About Jesus - Steve Sweetman
Chapter 1:19 to
John The Baptist
Denies Being The Christ
learn in verse 19 that John the Baptist caught the ears of the Jewish
leaders in Jerusalem. They were curious to know just who he was since many people were
coming out into the wilderness to hear him speak and to be baptized by
him. The Jewish leaders sent
their representatives and asked John who he was.
verse 19 speaks of the "Jews", we should not understand these
Jews to be the general Jewish public or all the Jews.
The Jews John spoke of here were the leaders of the Jews.
who the leaders sent out to John were priests and Levites.
Remember, the Levite tribe of
verse 20 John confessed, and the text says, "confessed
freely", which gives emphasis to his confession; that he was not
the Christ, the long awaited for Messiah of Israel.
The title "Christ" and the title "Messiah"
mean the same thing. "Christ"
is Greek. "Messiah"
Is Hebrew. It is clear that everyone was wondering if John the Baptist
was the Jewish Messiah who would free them from foreign domination, the
Messiah that had been prophesied in the Old Testament.
verse 21 the priests and Levites asked John if he was either Elijah.
If John was not the Christ, maybe he might be Elijah who would
announce the coming of the Messiah.
Malachi 4:5 and 3:1 tell us that there would be an Elijah type
figure that would precede the coming of the Messiah.
clearly answered that he was not Elijah reincarnate.
With this answer in mind we might want to recall Jesus' words in
Mathew 11:14 and 17:12. There,
he said that if you can accept it, John was Elijah.
You might think there is a discrepancy between what John said and
what Jesus said. This is how
I view this. John did not
believe he was Elijah who had returned in a reincarnate form.
The Bible does not teach reincarnation, and neither did Jesus
when He said that if you can accept it, John was Elijah.
What I believe Jesus meant here is that John came in the spirit
of the Elijah that Malachi prophesied about.
As an aside, many Prophetic Futurists believe that another man
will come in the spirit of Elijah before the return of the Lord.
Many believe one of the two prophets spoken of in the book of
Revelation is in fact this Elijah.
priests and Levites then asked John if he was "that prophet".
This is in relation to Deuteronomy 18:15 where Moses predicted
that a prophet, like him, would come to redeem Israel.
verse 22, after saying that he wasn’t any of these three people the
men asked him just who he was. They
needed to return with some kind of answer.
verse 23 John answered by saying, "I am the voice of one calling
out in the desert. Make
straight the way of the Lord."
This is a direct quote from Isaiah 40:3.
So, John was not one of the three above mentioned people, but,
he, his very existence was a fulfillment of prophecy. John
literally was a lone voice crying out in a real desert, yet at the same
time the Jewish nation was in a desert spiritually.
John, a Jew, was crying out in a spiritual desert as well as a
literal desert. He was
telling his parched and dry countrymen to repent and return to their
God, thus making the way easier for the Messiah to return to them.
We will soon see in John's account that the Jewish leaders
refused to hear him.
that in verse 24 and 25 there were actually some Pharisees along with
the priests and Levites, or, possibly they came later.
These men asked John why he was baptizing if he was not the
Christ, Elijah, or that prophet. What
right and by whose authority did he have to baptize Jews?
it comes to water baptism, Jews were never water baptized.
Gentile proselytes, that is Gentiles who converted to Judaism,
however, were baptized by water into Judaism.
You might then see then why the Jewish leadership was so
concerning. If baptism was
never meant for Jews, but for Jewish proselytes, John was baptizing in
error. He was in fact
equating Jews with Gentiles and that would have been blasphemous to the
is also interesting to note that pagan religions also baptized their
aren't, and weren't the only ones who baptized people.
verse 23 John said that he baptized with water.
We learn elsewhere that this baptism is a baptism of repentance.
This means that those who wanted to put their trust in the soon coming
Messiah had to first repent. One
needs to repent before believing. I've
said this over and over again, but we need to return to a Biblical
understanding of both repentance and forgiveness.
The modern church has adopted worldly ways of thinking in this
Greek view of repentance was a changing of one's mind when it came to
sin. The Hebrew view of
repentance was a walking away from sin, not just changing your mind
about sin. Too often our
western Christianity has adopted the Greek version of repentance, but
repentance is more than changing your mind about your sin.
It is in fact walking away from a lifestyle of sin.
This is how we should view repentance.
spoke of the soon coming Messiah, who in verse 26 he said was standing
among them. Whether He was
actually standing among them at that very moment we really don't know
because John himself did not know who the Messiah was at that point. I
would find it very interesting if in fact Jesus was actually standing in
the crowd as John spoke these words.
Some might even suggest that the context says Jesus was in the
crowd at that very moment.
often have wondered what Jesus must have been thinking about when he was
standing in that crowd listening to John.
He knew John was talking about Him.
He was just waiting for the exact moment to step up and allow
John to baptize Him. I say,
"the exact moment" because I am convinced that God has a
time-table for all things, and what He does is done at the exact moment.
In verse 27 John said that he was not worthy to even stoop down and untie the sandals of the soon coming Messiah. Jews viewed disciples of rabbis to be the slaves of the rabbis. They were to serve the rabbis in all respects, except, untie their sandals. John was in fact using a cultural situation to show that He was a slave of the soon coming Messiah.
need to mention a contextual problem concerning verse 28.
You will note that the NIV says that John baptized at
location to this town is somewhat significant because this is where Israel
crossed over the