John the Baptist part 1
John the Baptist possessed many distinguishing qualities for which he is Worthy of honor:
First of which was the saying of Jesus Christ
"Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women
there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist"
Archangel Michael as well, who announced John's
birth to Zacharias said about him "Many will rejoice at
his birth. For he will be great in the sight of the
Lord" (Lk 1:14, 15).
For a man to be great in the sight of the
Lord…that is an amazing phrase!!
A man could be great in the sight of people, but
for a man to be great in the sight of the Lord and the
Lord announces his greatness this is definitely
wondrous and amazing …!
John the Baptist was a Prophet. The book
says that when Herod the King wanted to put him to
death, he feared the multitude, because they counted
him as a prophet (Mt14:5), Jesus Christ elevated him
even more and said about him that he is "more than
a prophet" (Mt 11:9).
John the Baptist was a Priest. And when we offer
him incense in the church we say "Peace be to John
the son of Zacharias, priest and son of the priest".
He was also an ascetic. And God blessed his
asceticism (Mt 11:7, 8). It was said about him in the
book of St. Mark the Prophet: "John was clothed with
camel’s hair and with a leather belt around his waist,
and he ate locusts and wild honey" (Mk 1:6).
And was also said about him in the book of Luke
the Prophet that he grew and became strong in spirit,
and was in the deserts till the day of his manifestation
to Israel (Lk 1:80).
And in announcing John's birth to Zacharias it was
also said about him that he will go before the Lord in
the spirit and power of Elijah (Lk 1:17).
It was even said that he is an angel: the Lord
God said about him "this is he of whom it is written:
Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, who
will prepare Your way before You" (Mt 11:10). This
prophecy was also mentioned about him at the
beginning of the book of St. Mark (Mk 1:2), it is a
prophecy quoted from the book of Malachi the
Prophet (Ml 3:1)…so God had prepared and talked
about him ever since the old days.
As God prepared him, it was said that "He will
also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his
mother’s womb" (Lk 1:15) and that is why as a
babe inside his mother's womb when Virgin Mary
went to his mother Elizabeth, that babe leaped in her
womb for joy (Lk 1:44) on feeling the babe in Virgin
Mary's womb, leaped as if to meet Him!!
And in preparing the way before Christ, God
entrusted him with a mission and was foretold about
it by Archangel Gabriel on announcing the birth of
John the Baptist when he said about him that "he will
turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their
God. And that he will 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"
(Lk 1:16, 17).
The father of John the Baptist prophesied -when
he was filled with the Holy Spirit- about this mission
of John the Baptist and said on his birth " And you,
child, will be called the prophet of the Highest; For
you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare His
ways, To give knowledge of salvation to His people By
the remission of their sins" (Lk 1:76, 77).
And with all such great qualities of John the
Baptist, he was meek and self denying as meekness
was very much suitable for his message.
Pride was the first sin the world knew, by the sin
of pride Satan fell (Is 14:13, 14). It was also the first
sin with which man was tempted when the serpent
told Eve "you will be like God" (Gn 3:5).
And therefore the story of salvation commenced
with humbleness in the birth of Jesus Christ whom in
His incarnation "but made Himself of no reputation,
taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the
likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as
a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to
the point of death, even the death of the cross." (Phil
And in humbleness Jesus Christ was born in a
manger at a small village which is Jerusalem, from a
poor mother and lived in the house of a poor man
who is Joseph…
That is why it was appropriate for whoever
will prepare the way before Him to be as
John the Baptist disappeared so that Christ would
become apparent. He denied himself not speaking
about his exalted qualities.
And so, when priests and Levites from Jerusalem
asked him, “Who are you, that we may give an
answer to those who sent us…
St. John didn't speak about any personal attribute
He didn't say about himself that he is a prophet, or
that he is the angel who prepares the way before God,
he didn't ever say about himself that he was filled with
the Holy Spirit from his mother's womb or that an angel
announced his birth and God assigned him with a
mission…he didn't ever speak about the exaltation
which was mentioned about him.
