John was a major figure as portrayed by the Jewish historian Josephus, in writing his contemporary history of the Jews for the Romans.
There is much more about him in Josephus than about Jesus. But there are also the two passages that refer to Jesus in Josephus.
One of those tells of the fact that James who was killed around AD 62 was the brother of Jesus, called the Christ. In the gospels the emphasis is the other way round.
Jesus is the central focus, John has quite a major part and is said to be the cousin of Jesus by the story told at the start of Luke's gospel.
John is considered a true prophet of God, initiates baptism, which is very important later in Christian practice, but is not recorded as doing any "wonders" of healing or other kinds, as Jesus is.
The bridge between the old and new is John the Baptist. He is usually called the "last of the Old Testament prophets" .
But he was also the first prophet among the Jews for 400 years! And we have to look in the New Testament to learn of his adventures, because the Old Testament writings were completed 400 years before John appeared.
He does have a place in the Old Testament, however, and a very important place. He was the latter day "Elijah" whom Malachi predicted would come (Mal 4:5; Mtt 11:12-15; Mtt 17:9-13; Lke 1:17; ).
He was the "voice crying in the wilderness" (Mal 3:1; Isa 40:3; Mrk 1:1-8).
Descendant of Levi and Aaron, son of Zacharias the priest. Like Abraham and Sarah, Zacharias and Elizabeth were elderly and childless when an angel of the Lord promised that John would be born to them. (Lke 1:5-25,41,57-80).
The "Elijah" who was to come (Mal 4:5; Mtt 11:12-15; Mtt 17:9-13; Lke 1:17; ). Not Elijah reincarnated or resurrected (Jhn 1:19-23 note verse 21) but Elijah’s antitype who came in the same spirit and power.
Like Samson, John was under a lifetime vow of abstinence from all strong drink (Lke 1:15; Jdg 13:3-7). Note also his food and clothing (Mtt 3:4; 2Kg 1:8)
Preached and practised "a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins" (Mrk 1:4) -as is Christ’s baptism (Acts 2:38). However, those baptised by John had to be later also baptised into Christ (Acts 19:1-7).
He was called upon to baptise God’s Son (Mtt 3:13-17).
Bore testimony to Jesus as the Christ (Jhn 1:6-9,15-37).
Beheaded by Herod Antipas (Herod the tetrarch) because of a foolish carte blanche oath Herod swore to Salome his dancing daughter (Mtt 14:1-13; Mrk 6:14-29).
A revivalist who had the courage to "tell it like it is" (Mtt 3:1-12). John’s fiery preaching turned many sinners to righteousness and made "a people prepared for the Lord" (Lke 1:16-17).
His preaching was "the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ" (Mrk 1:1-8).
John the Baptist is a story of courage and conviction seen through the life of one of God's greatest prophets who gave everything to prepare the way for the Lord. It begins with the blessing John's birth was to his aged parents. John grows in strength and integrity as he stands against political and spiritual adversity to preach the coming of the Lord. Finally, John beholds and baptizes Jesus, the Lamb of God.
The book of Acts portrays the disciples of John as eventually merging into the followers of Jesus (Acts 18:24–19:6), a development not reported by the Gospels except for the early case of Andrew, Simon Peter's brother (John 1:35–42).
That was really good. I got a lot of of that.
Can you expand just a little more on what it meant to the Jews that John was sent to prepare the way? I think John was in the priestly lineage. The High priest of the day wasn't going to acknowledge Jesus. There was that rather cyptic remark from Jesus, "Suffer it to be so now, to fulfill all righteousness." (paraphased). I'm not being legalistic, I'm just trying to tie it together in my head. It's fine to just accept, 'because the Bible says so', but I think a lot of the 'richness' of scripture is lost to our 'Western cuture & mindsets. I read about that whole interaction between John & Jesus & think...wow...there must be a lot we don't understand between those words! Thanks for indulging my biblical curiosity!
Your right that our western culture misses out on a lot of understanding because we are not looking at the subject in its contest of the culture. Just like in the Bride of Christ group, many of these things that we are reading make since when we see them in their context. I have to do a lot more research on this subject myself. I am hoping for some input from others. I have a friend who is a Messianic Jew and I will see what he says about John.
Thankyou. I didn't know we were going to have 2 discussions going on John, but that's okay, cause i am really interested to know what insight a Messianic Jew would have on the subject.(And yourself also, since you're the one the Lord brought to my mind when I was reading it.) And, of corse anyone else who loves searching out the treasures of the Word!
Did you check out Lt link he left? I do not want you to feel you haven't got your question answered. I also want to give others time to contribute. I have learned alot already. So lets give it some more time to make sure you get your questions fully answered, some one might have picked up more information on the subject.
Yes, I checked out the link. I found it extremely helpful & wrote what I gathered on the other John discussion. (I don't know why I did! Ha, ha!)
O.K. We'll give it time. I'm still thinking there's more there.
There is alot of info at the link below. I do not align with some of its teaching (imagine that :-), but see some of the content as useful to responding to your question of expanding our search to understand better who John the Baptist is.
The article is by Wayne Jackson (deceased) of The Christian Courier monthly newspaper.
There's a lot to meditate & 'chew on' there.
I was thinking about the picture above when i read this verse in church this morning:
"For God, who said, "Light shall shine out of the darkness," is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of thr glory of God in the face of Christ!