Forgotten Word Ministries

John The Baptist  A Lesson in Self Denial a report by Robert Wise

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  December 04, 2005

What do we know about and what can we learn from the man referred to as John the Baptist? 

Was John a special person or just another preacher who told of Christ's coming?  I believe we have not given credit to where credit is due.  John was signaled out in Scripture by God Himself in the following verses.

We see from Scripture that even before the birth of John the Baptist, God was working in the lives of John's parents. In Luke we see the following:

There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth.  And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.  And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years.  And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest's office before God in the order of his course,  According to the custom of the priest's office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord.  And the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense.  And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense.  And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him.  But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.  And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth.  For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb.   And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God.  And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.  And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years.  And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings.  And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season.  And the people waited for Zacharias, and marvelled that he tarried so long in the temple.  And when he came out, he could not speak unto them: and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple: for he beckoned unto them, and remained speechless.  And it came to pass, that, as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house.  And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, and hid herself five months, saying,  Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men. Luke 1:5-25

So as we can see, God was working in a special way in the lives of John the Baptist's parents.  A special anointing was upon both his parents even before he was conceived.

Matthew 3:1-3  "In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea,  And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.  For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight."   This verse shows us that John was more than just a man, he was a special messenger used by God to foretell the coming of His Son the Living Messiah.

John 1:6, "There was a man sent from God, whose name was John."  Once again we see the special anointing given to John by God.

Matt. 11:11, "Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist..."  This is mighty high praise for just a common man wouldn't you think. 

With these three verses we see not only a man but a tribute to a man who not only recognized his calling but also one who faithfully carried out his calling as God had ordained of him. So, I think we can all agree that John the Baptist was a special person in God's eyes. As you might have noticed, John received his name not from his parents but by God Himself.  Now that is special no matter what we may think!

What was John the Baptist like?  Was he like everyone else?  Did he live at home and do the things other men did?  Did he own a home and have a good job?  Was his life really any different? Let's see what Scripture tells us about the life of John.

1. An angel of the Lord announced his coming to parents too old to have children and to a wife who was barren, Luke 1:8,11.

2. The name John was given by the angel before conception, Luke  1:13. All of us would be honored to be named by God Himself.

3. He was not a Nazarite as was Samson and others, but he was not to partake of alcohol, Luke 1:15.

4. He would be "...filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his motherís womb," Luke 1:15.

5. His dress of camelís hair and a leathern girdle about his loins.. Matt. 3:3,4 I see no where else in Scripture where the other people dressed this way. This must have been a sacrifice by John as he more than likely had no money to purchase regular clothing.

6.  He ate locusts and wild honey; Matthew 1:6  Now I don't know about you, but to eat locust is just not something I believe I would like to acquire a taste for . 

7. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the LORD's hand double for all her sins. The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it. Isaiah 40:2-5,  This shows us that John's life was not normal in the sense that his life was talked about 100's of years before his birth.

8. And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.  John 1:33 Here we see that John knew that he was SENT by God to baptize therefore having a different type of job than others of his day.

9. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.  And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance. but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire. Matthew 3:7-12  What we see here is a message spoken for the first time concerning the Gospel of Jesus Christ!  John spoke of the coming of Jesus who would baptize with the Holy Ghost, he spoke of the need to repent, he spoke of the purging of the believers to Him and the unbelievers to the lake of fire. 

So we see that John was indeed different from others of his day and age.  He lived in the wilderness, ate strange foods, wore strange clothes and preached a strange message, one that was not heard of before.

John the Baptist shows us a man who was willing to be something other than the normal. He was willing to live for years alone in the wilderness with no one to keep him company save from the Lord Himself.  John was willing to do without the everyday necessities that I imagine others of his day took for granted, like a place to sleep under away from the inclement weather, a stove to cook on, clothes to wear that would be comfortable, decent shoes for his feet, decent food and the understanding that he would not have a job like regular guys and get paid for what he was doing.  Basically what it all boils down to is that John was willing to sacrifice his life (without knowing it was coming to that) for the work that he was ordained by God to do.  The life that John lived could not have been a comfortable one.  It could not have been a life that showed lots of laughter and joy, even though we know little of the day to day life in the wilderness.  John's life was very special.  He gave of himself willingly.  He was not virgin born as Christ was but he certainly was specially anointed.  He gave of his life while in prison because of his preaching of the coming King of Kings.  He had nothing left to give to his children as he never married and had no children.  He willingly practiced self-denial, a trait we all can take a lesson from.  How hard must it have been to live all that time in the wilderness being prepared for his anointed duty and all the while having nothing for himself even as to the food he had to eat just to survive.  Yet, John the Baptist, willing denied his own self for the God he knew and loved.  We should pray we could do a portion of what John did.

As shown above, we must be as willing as John if we are to be able to accomplish what God has called us to do.  Maybe it's time we all took a little time to re-evaluate our personal lives and see what we might be willing to give to God instead of to ourselves.

NOTE: You know it is something amazing to realize that John the Baptist was a special messenger of God, anointed by God Himself, yet we know not even his last name.  Baptist was a name given to him in his later years of life.  BUT, when you reach Heaven, you can find him easily by just asking for John the Baptist, everyone will know him.

We pray this little study of John the Baptist has been a blessing for you.      What are your thoughts on this article?

Robert Wise