But instead he, with meekness, said about
himself that he was just the voice of one crying in
the wilderness: Make straight the way of the Lord
as the prophet Isaiah said (Jn 1:23).
John the Baptist was indeed a voice crying against
sinners, crying strongly:
He was a voice crying against the sinners and
their leaders of Pharisees and Sadducees.
He said to them "Who warned you to flee from the
wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of
repentance, 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. And even now the ax is laid to the root of the
trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good
fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire" (Mt 3:7-10).
John was also a voice crying against Herod the
Herod wanted to marry his Brother Philip’s wife and
that was not lawful according to the Law of Moses as
mentioned in the book of the Leviticus 18, 20.
And for the power of that king no one dared to
oppose him except John the Baptist who cried at his
face saying: it is not lawful for you…(Mt 14:4) . so
Herod put him in prison and John didn't bother at all
then finally king Herod had John beheaded in prison
and John was joyful as accordingly he obtained not only
the crowns of virginity, Priesthood and prophesy but
also the crown of martyrdom as well.
However, the crying voice of John kept bothering
Herod the king even after he had him beheaded, and
when Jesus Christ and His miracles were afterwards
apparent to people, Herod thought that He was John
the Baptist raised from the dead.
John the Baptist was a voice crying: I'm not
the Christ. And at the same time he called people
to believe in Christ whom he glorified…
He used to say "It is He who, coming after me, is
preferred before me, whose sandal strap I am not
worthy to loose" (Jn 1:27, 30) (Mk 1:7). He was saying
this despite the great fame which surrounded him as
people "went out to him and were baptized by him in
the Jordan, confessing their sins "(Mt 3:5).
He always pointed at Jesus Christ saying "The Lamb
of God who takes away the sin of the world " (Jn 1:29).
And on asking him: "Why then do you baptize if you are
not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” John
answered them, saying, “I baptize with water, but there
stands One among you whom you do not know." "This
is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit" (Jn 1:26, 33).
And when he was baptizing Jesus Christ,
humbleness didn't ever depart from him as the crying
voice said to the Master "I need to be
baptized by You, and are You coming to me" (Mt
3:14), then he said to the Jews "He who sent me to
baptize with water said to me, ‘Upon whom you see
the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is
He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I have
seen and testified that this is the Son of God" (Jn
John disappeared so that Christ would be
apparent and then he would vanish in the
presence of Christ.
John wanted all sights to be focused on Jesus
Christ not to himself, that humbleness of his was
what made him worthy of being the angel who
prepares the way before God…one of the most
beautiful phrases of his in this concern:
"He must increase, but I must decrease"
In explaining that phrase he said: "You
yourselves bear me witness that I said, ‘I am not
the Christ,’ but, ‘I have been sent before Him.’ He
who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend
of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him,
rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice.
Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled" (Jn 3:28, 29).
John the Baptist rejoiced on handing over the bride
(who is the church) to her bridegroom (who is the
Lord God), but he himself then disappeared as his
mission was completed and his joy was fulfilled.
This meek saint then concludes his speech
saying about Christ "He who comes from above is
above all… He who comes from heaven is above all"
After that, John handed over his disciples
to Jesus Christ (Jn 1:35-39).
Then God permitted that this crying voice – as
John completed his service – to proceed and rebuke
Herod the king thus obtaining the crown of
This lesson of humiliation, disappearing so
that others would be apparent, is the lesson
we all learn from that crying voice in the
wilderness, I mean John the Baptist.
It is as well the lesson that we learn from his
humble mother who also wanted to disappear so
that the Virgin would be apparent, she – as elderly
'well advanced in years' – says to the young Virgin
"But why is this granted to me, that the mother of
my Lord should come to me? For indeed, as soon as
the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the
babe leaped in my womb for joy" (Lk 1:43.44).
Indeed – as contemplation on Epiphany – it
would be pleasant for us to learn that lesson:
A spiritual person does not come into
conflict with others in life.
But in amore increased spirituality he makes
them come ahead of himself as Paul the apostle
says "In honor giving preference to one another"
(Ro 12:10). And if that what should it be among
humans when dealing with each other so how much
more would it be for John with the Lord God…
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