Rev.Angus Stewart, pastor of Covenant PRC in Ballymena, N.Ireland, begins a series on John the Baptist.
Consider the greatness of John the Baptist! First, John the Baptist is the only prophet specifically predicted in older Scriptures. He was prophesied by two prophets: Isaiah (some 700 years before) and Malachi (some 400 years before). He was predicted in three passages. In Isaiah 40:3-5, he is the one whom God calls “him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord.” In Malachi 3:1, he is the one whom Christ calls “my messenger,” who “shall prepare the way before me.” In Malachi 4:5-6, he is called “Elijah the prophet.”
Second, John the Baptist is a clasp between the OT and NT Scriptures. What are the last inspired words of the last OT book, as arranged in our Bibles? A prophecy of John the Baptist! “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse” (Mal. 4:5-6). How do the gospels, the first four books of the New Testament, begin? With John the Baptist! Three of them have John in their first chapter (Mark, Luke and John) and one of them has John in its third chapter (Matthew). Thus John the Baptist is at the very end of the Old Testament and at the start of the New Testament as a sort of clasp between them.
Third, to John alone, the son of Zacharias and Elisabeth, was given the honourable appellation “the Baptist.” We do not read of “Abraham the circumciser” or “Moses the passover-introducer,” but the Bible does speak of “John the Baptist.” There is a clear connection between John’s baptism and Christian baptism. He is forever connected to the first of the two NT sacraments, for he is John the Baptist.
Fourth, John’s greatness is also indicated by what Christ Himself spoke of him. The Lord called John “a burning and a shining light” (John 5:35) and “more than a prophet” (Matt. 11:9). Indeed, Jesus said, “Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist” (Matt. 11:11). This is high praise from the incarnate Son of God!
Fifth, John the Baptist is the first martyr recorded in the NT Scriptures. John was beheaded for his testimony to the truth before Stephen was stoned (Acts 7:58-60) or James, the apostle and brother of John, was killed by the sword (Acts 12:2). Later, others were martyred, such as Peter, Paul and John, although the manner of their martyrdoms is not specifically recorded in the Word of God. But of them all, John was the first to seal his testimony with his blood, the blood issuing from his neck. Only then was the (physical) voice of him who cried in the wilderness silenced.
Sixth, John’s greatness lies in his testimony to the Messiah, in John’s position in the history of redemption. John declared that he was not worthy to stoop to loose the latchet of Christ’s sandals (Mark 1:7). John proclaimed, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). John’s role was that of a witness to point people to “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29, 36). Rev. A.Stewart
- Volume: 14
- Issue: 16
Rev. Angust Stewart (Wife: Mary)
Ordained - 2001
Pastorates: Covenant Protestant Reformed Church of Ballymena, Northern Ireland - 2001Website: www.cprf.co.uk/
Address7 Lislunnan Road
State or ProvinceCo.Antrim
Zip CodeBT42 3NR
Telephone(01144) 28 25 891851