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John Begins His Ministry
"I will praise You, Oh LORD with my whole heart; I will tell the world of all Your wondrous works [Psalm 9:1].”
Five months before Jesus turned thirty, John began preaching in the wilderness of Judea. Being filled with the Holy Spirit, the people gathered around him and eagerly followed him to see what wonders he would display. This was after fifteen years of the reign of Tiberius Caesar while Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea. Herod Antipas, Herod the Great's son, was tetrarch (meaning fourth head) in Galilee and Petraea (4 BC – 39 AD) and Herod's brother Philip was tetrarch of Ituraea and the country of Trachonitis. Lysanius was tetrarch of Abilene. This was during the high priesthood of Hanan and Caiaphas.84 Three years later, Hanan, Caiaphas, Herod and Pilate would be instrumental in the crucifixion of our Lord.85
God spoke to John while he was in the wilderness of Judea. This is John, the son of Zacharias, a priest. Therefore, according to the hereditary law of the Levites, John was to be a priest and serve in the Temple. Instead, John rejected the office of priesthood and serving in the Temple to obey what God told him to do while John was in the wilderness.
His clothes were made of camel's hair and he had a girdle of leather belts around his waist and loins. His food was locusts and wild honey.86 John went around Jordan preaching and told the people to repent, for earthly life is temporal and the kingdom of heaven was coming. The glory of the LORD shall be revealed, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken it. He preached that they should be baptized after they repented, so their sins would be forgiven.87 This was actually the Baptism of Grace that was given to the world three years later after Jesus was crucified and resurrected. Forgiveness for sins at the time that John was baptizing was attained by sacrifices of animals.
This was foretold in Isaiah 40, verses 3 – 8 seven hundred years earlier and again by Malachi (3:1 – 6) four hundred years earlier when they predicted a voice in the wilderness saying to prepare a way for the Lord, straighten the paths of our God, let all flesh see His salvation, and much more.88
On August 17, 2004, the New York Times published a news release by Associated Press entitled 'Scholars Say John the Baptist Used This Cave for Immersions'. The cave was found 2.5 miles from the town of Ein Kerem, where John the Baptist may have been born. In the cave, a British archaeologist, Shimon Gibson and his team from the University of North Carolina found about 250,000 shards from small jugs that were apparently used in purification rituals. At the bottom of the cave is a niche where clothes may have been placed before immersion. Images carved on walls tell the story of John the Baptist's life. If this is true, John baptized both in the river Jordan and in a cave. John also baptized at a spring in Chapter 26.
It was near here that the whole province of Judea and Jerusalem and the country around Jordan came to see and hear John the Baptist; they confessed their sins and John baptized them in the river Jordan.89
The Sadducees were the wealthy aristocrats holding powerful positions in the ruling council called the Sanhedrin, and held the positions of chief priests and the high priest. The Pharisees were mostly middle class businessmen. The Sadducees, believed the written word as from God, but did not believe in miracles or in life after death (Matthew 22:23), and did not believe in angels and demons (Acts 23:8). The Pharisees believed both the written word and the resurrection of the dead (Acts 23:6) but they also believed in oral traditions that added to the instructions in the Bible, even though they were forbidden to do so (Deuteronomy 4:2). The Pharisees treated traditions as having equal authority as Scripture; their relationship with God was reduced to a legalistic list of rules and rituals.
When John saw that many Pharisees and Sadducees were coming to be baptized, he was angry and said to them, "Oh, offspring of scorpions, who warned you to escape from the anger which is coming? If you want to escape, bring forth accomplishments that are worthy of repentance. Do not even think that you will be saved just because you are descendants of Abraham. I tell you now that God can raise up children for Abraham from these stones. I am warning you that the axe is already placed at the root the trees; and every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and cast into the fire."
So the people asked him, "Then what should we do?"
And John answered, "He who has two shirts, give one to him who has none. He who has food should do likewise."90
Tax collectors came and asked, "Teacher, what shall we do?" John said, "Do not demand anything more than what the Romans commanded you to collect." This was because many tax collectors wanted to collect all they could so the Romans would give them better jobs.
