Life of John the Baptist Term Paper

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Life of John the Baptist

John the Baptist was the son of a Jewish couple by the names of Elizabeth and Zachariah; they were both associate of the Jewish priesthood division. Both where well on in years and they still had no children because Elizabeth was barren. All of his life, Zachariah had prayed to the Lord God to give him a son. Then, one day, an angel of the Lord appeared to him and told him not to be afraid of him, he told him that his prayers had been listen to and they were about to be answered.

Zachariah was then told that his wife Elizabeth, despite of her age, would bear him a son and that they would name him John. The angel also told Zachariah that his son John would be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit from the very first day of his birth. Zachariah was then advised that John would be the return of the spirit and power (qualities) of the ancient prophet Elijah. He then informed him that John would be a precursor and that he would be preparing the way for someone else who would be much greater than he would.

As John grew up, he went about his business teaching the people until, one day, he met Jesus and baptized him in the river Jordan. It was then that the power of the Holy Spirit was hand on to Jesus. Let us begin by analyzing some of those charming biblical prophecies, which were recorded in the writings of the apostle Luke.

In the days of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zachariah, of the division of the priesthood called after Abijah. His wife also was of the priestly descent; her name was Elizabeth. Both of them were upright and devout, blamelessly observing all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord. But they had no children, for Elizabeth was barren, and both were well on in years. (Luke 1)

An angel of the Lord now told Zachariah that his prayer has been heard and that it has been answered. He is told that his wife Elizabeth will bear him a son and that he shall name him John.

Do not be afraid Zachariah; your prayer has been heard; your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall name him John. (Luke 1)

Zachariah finds out that his son will be eminent and that he will be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit from the very day of his birth. In other words, the Spirit of God would be with him from the very first day of his life on this planet.

From his very birth he will be filled with the Holy Spirit; and he will bring back many Israelites to the Lord their God. (Luke 1)

The angel then informed Zachariah that his son John would be a forerunner groom the way for a Godly manifestation. He also tells him that John would be the return of the power, meaning the qualities, and of the spirit of the ancient prophet Elijah.

He will go before him as forerunner, possessed by the spirit and power of Elijah, to reconcile father and child, to convert the rebellious to the ways of the righteous, to prepare a people that shall be fit for the Lord." (Luke 1)

When John began final preparations for his mission, he was most likely in his thirty-second year. He withdrew into the harsh, rocky desert beyond the Jordan to fast and pray, as was the earliest custom of holy men. We are told that he kept himself alive by eating locusts and wild honey and wore a rough garment of camel's hair, tied with a leathern girdle. When he came back, to start preaching in the villages of Judaea, he was fatigued and uncouth, but his eyes burned with zeal and his voice carried deep conviction. The Jews were familiar to preachers and prophets who gave no thought to outward appearances, and they customary John at once; the times were troubled, and the people yearned for reassurance and comfort. So transcendent was the power emanating from the holy man that after hearing him many believed he was certainly the long-awaited Messiah. John quickly put them right, saying he had come only to prepare the way, and that he was not commendable to unloose the Master's sandals. Although his preaching and baptizing continued for some months during the Savior's own ministry, John always made plain that he was only the Forerunner. His humility remained incorruptible even when his fame spread to Jerusalem and members of the higher priesthood came to make investigation and to hear him" Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand,"-this was John's oft-repeated theme. For the evils of the times, his remedy was individual purification. "Every tree," he said, "that is not bringing forth good fruit is to be cut down and thrown into the fire." The improvement of each person's life must be complete the wheat must be separated from the chaff and the chaff burned "with unquenchable fire." (Lives of Saints)

The power of the Holy Spirit, which was present in John the Baptist from the very day of his birth, was now conveyed to Jesus when he is baptized in the river Jordan.

During general baptism of the people, when Jesus too had been baptized and was praying, heaven opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove; and there came a voice from heaven, "You are my son, my beloved, on you my favour rests." (Luke 3)

The rite of baptism, a symbolic act suggesting sincere repentance as well as a desire to be spiritually cleansed in order to receive the Christ, was so strongly stress by John that people began to call him "the baptizer." The Scriptures tell us of the day when Jesus joined the group of those who wished to receive baptism at John's hands. John knew Jesus for the Messiah they had so long expected, and at first excused him as undeserving, in obedience to Jesus, he complies and baptized Him. Although sinless, Jesus chose to be baptized in order to identify Himself with the human lot. And when He arose from the waters of the Jordan, where the rite was performed, the heavens opened and the Spirit as a dove descended. And there came a voice from the heavens, Thou art my beloved Son, in Thee I am well pleased" (Mark 1).

In the fifteenth year of the reign of the Roman emperor, Tiberias Caesar, Herod Antipas was the provincial governor or tetrarch of a subdivision of Palestine that included Galilee and Peraea, a district lying east of the Jordan. In the course of John's preaching, he had denounced in unmeasured terms the immorality of Herod's petty court, and had even boldly upbraided Herod to his face for his defiance of old Jewish law, especially in having taken to himself the wife of his half-brother, Philip. This woman, the dissolute Herodias, was also Herod's niece. Herod feared and reverenced John, knowing him to be a holy man, and he followed his recommendation in many matters; but he could not bear having his private life castigated. Herodias stimulated his anger by lies and artifices. His resentment at length got the better of his judgment and he had.

Herodias never ceased plotting against the life of John, who was not calm even by prison walls. His followers now became even more turbulent. To Herodias soon came the opportunity she had long sought to put an end to the troublemaker. On Herod's birthday, he gave a banquet for the chief men of that region. In Matthew xiv, Mark VI, and Luke ix, we are given parallel accounts of this infamous occasion, which was to culminate in John's death. At the feast, Salome, fourteen-year-old daughter of Herodias by her lawful husband, pleased Herod and his guests so much by her dancing that Herod promised on pledge to give her anything that it was in his power to give, even though it should amount to half his kingdom. Salome, acting under the direction and influence of her wicked mother, answered that she wished to have the head of John the Baptist, presented to her on a platter. Such a horrible request shocked and unnerved Herod.

There was great grief among the people who had hearkened to him, and when the believer of Jesus heard the news of John's death, they came and took the body and rest it respectfully in a tomb. Jesus, with some of his disciples, retired "to a desert place apart," to grieve. The Jewish historian Josephus, giving further testimony of John's holiness, writes:

He was indeed a man endued with all virtue, who exhorted the Jews to the practice of justice towards men and piety towards God; and also to baptism, preaching that they would become acceptable to God if they…

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