John the Baptist 1:19 - 34

Saint John assumes everyone is familiar with other gospels' passages regarding John the Baptist, so he does not give a history of this most awesome man. If you would like to read at your leisure, they can be found in Matthew 3:1-17, Mark 1:1-11, and Luke 1:5-25, 3:1-22.

Prior to John the Baptist's day, only coverts to Jewish faith were baptized. Jews presumed they belonged to God already. John the Baptist was essentially saying that all of Israel needed cleansing and that was offensive to the Pharisees.

The Pharisees were an ultra-conservative sect that desired strict observance of God's Law and wanted Roman rulers out of Israel (Palestine).

Sanhedrin was a group of 71 religious leaders from three classes: The Chief Priests (The High Priest and his descendants), Elders - priests and Levites (Levites being special group of consecrated priests), and finally the teachers/lawyers of the Law and Pharisees.

In the Book of John, "Jews" is a general term used to group together the opposition to Jesus Christ and his followers.


John's gospel presents the juxtaposition of God's love and man's rejection - the offer of grace and the warning of judgment.

John the Baptist was a priest by descent, so Jewish leaders needed to reign in this unorthodox behavior of baptisizing Israelites. They figured he was either a false prophet (phony) or the Messiah. So they sent a deputation - group chosen to represent others - to check up on him.

The Deputation Asked 5 Questions

1. (Verse 19) Who are you? Are you the Messiah?
Jews anticipated the promised Messiah for two separate reasons:
A. Micah 5:2 promised a Prince of David, which was interpreted as a leader of Jewish armies that would battle the Roman empire and make Israel once again victorious
B. Transcendental Figure that would bring peace and righteousness throughout the world. This hope caused false prophets to pop up occassionally.
Jews never thought John the Baptist to be a great war leader, so they figured if he claimed to be the Messiah, they could arrest him and the disturbance would be over.

In verse 20, John the Baptist clearly, humbly states, "I am not the Christ."

Jews thought Messiah would either give them power or peace. Never did it occur to them that each person needed Jesus to free themselves from a sin nature. We see later that the first disciples, John and Andrew, followed Jesus because He is the Lamb of God. I follow Him, because I know that without Him, I am a sinner through and through. Ask yourself, why are you looking for Jesus?

2. (Verse 21) Are you Elijah?
Elijah never died. He was taken to Heaven in a whirlwind. Malachi 4:5 prophesied that Elijah would return to Earth to usher in the "Day of the Lord."

Jews assumed a man claiming to have authority or audacity to baptize Jews must at least be the great prophet Elijah.

"I am not."

3. "Are the prophet?"
This question refers to a second prophet that would appear with Elijah.


4. (Verse 22) "Who are you? What do you say about yourself?"
Essentially saying "Who do you think you are baptizing Jews?!!"

In verse 23, John calmly responds, "Stop looking at me. I am merely a voice. My only purpose is to prepare hearts for the coming Lord."

John the Baptist is such an amazing example of humility, of selflessness. Our purpose in this world is similar - through our life's actions, we can open people hearts to the message Jesus has for them. The trick is to take ourselves OUT of it. Live each day for the Glory of Christ and let Him take care of the rest.

5. (Verse 25) "Why do you baptize?"

In verse 26, John's response is basically to say that his baptism is merely a symbol of the cleansing we all require. His baptism in water, is simply an effort to prepare hearts for the real baptism of the Holy Spirit which will actually create a newness of life.

In verse 26, he tells the Deputation that the Messiah is standing among them. Unfortunately, they are so focused on dealing with the "problem" of John the Baptist, that they do not hear him and they do not recognize their Savior.

In verse 27, John the Baptist says he is unworthy of untying the Jesus' shoes. First of all, untying a sandal was a slave's job. Even lower than a student to teacher relationship, John was willing to take such a humble position to show his devotion to the true Messiah. Second of all, John the Baptist was an older cousin of Jesus. Even though John was older and John was a descendant of Priests, he seems to have no problem exalting his Lord to the ultimate place of rule in his life (see also verse 30).

The next day, John the Baptist introduces Jesus to the crowd as the "Lamb of God." In Old Testament ceremonies, the death of a spotless lamb made atonement for sins of the Isrealites because without bloodshed, there is no forgiveness (Hebrews 9:22), because life is in the blood (Leviticus 17:11).

Jesus Christ was perfect, sinless; He was the one human that deserved to go to Heaven. God reconciled the sins of the world by offering as a sacrifice the one human that lived up to His call to be holy.

In Genesis, there is one animal killed for each sin.
In Passover Rite, there is one animal killed for each family.
In Atonement Ceremony, there is one animal killed for all of Isreal.
In Crucifixion, there is one sacrifice for all men.

Do you thank God for his grace to offer a perfect sacrifice for you? Do you thank Jesus for the sacrifice He willingly made for you?

