Long had it been foretold by the Prophets, long had a message of a coming Messiah been given to the Israelite’s, to the chosen people, and that one must come before Him (Math 3:3; Isa 40:3).
His story began with a lesson to his Father Zechariah, who was a man approved of by God as a faithful man walking righteously, as was his wife, Elizabeth. Elizabeth was unable to conceive and God sent the angel Gabriel to tell Zechariah that they would have a son. He would turn the hearts of the children of Israel to their God, and present a repented people prepared for the Messiah, who was to come.
Zechariah did not believe and was made mute for his unbelief, until after the time the boy was indeed born. This speaks to the fact that, if even a righteous man like Zechariah had to be reminded that he lacked faith, then our faith in God to fulfil and complete His promises, is paramount to maintaining hope in our Christian walk (Luke 5:1-25).
This John, this one prophesied of preparing the way, met Jesus the Messiah at a very early age. It is recorded that a pregnant Mary traveled to Elizabeth who was a relative of Mary, and the boy John became pretty excited to be in the presence of the Messiah, leaping in his mother’s womb (Luke 1:41).
To read and see the connectivity of God’s master plan to provide a Savior, and to see the calling on the life of a child not yet born, destined for one of the greatest jobs in human history, is nothing short of miraculous.
We then see an image of John as a man with a public ministry, a ministry that ended the prophetic silence of the past 400 years. This truly transitional figure, ushering out the Old Testament narrative and ushering in The New Testament, a key figure moving the mind of the people from an Old Covenant to a New Covenant. One agenda, one purpose. To declare, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near” (Matt 3:2), and to Baptize those who repented.
John fully accepted his subordinate role to Christ. He denied that he was in any way the Christ and repeatedly emphasized that he was simply a witness to the Light (John 1:19-23; cf. also John 1:6-9; John 3:27-30). John stated that Jesus was greater than he, and that Jesus had a more powerful ministry and baptism.
And then comes, or so it seems, the culmination and fulfillment of John’s ministry. Standing in the Jordan, Jesus the Messiah, the one who all these years and ministry have been for, is standing with John, amongst the people who are being baptized.
John is amazed and has no desire to be the one baptizing Jesus, in fact he states it clearly should be the opposite (Matt 3:14).
Can you picture this scene?! What must it have been like to hear the words and the message of repentance John preached, and then to see the very one who would be the source of salvation for all those who repent!
If you ever Journey to the Holy Land, to the mouth of the Jordan River, close your eyes and set the scene.
There stands John, dipping Jesus into the water and out, and from above the sky opens and you see the Spirit of God like a dove descend on Jesus, you hear the deep rumble of the voice of the Father “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (Matt 3; 15-16).
This wild man from the wilderness, a humble man clothed in camel hair, this man rebuking the religious leaders and confronting the immorality of Herod, saying truth that would ultimately cost him his life. (Matt 3:4; Matt 14:3-4; Matt 14:10).
But it was here his ministry had reached it’s crescendo, here in this moment in the Jordan, the voice in the wilderness that had echoed the prophets of old, now stood face to face with the one who brings new life.
Were it not for the wild man John, the stage would never have been set for the old to fade to the new, for the one Jesus of Nazareth to move into His ministry, and to finally be able to proclaim, that He who was to come, had come.