The soldiers asked him what they should do. John said, "Do not exploit any man and do not worship any man. Your own wages should be enough for you."91
The people placed their hope in John, thinking, "Perhaps he is the Christ."
John answered, "Behold, I baptize you with water; but there is one coming after me who is much greater than I. I am not worthy to bend down and tie the laces of His sandals [meaning to be His servant]. He will baptize you with fire [Light] and with the Holy Spirit.92 His pitchfork is in His hand and He purifies His threshing floor. He will gather the wheat into His barns and He will burn the thistles with unquenchable fire." Then he preached and taught them many more things.93
While John was baptizing in Bethlehem at the Jordan crossing, the Pharisees sent high priests and Levites to him from Jerusalem asking, "Who are you?"
John said, "I confess and do not deny it. I am not the Christ [the Messiah], the Anointed One."
So they asked, "Then who are you? Are you Elijah?"
"I am not."
"Are you a prophet?"
"Well tell us who you are so that we can answer those that sent us. What do you say concerning yourself?"
"I am the voice that cries in the wilderness, 'Straighten the path of the Lord,' as the prophet Isaiah proclaimed."94
"Why, then are you baptizing, if you are not the Christ nor Elijah nor a prophet?"
"I baptize with water. But there is one standing among you whom you do not know. This is the one who comes after me, but is ahead of me. He is the one whom even the laces of His sandals I am not good enough to untie." These events occurred in Bethany by the other side of the river Jordan where John was baptizing.95
85. John 11:47–53; 18:13–24, 29–40; 19:1–22; Luke 23:6–24.
86. Mark 1:6; Matthew 3:4.
87. Luke 3:3; Mark 1:4; Matthew 3:1-3.
88. Luke 3:4–6; Mark 1: 2–3; Matthew 3:1–3.
89. Mark 1:5; Matthew 3:5–6.
90. Luke 3:7–11; Matthew 3:7–10.
91. Luke 3:12–14.
92. Luke 3:15, 16; Mark 1:7, 8; Matthew 3:11, 12.
93. Luke 3:17, 18.
94. Isaiah 40:3–8.
95. John 1:19-28.
John Baptizes Jesus and God Declares Jesus His Son
The next day when all the people were baptized, Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee to be baptized in the Jordan by John. When John saw Jesus coming to him, he said, "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!"
By calling Him the Lamb of God, he meant God's unblemished lamb, God's only Son who was without sin and the perfect sacrifice for all the sins of the world, once, and for all. When Abraham took his only son up on Mount Moriah to sacrifice as God commanded him, Isaac asked, "Father, where is the lamb for the burnt offering?" Abraham answered, "God will provide Himself a lamb for a burnt offering, my son (Genesis 22:7, 8).” Two thousand years later, perhaps to the day, God provided Himself Jesus, the unblemished lamb for the offering on the very same Mount Moriah.
John went on to say, "This is the one of whom I said, 'This is the mighty man who comes after me and yet is ahead of me, because he was before me"96 I would not know Him, but that He might be made known to Israel, I was here baptizing with water. Now I see the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it is resting on His shoulder. I would not have even known Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water told me that I would see the Spirit descending and resting on Him and He is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit. Now I testify to all of you that this is the Son of God!"97
When Jesus asked John to baptize Him, John tried to stop Him.
"You come to me to be baptized? I need to be baptized by you!"
Jesus answered, "Permit it now, because it is decreed for us that all righteousness will be fulfilled."
So John baptized Jesus. When He came up out of the water the sky opened and the Spirit of God descended like a dove while everybody watched. Then they heard a voice from heaven, "You are My beloved Son, with whom I am fulfilled."98
God spoke to many people individually throughout history, but this is the only time God spoke to all the people in a huge gathering. This not only proved for all time that Jesus was indeed the Son of God; it also proved for all time that God does indeed exist. In addition to the unexplainable complexity and splendor of all living and non-living things that have been created, it can only lead a sensible person to the conclusion that the universe is the result of an infinitely intelligent designer, the "scientists", Gnostics, agnostics, the atheists and the evolutionists cannot refute this much recorded historical fact that God spoke to a large group of people. From that time on, God would speak to large crowds through His Holy Son. Jesus was then about thirty years old.
