There is much confusion surrounding the ministry of John the Baptist. This is not to say that we shouldn't live a lifestyle of turning away from sin, but our goal should not be to model our ministries after old covenant prophets. Our goal should always be to bring out the victory we have received because of the cross. That being said, John wasn't a baptist nor was Jesus a Pentecostal. Let's take a look at the holy scriptures and learn about the importance of this great prophet and his ministry.
Who was John? According to scripture, John was the son of Zechariah. The angel said, "Fear not, Zechariah; for thy prayer is heard and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John" (Luke1:13). The angel then told Zechariah about John's ministry: "And he shall go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord" (Luke 1:17). Before Christ came, John was sent to prepare the way. He was a prophet with a timely message for his generation.
Malachi prophesied about 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 hearts of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers" (Malachi 4:6). John was the fulfillment of this prophecy. He was to be a voice in the wilderness, preparing the way for Christ to come. It would be accurate to say that his message was for that specific time and season. "As it is written in the Prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare the way of the Lord, make His paths straight" (Malachi 1:1-3).
Jesus recognized John as the messenger, the voice sent before Him. "And His disciples asked Him, saying, why then say the scribes that Elijah must come? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elijah truly shall come and restore all things. But I say unto you, that Elijah is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed (wanted). Likewise shall the Son of man suffer of them. Then the disciples understood that He spake unto them of John the Baptist" (Matthew17:11-13).
Jesus recognized John as the fulfillment of this prophecy spoken by Malachi. When John saw Jesus, he said, "Behold the lamb of God, which taketh away the sins of the world" (John 1:29). John saw Jesus and instantly knew that he was the messiah. Jesus was the very one that John had prophesied about. Once John discovered Jesus as the messiah, he then said "He must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3:30). John wasn't talking about himself, or his personal walk with God. I have often heard this scripture taken out of context. John was talking about his ministry; John's followers were now to follow Christ. John's ministry was to decrease more and more, as Jesus' ministry was to increase.
Even though John was a prophet in the New Testament, he was not under the new covenant, because the new covenant had not yet been established. The New Testament does not necessarily mean "new covenant." There was a transitioning happening from the old to the new. John is not a prophet that we should model after, nor is his ministry continuing today. He was a prophet of the old covenant, with the unique purpose of preaching repentance, to prepare the way for the messiah. Now, the transition has already taking place, through the cross and blood of Christ, from old to new. John was, however, a voice, helping to prepare the way for Christ to come and establish a better covenant.
Listen to what Jesus spoke about John. "Verily I say unto you, amount them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist; notwithstanding he that is lest in the kingdom is greater than he" (Matthew 11:11). Jesus spoke this about John as John was in prison awaiting his execution. Its clear to see that Jesus had great respect for John, and much compassion for him. He was giving honor to John for his ministry and sacrifice. Jesus said that John was a prophet and even more than a prophet (Matthew 11:9). Jesus was saying that John was the greatest born among women. Why? Because he was the greatest of Old Testament Prophets, the only prophet to prophesy about Christ's coming and to live to see the fulfillment of what he prophesied. Yet, The least in the kingdom is greater than John? John did not have Christ within him, and any believer that has Christ abiding in him is greater than John. Why are we greater than John? Because we have a better covenant with better promises (Hebrews 8:6). "For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if you will receive it, this is Elijah, which was for to come" (Matthew 11:12-14). It is clear for us to see that Jesus was talking about John as the one that would come in the spirit and power of Elijah. It is important for us to know that John was an old covenant prophet. John's ministry has been fulfilled is and is no longer continuing today. Jesus came with a greater baptism than John. We have a greater covenant and a greater glory than Moses and Elijah, and even John! (2 Corinthians 3:7-11). We have entered into a new dispensation! The Bible says that the prophet's prophesied about a great grace that would come, and longed for it to come! (1 Peter 1:11). My friends, we have it so much better on this side of the cross!
In His Love,
JESSE SHAMP, author
AMY SHAMP, author