What Message Did He Bring Us?
John spoke of the wrath to come. He preached with intensity, saying, “Don’t depend upon your traditions. Don’t think you are safe because you were born into a certain family or religion!” These were words of warning. In order to help people understand the importance of his message he used dramatic language. He described the judgment of God as an ax, cutting down trees.
“Every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down,” he warned, “and thrown into the fire.”
Also, he used the illustration of threshing grain: “He will clear his threshing floor, gathering the wheat into his barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
The purpose of these warnings was to bring the people to repentance. “The kingdom of heaven is at hand,” he said. “Repent.”
He explained that God wanted to reveal Himself to them in a new and complete way. He pleaded with the people to accept this opportunity to repent and have a true and beautiful relationship with God.
“A greater one will come greater me,” declared John the Baptist. This part of his message was in the form of an announcement. Remember that people knew the prophecies from Abraham, Moses, Isaiah, and others. They were waiting for the fulfillment They were hoping to see the Messiah, the Redeemer. Now what John was saying out there by the river was, “The time has come. You may admire Abraham, and you may call me a prophet, but a greater one is even now in the midst of you!”
It was important to the plan of God for this announcement to be made in order to prepare the people for an event different from any they had ever known. The words of John sounded mysterious indeed. He said, “The One who comes after me was before me. The reason I came was that He might be revealed.” What did this mean? He comes after me but was before me. This is the most important part of the announcement. Could it be that God Himself, who existed before John, would reveal Himself, through the Messiah? For God, and He alone, is able to redeem mankind. Yet, God is Spirit; how shall He be seen visibly by people, that they might truly know Him to be the Redeemer, the Merciful, and Compassionate?
This is what we meant when we said that a special time in history had come. Most of the people did not understand that they were hearing the news all the prophets longed to hear, the announcement that future generations would call the good news for all mankind.
Then came the moment of actual presentation. This was the part of John’s message for which all the rest had prepared. He looked up from his conversation with the people and saw One named Jesus approaching the river.
A voice from heaven was heard, making it plain that this Jesus was the promised Messiah. He was the Redeemer now appearing in the flesh; visible now before the world as the Perfect Sacrifice.
“Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant.” With these words John presented Jesus, the Messiah, to the people there on the river bank, and to everyone in the world who would hear the good news. John then explained that God had told him to confirm this One as the promised revelation, the Redeemer. He was the true Lamb of God. “I have seen and I testify,” John declared.
Many of those who heard the words of John felt the truth in their hearts. Some began to follow Jesus, the Messiah, and ask Him to teach them. They called to their friends in words of gladness: “We have found the Messiah!”
For You To Do
Here are four quotations from the preaching of John the Baptist On the line under each, write the name of the part of his message which the quotation illustrates.
- “The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Repent and be baptized.”
- “Every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down.”
- “The man who comes after me was before me.
- “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”
What truths can you learn for yourself from the messages of John the Baptist? Read this list and write down those that seem important to you personally.
a) God wants His servants to be humble and obedient
b) Religious traditions do not pardon sin.
c) God revealed Himself through the Messiah.
d) The GOOD NEWS is for everyone, including me and my family.