The Testimony of John the Baptist

 

I believe Jesus came from heaven in the flesh, because that’s what John the Baptist said.

John the Baptist was the greatest of those born of women…Matt. 11:11

 

Mat 11:11  Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

 

Jesus said of John the Baptist that of those born of women there had not risen a greater than John the Baptist.  Think about that.  Both John and Jesus came forth of a woman, so is Jesus saying that John was greater than Himself?  Of course not.  What Jesus was saying was that John was the greatest servant of God that was born of an earthly woman’s flesh.   With these words Jesus is giving great praise to John, but he is also separating Himself from those born of women. 

 

So what was the difference between John, a man born of a miracle birth[1], and Jesus, a man born of a miracle birth?  The difference is that John was born of the earth like every other descendent of Adam[2].  Jesus came from above, the Word of God made Flesh.  This truth was at the core of John’s message to Israel as he sought to prepare them to turn to the Lord.

All flesh is grass, but the word of our God shall stand for ever…Isa. 40:5-8

 

John’s mission was to prepare the hearts of Israel to receive the Messiah.  The message that John was to bear was foretold in Isaiah 40.  When John asks God what he is to cry (preach) the first thing God tells him is to draw the distinction between the flesh of this world and the Word of God.  He is to tell them that the flesh of this world is as grass; it withers up and dies, but that the Word of God stands forever.  This is an important message because it is what God was telling John to tell Israel so that the foundation could be laid for them to receive their Messiah[3]. 

 

Isa 40:3  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.

Isa 40:4  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:

 

These first few verses are talking about how that John would play the role of seeking to straighten out all the false teaching, false beliefs, and false actions that were causing men to miss salvation in the spiritual desert of Israel.  The high and mighty religious leaders (the mountains and hills) who promulgated these false ways had to be brought down from their positions in order for the poor of this world (the valleys) to be exalted through the work of salvation.  We see this in John’s message where he spoke of the Pharisees and Sadducees as vipers and warned them that their time of ruling Israel was coming to an end with the coming of the kingdom of God (Matthew 3:7-10).

 

Isa 40:5  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.

Isa 40:6  The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field:

Isa 40:7  The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the LORD bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass.

Isa 40:8  The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.

 

These verses speak of another key aspect of John’s message.  He was to prepare the people to understand the glory of Lord that was about to be revealed.  In other words, he was to prepare them to understand Jesus. To do this he was to draw the distinction between the flesh of the people of the earth and its transitory nature – it fades away over the years and eventually dies – and word of God that stands forever.  If Jesus was come in an earthly body of flesh He would have been just like us – fading away over the years into death.  But this wasn’t the way He came.  Jesus was the Word made Flesh.  His flesh is eternal as these verses from Isaiah foretell.  John was to teach this to Israel and he did.

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us…John 1:14-15

 

John 1:14  And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

John 1:15  John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me.

 

John bore witness of Jesus as the Word made Flesh and as one who came before Him[4].  He does not teach Jesus as a hybrid being, partially of the earth, partially of God.  He teaches Him as the Word made Flesh.  Remember, John’s role was to prepare Israel to understand the Messiah so that they could receive Him.  If understanding Jesus as formed from Mary’s flesh and God’s Spirit was the correct way to understand the Messiah we would see it in John’s message and it is not there. 

He that cometh from above is above all…John 3:31-34.

 

John 3:31  He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all.

 

John taught that Jesus came from above.  He was careful to make this clear to his listeners.  He not only said that He came from above, he went to the trouble of making this distinct from having come from the earth[5].  The Savior as John taught Him comes from above – body, soul, and spirit.  He is not of the earth at all. 

 

John 3:32  And what he hath seen and heard, that he testifieth; and no man receiveth his testimony.

John 3:33  He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true.

John 3:34  For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him.

 

John says the same thing here that Jesus says in John 6:44-45 and John 8:42-47.  Someone that is of God here’s God’s word. Not everyone who has started down the path of following Christ has heard the teaching of the Son as the one who came down from above, but when they do they will receive it[6]. 

____________________________________________________________________

 

John was to prepare Israel to receive their Messiah.  To do this he had to bring down the exalted religious leaders and their false teachings and he had to teach the people about the glory of the Lord that was about to be revealed.  The glory of the Lord as John taught Him was the eternal Word of God manifest in flesh that had come from above.  He taught this as distinct from the flesh of this world that fades away.  There is no “fully human and fully God” message from John. 

 

Remember how important John’s message was. It was to prepare Israel to receive their Messiah.  Why is this so absent from the salvation messages heard today? 

 

Let the scriptures speak.


[1] John was born to parents who were well beyond the normal childbearing years. See Luke 1 for other aspects of John’s miracle birth.

[2] John was unique from most men in another way.  The scriptures also say of John that he was filled with – controlled by – the Holy Ghost from his mother’s womb (Luke 1:15).  This is different from most men.  Most of us only receive the Holy Ghost upon being born again.  John was controlled by the Spirit of God while still in His mother’s womb.

[3] Jesus is the Word Made Flesh (John 1:14).  When the disciples shook Jesus’ hand, or gave Him a hug, they were literally touching the Word of Life.  John the Apostle was fascinated by this and wrote of it in I John 1:1-2. 

[4] See Because He is the Firstborn of Every Creature.

[5] John also spoke of the implications of one who comes from the earth, saying, “He that is of the earth speaks of the earth.”  The antichrist is an earthly man who claims to be God.  His message is an earthly one.  He brings economic prosperity and temporary peace to this world. The true Christ came from heaven.  His message is a heavenly one.  His followers are the poor and lowly of this world and seek an everlasting kingdom that comes from God above.

[6] See the discussion of John 6 and John 8 in the section Because that’s What He Said About Himself. 

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