Verses 32 and 33 we see that when God first called John the Baptist to his life's work, He told him He would point out the Messiah with the sign of a dove. We will never know if John the Baptist was surprised to find out that his cousin was the Messiah. Surely, he had heard of the odd occurrances while Jesus was growing up. Surely, he must have heard something of Jesus' righteousness and the story of his birth. Either way, John trusted in his faith in God enough to follow the sign, baptize the Christ and proclaim him the Son of God.

Next: The Week of Disciples John 1:35-51


The Prologue

1:1-5 Presentation of Christ
1:9-11 Rejection of Christ by the Majority
1:12-18 Faith of the Minority

1:6-8 and 15 are parenthetical to the Prologue. They speak of John the Baptist and his role in introducing Christ to the world.

John 1:1-18 is a pretty weighty theological preamble introducing Jesus Christ as the Son of God who "existed since eternity, created all things and became man to reveal God to us in the most majestic, awe-inspiring, gracious light of the glory of God (BSF)."

Why did God become a man? So He could effectively communicate with us. For example, we cannot communicate with ants, but we can watch them. They take the long route to the food every time. But in order to actually help them be more successful, we would need to become an ant. God became a man to make us more successful followers of His Word.

Verses 1-5, 9-14, 16-18
+ Description of Jesus
+ Man's rejection of Jesus
+ Man's reception of Jesus

Christ is the Light and Life of Men (1-5)
vs 1-2 Going back forever, Jesus WAS a part of God, was WITH God (see also John 8:58)

"Word" in the original Greek text was "Logos" which more technically translates "First Cause." Philosophers in John's day used Logos to refer to the "unknown great intelligent reason will and power behind the universe." Jesus always was and always will be. Jesus helped create the world. Jesus was present when God created man in "our image" (Genesis).

"With" implies a co-relationship, a communion, but yet two distinct personalities.

"The Word was God." Jesus and God are equal. (1 John 1:1-3) The deeds and words of Jesus are the deeds and words of God. Jesus said it himself. We cannot pick and choose which of Jesus' words we want to believe, because He is very clear and bold in his proclamations. If you do not believe that he is equal with God, then you have to denounce everything He says.

Vs 3 - all things were created by Him, for Him (see also Colossians 1:16)

Vs 4 talks about light and life. Life being physical, moral, intellectual and eternal. Light being the righteousness from God before the fall of man (when Adam and Eve eat the fruit).

Vs 5a refers to the Old Testament Prophets that tried to bring light to the world.
Vs 5b "The darkness did not comprehend/understand/extinguish it." Can mean a few different things. It could mean that God is infinite and therefore our feable minds are unable to comprehend what He is trying to tell us. It could also mean that no matter what, in the end, evil cannot extinguish good. 1 John 4:4 "If you are in Christ, and Him in you, the light in you is greater than the darkness that may be around you." Believe it. Own it. Choose to live it.

Darkness of Unbelief Through Rejection of Light
Vs 9 tells us that Christ's Light is available to every man.

Vs 10 speaks of man's rebellion against a Savior

Vs 11 - "His own" = Israel. The people who should have recognized Him, because they had been waiting for a Messiah for centuries. This verse could also be applied to Christian nations like America. Kids grow up in a church, but make the chose to refuse Him.

Blessings to Those Who Receive Life Through Faith in Him
Vs 12 - Some immediately believed what John the Baptist had to say and turned to follow Christ. We do not have the option of walking the Earth with Him literally. Instead, we receive the Holy Spirit upon belief.

Vs 13 - Being a child of God is a decision that each of us has to make for ourselves. Our bloodline/biology/ethnicity cannot get us into Heaven. At the time, Jews believed that being born Jewish got them into Heaven. But also, the will of flesh, i.e. my desire alone cannot get me into Heaven. I have to decide to believe in Christ's redemption. The will of man - my mom's desire for me to be a Christian does not make me a Christian. Again, each of us has to decide to make Christ our Savior. Have you made that decision? Phillipians 2:12-13 God is at work in those who believe. Be open to Him.

John's Personal Experience
Verse 14 begins the tale of John's personal experience. In verse 15, we see that John the Baptist introduced John the Apostle to Christ. Verse 16 points out that we all have the opportunity to share in the glory of Christ. Do you know who first showed you Christ? Remember our personal testimony of Christ's entrance into our lives can go along way towards keeping us focused on His glory.

Verse 17 refers to the 10 Commandments. We cannot follow the letter of the Law. Christ saves us by grace (paying for our sins freely), and truth (the heart of the Law).

Christ is, was and always will be. Man is inherently rebellious. Some, however, make the choice to share in Christ's glory.

Next week John 1:19-51


Overview of John

1:1 - 1:18 Prologue (to be discussed in next post)
1:19 - 4:54 Revelation of Faith
5:1 - 12:50 Development of Faith or Rejection
13:1 - 17:26 Maturing Faith of Disciples
18:1 - 21:25 Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ

The book of John is not an exhaustive biography of Jesus Christ. John chooses signs that will guide the reader to believe that Jesus is the Son of God, the Messiah, the "Anointed One," that fulfills all prophecy of the Old Testament, all symbolism of the ceremonies, and the teachings of the Prophets. John's purpose for his book can be found in John 20:31: to believe is to have eternal life. What is your purpose in reading the Bible?