At this point, it seems that John should have quit his ministry and told his followers to follow Jesus instead of John. Those who John had baptized would have made excellent disciples of Jesus. Instead a whole series of cults of followers of John descended down to the present day to the detriment of the world. See Chapters 49 and 63.
Revelation 1:8; 22:13.
97. John 1:29-34.
98. Luke 3:21–23; Mark 1:9–11; Matthew 3:13–17; Psalm 2:7; Isaiah 42:1–14; Hebrews 1:1– 6.
The Tempted Jesus
Is Satan a real person? Or is he just our own human thoughts telling us to do evil things? According to the Bible, Satan is a very real entity. Even if we do not believe the Bible, the sad fact remains that every human that has ever lived, including Jesus, has been tempted. It is also evident that the closer a person is to God, the stronger the temptations to the point that many formerly very successful religious persons who led many to the Lord have destroyed their ministries.
Forty is the waiting period throughout the Bible: this includes the flood of Noah, which lasted forty days and nights (Genesis 7:4, 14); Isaac was forty years old when he married Rebekah (Genesis 25:20); Esau was forty when he married Judith (Genesis 26:34); the people mourned and then embalmed the dead after forty days (Genesis 50:2–3); Israel ate manna in the wilderness for forty years (Exodus 16:35; Deuteronomy 8:2–4; Nehemiah 9:21; Psalms 95:8–11; Amos 2 10; 5:25; Acts 13:18); Moses' life was divided into three forty year periods (Acts 7:20–42); Moses spent forty days and nights on the mountain before God spoke to him (Exodus 24:18); Moses spent forty days with God and had no food or water before God wrote the Ten Commandments (Exodus 34:28) then he spent another forty days and nights without food or water to receive them again (Deuteronomy 9:9–11, 18); Moses sent spies into Canaan for forty days (Numbers 13:25); the unfaithful spies were punished for forty years (Numbers 14:33, 34; 32:13; 10:10); when a man sinned, he would receive forty lashes (Deuteronomy 25:3); God made Egypt desolate for forty years (Ezekiel 29:9–16); when the Israelites wanted a king, God gave them Saul for forty years (Acts 13:21); God gave Nineveh forty days to repent (Jonah 3:4); after Jesus came back to life, He spent forty days instructing the apostles until He ascended to heaven; Paul was scourged three times with forty lashes, less one (Acts 11:24).100
Full of the Holy Spirit, Jesus left the Jordan, and the Spirit caused Him to go into the wilderness, where He probably had tended sheep before. He fasted there for forty days99, living with the wild beasts, and the angels ministered unto Him.
At the end of the forty days, Jesus was very hungry. Satan, the adversary and tempter came to Jesus and said, "If you are the Son of God, command these stones to turn into bread."
Jesus answered, "It is written that man does not live by bread alone, but by whatever God decides."101
Then Satan took Him up on a high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory for a short time. Then Satan said, "Worship me, and I will give all of this authority and glory to you that is entrusted to me, and I can give it to whoever I wish."
Jesus answered, "Get away, Satan, for it is written, 'you shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only shall you serve.' "102
At this point, Satan tried to kill Him. He took Him to the holy city, Jerusalem and made Him stand high up on a parapet of the temple. "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here. Let me tell you what is written: It is written that God will command His angels concerning you, to watch over you, and they will take you up in their arms so that your foot will not even touch a stone."103
Jesus replied, "Again it is written that you should not tempt the LORD your God." And the Devil ceased all his temptations and left Jesus for an age. 104
Thus was Jesus tempted more than any other human could resist. All of us have sinned over much lesser temptations and have fallen short of the glory of God.105 Then the adversary left Him alone and the angels came and ministered to Him.10699. Luke 4:1–2; Mark 1:12–13; Matthew 4:1–2.
Paperback by Robert Laing:
Theory - - Squeezing Common Sense Out of Science, Creation, Noah's Ark and Jesus
Another Web Site by Robert Laing: www.intelligentdesigntheory.info
Paperback by author available: Little Thinkers -- Squeezing Common Sense Out of Life's Toughest Questions
This book in paperback: History of Jesus Christ the Human God