Jesus’ Life and Ministry
John Prepares the Way
SEVENTEEN years have passed since Jesus was a child of 12 questioning the teachers in the temple. It is the spring of the year 29 C.E., and everybody, it seems, is talking about Jesus’ cousin John, who is preaching in all the country around the Jordan River.
John is indeed an impressive man, both in appearance and in speech. His clothing is of camel’s hair, and he wears a leather girdle around his loins. His food is insect locusts and wild honey. And his message? “Repent, for the kingdom of the heavens has drawn near.”
This message excites his listeners. Many realize their need to repent, that is, to change their attitude and to reject their past course of life as undesirable. So from all the territory around the Jordan, and even from Jerusalem, the people come out to John in great numbers, and he baptizes them, dipping them beneath the waters of the Jordan. Why?
John baptizes people in symbol, or acknowledgment, of their heartfelt repentance for sins against God’s Law covenant. Thus when some religious Pharisees and Sadducees come out to the Jordan, John condemns them. “You offspring of vipers,” he says. “Produce fruit that befits repentance.”
Due to all the attention John is receiving, the Pharisees send out priests and Levites to him. They ask: “Who are you? that we may give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?”
John explains: “I am a voice of someone crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make the way of Jehovah straight,’ just as Isaiah the prophet said.” John is preparing the way by getting people in a proper heart condition to accept the Messiah, who will become King. Of this One, John says: “The one coming after me is stronger than I am, whose sandals I am not fit to take off.”
Thus John’s message, “the kingdom of the heavens has drawn near,” serves as a public notification that the ministry of Jehovah’s appointed King, Jesus Christ, is about to begin. John 1:6-8, 15-28; Matthew 3:1-12; Luke 3:1-18; Acts 19:4.
◆ What kind of man is John?
◆ Why does John baptize people?
◆ Why could John say the Kingdom has drawn near?
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