John (the Baptist)
He was the forerunner who prepared the way for Jesus and baptised Him (Mt 3:1-17). Jesus made the statement “there is none greater than John, yet the one who is least in the Kingdom of God is greater than he” (Lk 7: 28). His parents were Zechariah and Elizabeth.
His story is told in the opening chapters of all four Gospels with a few references in Acts.
Lessons from his life: * “The voice of one calling in the desert, prepare the way for the Lord”, were some of the words prophesied about him by Isaiah, an angel, and then his father, declaring what sort of person he was to be and the nature of his work (Isa 40:3; Mt 3:3; Lk 1:13-17,67-79). He was set apart, having a specific role to play in God’s plan and put all his energies into fulfilling that task to which he had been called. He remained faithful to that. We too have been called into the Kingdom for a purpose – find and do it. Invest your life for eternal rewards not the passing praise of men.
* He spoke clearly of repentance from sin and the necessity to prove that by a change in lifestyle giving practical and clear directives – it was not just theory or ideals; John spoke of life-changing action (Mt 3:6-8; Lk 3:10-14). Those that committed to living this new way were fully immersed in water (baptized) as a public and outward symbolic ‘proof’ of an inner change. Have I an ongoing attitude of repentance, turning from things the Holy Spirit convicts me of, confirming the reality of my baptism and truly meaning death to the old life (Rom 6:1-14). Our following Jesus also calls for radical action, self-sacrifice and dedication, which is vastly different to the philosophy of the natural world whose main priority is taking care of one’s own self.
* He wasn’t afraid to speak out and confront sin – this ultimately cost him his life (Mk 6:17-29; Lk 3:19,20). In serving God we are not guaranteed an easy or safe life but are assured of eternal rewards (Mt 19:29). Do I fearlessly speak out the message of God or do I compromise by altering it depending on those listening.
* John was a relative of Jesus and slightly older yet he did not resent Jesus arriving on the scene and taking over (Lk 1:36). He freely stated, “I am not the Christ”. He had prepared the way and willingly stepped aside allowing Jesus to increase while he decreased, in fact he said he was not worthy to even be his slave (Mk 1:7; Jn 1:20-37, 3:25-36). Am I as willing and gracious to hand my work to another for the common cause? Our job is to point people to Christ, not to get people following us.