John the Baptist’s Ministry

John the Baptist’s Ministry Launched: Mark 1:1, Luke 3:1-2

His person, proclamation and baptism: Matthew 3:1-6, Mark 1:2-6, Luke 3:3-6

His messages to the Pharisees, Sadducees, crowds, tax collectors and soldiers: Matthew 3:7-10, Luke 3:7-14

His description of Christ: Matthew 3:11-12, Mark 1:7-8, Luke 3:15-18

Read: Matthew 3:1-12, Mark 1:1-8, Luke 3:1-18

Thoughts about serving others

This link includes a list of posts about Serving the Least, the Lost, and the Lonely.

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Let the Word evoke words. May your life encourage lives.

One Reply to “John the Baptist’s Ministry”

  1. Malachi 3:1 refers to the beginning of John the Baptist’s public ministry: “I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me.” Followed by Isaiah’s words: the man preaching in the wilderness, the area around the Jordan River, proclaims the Messiah is coming:

    A voice of one calling: “In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it together. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” Isaiah 40:3-5

    This isn’t new news for the Jews, they’ve been preaching this for centuries, but perhaps John the Baptist is preaching with conviction that is greater than any other. John, the son of Zechariah and Elizabeth, was filled with the Holy Spirit even before he was born (Luke 1:15). We have no record of John’s childhood, his growing up in Jerusalem, but I wonder what this was like? A child born with the Holy Spirit filling his life. He made no claim to suggest he was sinless, his preaching was not about himself, only pointing to the coming Messiah.

    “…the kingdom of heaven has come near” (Matthew 3:2) is a unique phrase in Matthew’s gospel, his phrase to express the need for repentance sooner than later! The others refer to the “kingdom of God.”

    It’s interesting to compare Matthew 3:7 to Mark 1:5 and Luke 3:7:

    • Matthew 3:7. “But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: ‘You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?”
    • Mark 1:5. “The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.”
    • Luke 3:7. “John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, ‘You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?”

    Lots of people were coming out to John to be baptized, that’s for sure, but Matthew records Pharisees and Sadducees were part of the crowd, the religious leaders that he would have known well since he was the child of Zechariah, a priest who was dedicated to his service in the temple. John would have watched these men growing up, he would know who they were behind closed doors, how they actually lived their lives. At the very least, some of them must have felt threatened by his words.

    Of course, John spoke many words, preached many sermons, so in any case, these are merely brief excerpts from whatever words he said and our focus in the Gospels is not on John, but on Jesus Christ, so it makes sense to stay focused on the main message that is consistent in all three accounts:

    • Matthew 3:11.  “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”
    • Mark 1:7-8.  “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
    • Luke 3:16.  John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”


    All three emphasize the Holy Spirit, but there is little talk about the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament, so I’m curious about this statement. The NIV Study Bible note points to Joel 2:28-29 as a prophetic announcement about the Holy Spirit:

    And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days Joel 2:28-29

    This is so amazing! The Holy Spirit is the ultimate equalizer, “all people” means everyone! Not just the righteous Pharisees and Sadducees. I wonder if they read this scroll aloud. Luke includes tax collectors and soldiers among those who came to be baptized, presumably because of their reputation for taking advantage of their positions of authority.

    All people can be saved and all people can receive the Holy Spirit. All means everyone and this is the best possible news!

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