By Pastor Joe Balaan
How do you preach about John the Baptist without making it hurt? I tried for weeks to sugarcoat my message but inside it is still bittersweet.
After the Israelites came back from Babylon, they built the temple and put up the walls of Jerusalem while little revivals were taking place. In Amos 8:11-13 says, “The days are coming,” declares the Sovereign Lord, “when I will send a famine through the land— not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord. People will stagger from sea to sea and wander from north to east, searching for the word of the Lord, but they will not find it. “In that day “the lovely young women and strong young men will faint because of thirst.” From the book of Malachi, God was silent for 400 years. They were thirsty and hungry for the word of God when John the Baptist came. He said, “I am the voice coming from the wilderness...” Even if he was in the dessert, the people came to listen to him. He was a rockstar during his time, as Matthew 11:11 says, “Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”
John the Baptist was the son of Zaccharias the priest and Elizabeth. The cousin of Mary, the mother of Jesus. They were both righteous in the sight of God. God Himself gave him the name John meaning “God has been gracious. “ He was even anointed in his mother’s womb. But he is not great because of these reasons. He is great because of his willingness to obey God.
So how did John the Baptist respond to his calling? First of all, he lived a life that is contrary to the world. He did not begin preaching in the city but in the desert. He did not live a life of luxury even if he could because his father was a priest. He was a picture of a believer who really obeyed the Lord. John the Baptist preached the truth, even if it was painful.
How did John the Baptist prepare the way for Jesus Christ? He lead people to confess their sins. John the Baptist always asked people to repent for their sins, because this is the first step to a relationship with God. He lead people to be baptized. John the Baptist sealed their confession with the waters of Baptism. He lead people so they may bear fruit, because that is the test of true obedience to Him.