Multi-Faceted Ministry Of John The Baptizer
Text: Matthew 3:1-17
How do we understand the ministry of John the Baptizer? He had a very brief ministry, but in that short period of time, John maintained a powerful multi-faceted ministry. Let’s take time to understand and appreciate the ministry John had.
1. As Herald of the Messiah
A major function of the Forerunner was to herald the Coming of the Messiah. This was one task that John took great delight in. Without apology, John told the multitudes not to look at him, but to look for the Coming of One who was mightier than he. John’s ministry drew its relevance directly from the Messiahship of Jesus.
As Herald of the Messiah, John also had the notable distinction of being the one who would recognize the Messiah and then to ordain Him for His public ministry (“Baptism of Jesus”).
2. As Preacher of the Kingdom of God
John’s message concerning the Kingdom, hints at the fact that the Messiah was going to establish a Kingdom. The Messiah was also the King of the Jews!
3. As Baptizer of the Repentant
John’s message of comfort and hope drew in people who were sorrowed because of the weight of their sins. His purpose was not to criticize and condemn but to point people to faith in God.
4. As Counselor to Sincere Inquirers
Obviously, there would be people who would come and ask for advice as to how they should live after they came to faith in God. John’s advice may be blunt and straight to the point, but he would and he did give good counsel to those who wanted to walk in the ways of God.
5. As Mentor to Disciples
There were followers who became his disciples. Carefully, John nurtured them and prepared them to believe in Jesus. Some of his more notable disciples were John and Andrew. They became apostles of Jesus! The role of mentoring included being a “teacher”.
6. As Reprover of the False in Heart
John preached fearlessly against the so-called spiritual leaders of Israel. The Pharisees and the Sadducees were the two main religious sects that dominated the land of Israel. It would take a very brave man indeed to openly criticize and challenge the religious leaders the way John did!
FALSE AND VAIN BELIEFS
John was aware of the false beliefs that the Pharisees and Sadducees retained. Let us take a look at John’s word concerning their beliefs.
“And do not think to say to yourselves,
‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For
I say to you that God is able to raise up
children to Abraham from these stones.”
The Jews had great pride in their Abrahamic heritage! They were not entirely wrong when they traced their ancestry all the way back to Abraham. He was singularly blessed indeed.
Isaiah made mention of Abraham a number of times in his writing.
“But you, O Israel, are My servant,
Jacob whom I have chosen,
The descendants of Abraham My friend.”
“Look to Abraham your father,
And to Sarah who bore you;
For I called him alone,
And blessed him and increased him.”
God gave to Abraham a wonderful Covenant that every Jew should find great comfort in! Two aspects of the Covenant may be highlighted at this juncture.
1. The Physical Genealogical Heritage
God did promise that the descendants of Abraham would be blessed! God reiterated His promise to bless the children of Abraham time and again (Cf. Genesis 12:1-3, 7; 13:14-17; 15:1-6; 17:17-22 etc). This aspect of the Abrahamic Covenant was emphasized out of its original proportion!
2. The Spiritual Heritage
This was one aspect that was not high on the consciousness of the average Jew. Over the years, the spiritual and eternal blessings God had promised Abraham diminished in significance, because the emphasis had shifted to the temporal and physical aspect.
John had to address this false and vain belief of the Pharisees and Sadducees. They believed that just because they were the children of Abraham, they must already be greatly blessed! They were wrong in being so presumptuous!
John deflated their ego with his blunt address. God was able to take humble stones from the ground and make children of Abraham out of them! He was not discrediting the worth of physical blessings. The Jews had taken pride in the wrong things! They needed to be reproved so that they might have their spiritual senses awakened.