses. But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I say to you, and more than a prophet. For this is he of whom it is written: ‘Behold, I sent My messenger before Your face, who will prepare Your way before You.’ Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven suffers violence , and the violent take it by force. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to receive it, he is Elijah who is to come. He who has an ear let him hear!” Matthew 11:7-16
It is clear that John the Baptist had power and authority given to Him by God and his message can and should be taken to heart.
Jesus – The Lamb of God
“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, ‘Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!...And John bore witness, saying, ‘I saw the Spirit descending like a dove, and He remained upon Him. I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.” John 1:29-34.
What are the implications of this statement? The Jewish people understood the concept of a lamb of God – as was instituted by God during the great Exodus from Egypt during the first Passover and remained throughout history for the Jewish people for the atonement of sin.
READ EXODUS CHAPTER 12 & HEBREWS CHAPTERS 8-10
“…How much more shall the blood of Christ, through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleans your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” Hebrews 9:14
“And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain…” Revelation 5:6
John was not only proclaiming Jesus as the Son of God, he claimed that he is “The” Lamb of God, not “a” lamb of God. Did John’s audience wonder if John was saying this Jesus would one day be a sin offering? And what did He mean by Jesus baptizing with the Holy Spirit?
The thoughts of John’s listeners will become evident as we move through the book of John.
There are many other cross references to bring deeper meaning to this section of John. I invite you to share your insights and pose any questions you may have.
Come back next week as we are introduced to a few of the men who chose to follow the Lamb of God - bringing chapter one to an end.
"The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus." John 1:37
Have you made Jesus your Lamb?
» left by Marijo Phelps(133) (2 years 246 days ago.)
Wow, very good "meat" here - I am so glad you are doing this series. Sending you an e-hug! We are back!!MarijoRespond to this comment
» left by Teresa(1,344) (2 years 245 days ago.)
Thank you for the support. We are having a great time in class - it's impossible to share everything that comes up without making each lesson too long. But I do pray that what is shared here will lead to discussion and cause hearts to desire to dig deeper into the word of God. Many blessings to you! T
Respond to this comment
» left by Cheery Blossom(26) (2 years 244 days ago.)
Very interesting, and very well done. I had never thought about whether there were prophets during the 400 year interval. Great food for thought.Respond to this comment
» left by Teresa Ortz (2 years 243 days ago.)
Thanks for the comment. It is something to ponder. What of the prophets up until John? And how much can we really learn of Anna? She was after Malachi.
It is interesting. Makes me wonder if the hearts of the people just grew cold to the message? John the Baptist is not the typical prophet we read about in the Old Testament.
Blessings to you! Teresa
Respond to this comment
» left by Anonymous (2 years 240 days ago.)
Amazing implications and very well written study. After all you're my favourite BIBLE TEACHER & WRITER...God bless you sister...are you busy these days? I can't see much of your activities in SW?Respond to this comment
» left by Teresa Ortiz (2 years 238 days ago.)
Thank you for the great and encouraging words :-). Yes, I am very busy. I had to chose one site for now, and since I am doing this bible study, I thought this would be a great place to focus. I will someday return to a more active place on Searchwarp and I am hoping it will be within the next few months. I miss so many people there and I can't wait to get back into so many conversations.
I am saddened by the amount of Christians that are following away from the absolute authority of the word of God and buying into this new kind of "God is love". SO I am praying this study will encourage many to return to the authority of Christ and Christ alone. But then again. It is what Jesus told us would happen before the antichrist would set up shop - so to speak.
Keep preaching brother! Hugs to you and Asmita. Teresa
Respond to this comment
» left by Chiradeep (2 years 240 days ago.)
That 'Anonymous' was me...Respond to this comment
» left by rose maya from Rosemead, CA (2 years 89 days ago.)We appreciate your comments!
Hi Teresa, Just a note to let you know I'm reading the Book of Luke Chapter 1. I am learning a few more things about John the Baptist, Sat. I will ask you a question. See you then. Love you, MomRespond to this comment