Revelation of Jesus Christ to the World (1:19 - 12:50)
1:19-4:54 Tells of the ministry of John the Baptist
John 2 shows the first rejection of Jesus Christ. By chapter 5, the rejection by the Pharisees has grown to an intense, blatant hatred for Jesus.

John 5 - 12 has the progression of the faith or rejection that is a direct result of the revelation of Jesus Christ. We will read about the progression of the unbelief in the majority and simultaneously, the progression of belief in the minority. We will see how low the unbelievers go to devalue Christ and how high the believers go to proclaim His glory.

Revelation of Jesus Christ to His Disciples (13 - 17:26)
John 13 - 17:26 is a special time between Jesus and His disciples. In John 13, he washes their feet to teach them that the greatest among them is a servant. In 14 - 16, He speaks frankly with them, answers their questions about the future, and tries to prepare them for the coming Holy Spirit.

John 17 concludes with Jesus' prayer for his disciples.

Crucifixion and Resurrection
The crucifixion is the culmination of the darkness throughout the book.

The resurrection is the celebration of Light throughout the book.

John 20:30-31 is the main purpose of the Book of John.
Fact: Jesus Christ is the Son of God
Our Response: Belief
Result: Eternal Life

John 21 shows us the responses of the follwers, their following of Christ, their actions.

Through the study of the Book of John, I pray that Jesus Christ will become as real to you as your right hand.

Next: The Prologue (verses 1-18)

History of the Book of John

Some people have doubts about the Bible's integrity. I do not, so I have never researched it to have a great answer for people's questions. Ever since I was a kid - never went to church, never read the Bible, never understood the Trinity, nothing - but I always believed the Bible to be the true Word of God. When I became a Christian, I justified my naivety like this: God is bigger than man. If He wanted to protect what is written about Him, He can. I believe that through the Holy Spirit, God instructed men exactly what to write and guided men who canonized Scripture. If that explanation does not work for you, please research it. If you have lingering questions regarding the integrity of the Bible, it could get in the way of your relationship with God. "For the person who sincerely loves truth, there will be intuitive recognition of the truth -- even before the truth is proven. (BSF)"

The Book of John was written by the Apostle John, son of Zebedee, not John the Baptist. This fact is sometimes debated because first, some believe John was too stupid to write a book as theologically dense as the Book of John and second, because the author never states his name. Regarding John's supposed stupidity, Jesus promised the Apostles that he would "bring back to minds everything I have said to you (John 14:26, 16:14-15)." John wrote his book many decades after the others; he had time to ponder the depths of Christ's words.

Throughout the book of John, the author only refers to himself as the "disciple whom Jesus loved." He does this out of humility - he is not special, he is on same footing as other disciples. His name is not important. His thoughts are not important. All that matters is Jesus Christ and the account of His three-and-a-half year ministry. John the Baptist had a similar mentality when he openly proclaims, "I am not the Messiah."

An Apostle is defined as someone who lived, ate, prayed, and ministered alongside Jesus Christ. Apostles saw His work, knew His heart, and understood His ways (to the best of a human's ability). John had many special attributes that make him the perfect author of this book.

+ John and Andrew were the first to follow Jesus.
+ Jesus called him to leave his family and business to follow Him (Matthew 4:21-22).
+ John was named one of Jesus's 12 disciples (Matthew 10:1-2).
+ John was only disciple at crucifixion, resurrection, transfiguration, raising of man's daughter, and in the Garden of Gethsemane. Others were at these events, but he was the only one to witness all of them.

Through the four gospels, plus Acts, we see that John is reserved and quiet. He literally says three things in the Book of John (verses 1:38, 13:25 and 21:7). The first could have been Andrew, the second was forced on him by Peter, and the third was to proclaim, "It is the Lord," after His resurrection.

John observed, contemplated, and ultimately loved (John was the one entrusted by Jesus to take care of His mother after His crucifixion). He adored Jesus and appreciated every aspect of his Savior. I often picture him like a puppy licking his Master's face.

John wrote the Book of John which focuses on Christ's humanity, the epistles First, Second and Third John which focus on Christ in us (Holy Spirit), and the Book of Revelation which focuses on the glory of Christ, when every knee shall bow.

John was the final gospel written. Possibly for purpose of refuting attacks of first three gospels. The synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) record the acts and sayings of Jesus. After decades of contemplation, John is able to record what Jesus meant.

I like to think of the four gospels as four different painter's renditions of the same thing. If Picasso, Pollock, Ruth Mayer, and DaVinci were all to paint an apple, each painting would have similarities, but would still be completely different. Together, the four paintings would give you complete picture of an apple. The four gospels do not contradict each other; they complement each other.

Up next: An overview of the Book of John.