The Voice of One Crying, by Patrick Bastien
The Voice of One Crying
‘Behold, I send My messenger,
And he will prepare the way before Me.
And the Lord, whom you seek,
Will suddenly come to His temple,
Even the Messenger of the covenant,
In whom you delight.
Behold, He is coming,’
Says the Lord of hosts.” (Malachi 3:1)
This is a strong announcement from the Lord Himself, regarding His Second Coming.
Over two thousand years ago, there came a man from God whose name was John. He came as a prophet to bear witness of the Light, to announce Jesus’ gospel of repentance to Israel and the world, so they would flee from their sins. To accomplish this mission, God raised up, John the Baptist, this “Holy Man… Preacher… and Testifier,” of Jesus’ gospel to present a message of hope to his generation. God anointed John and gave him tremendous divine power.
Who was John the Baptist?
Like Jesus Christ, John the Baptist was a charismatic religious figure who was able to convince the people to get baptized and repent of their sins. He took his mission to heart, though it was short-lived, because he was only the precursor to Jesus Christ. John the Baptist had a mission of his own with an agenda that was quite different from that of Jesus Christ. John had special qualities such as detailed knowledge of the scriptures allowing him to explain parables and sayings, and the ability to persuade. However, it was extremely difficult, even for him, to convey a religious message to people already deep in their own religious convictions.
John was also related to Jesus, through the family connection of Elizabeth, Zacharias, and Mary. John and Jesus were only six to seven months apart in age. Being so close like that and related to one another, it’s quite likely he spent time with Jesus as a youth growing up, but despite that, John was still not quite sure of the true purpose of Jesus’ coming to Earth. John did finally inquire of Jesus about whether He was in fact, the Elijah to come after the Roman authorities jailed him.
Admittedly, God may not necessarily explain His entire plans to His messengers up front when giving an assignment. The same was true with John. For one, John the Baptist was the forerunner of Jesus, but in the pattern of Elijah (Matthew 11:13-14; John 1:21-25), fulfilling the prophecy of Malachi (Malachi 3:1; Luke 1:11-20). That’s one reason perhaps, why John went to the Jordon River to baptize converts—the Jordon river was the place where Elijah had been taken up into the clouds above, in the sky surrounding the Earth (2 Kings 2:8-18) . Perhaps John believed Elijah’s spirit rested upon him in much the same way as the spirit of Elijah rested on Elisha (2 Kings 2:15) because he knew he was the one crying in the wilderness, preparing the way (John 1:23). Notice how this is confirmed by the prophecy of Isaiah 40:3 and is substantiated further by Matthew 3:3.
John began his ministry in the wilderness next to the Jordan River, teaching repentance (Luke 3:1-2; Mark 1:4). He also came to bear witness that Jesus was the Messiah in combination with his preaching of baptism and repentance. He told the people that the Light is coming. John was the messenger, not the Light. John came as a witness preparing the way for the King! A witness is one who personally sees or observes something that furnishes evidence of proof. John was attesting to the facts or testimony of Jesus, validating Jesus’ position and role!
John’s business as the forerunner was to proclaim the gospel of God’s grace, and Christ, the sacrificial Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Believers were to repent and be baptized for the remission of sin. Repentance prepared the soul for baptism. John came proclaiming, heralding a matter of great and solemn importance to humanity; the subject not of his own making, nor of himself, but of God, from whom he had received his commission from birth (Luke 1:13-19).
As mentioned before, Isaiah 40:3 clearly proves John the Baptist was the person whom the prophet spoke about. John’s purpose was to prepare the way for Jesus’ First Coming. The idea came from the practice of Eastern Monarchs, who whenever they embarked on an expedition, sent harbingers before them to prepare the way for their passage. Israel was that desert country to which John was sent to announce the coming of the Messiah. It was destitute at that time of God’s truths, and of the spirit and practice of piety. John was sent to prepare the way of the Lord, by preaching repentance.
God sent John to bear witness and to testify about Jesus Christ so that all might believe through Him. John was not the Light but came to testify concerning the Light. Jesus came to the Jews first, but His own did not receive Him (John 1:6-11). Therefore, He went to the Gentiles (Acts 1:8).
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to them who believe on His name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12-13)
John the Baptist prepared the way for this Good News (Gospel) Message! He was one of the greatest prophets who ever lived (Luke 7:26-28).