John the Baptist
At the right time, John the Baptist showed up in the desert of Judea. "Turn your lives back to God!" John preached. "The Kingdom of heaven will come soon!"
Based on Matthew 3:1-2
One person did more than anyone else to prepare the way for Jesus: John the Baptist. According to the gospel of Luke, John and Jesus were relatives. Mary, the mother of Jesus, was the cousin of Elizabeth, the mother of John. Luke wanted to show John was connected to Jesus.
In Luke's gospel, John's father Zachariah received a message from an angel:
Don't be afraid! God has answered your prayer!
Your wife Elizabeth will have a son named John.
Many people will be happy when he is born.
For the Holy Spirit will be with him
even when he is in Elizabeth's womb!
He will turn many people back to God.
He will go before the Lord
in the spirit and power of Elijah!
Based on Luke 1:13-17a
John wore clothes made from camel hair and had a leather pack around his waist. He ate locusts and wild honey. He always preached, "Someone more powerful than I is coming after I leave. I am not worthy to bend down and untie his sandal straps. I baptized you with water, but he will baptize you in God's holy Spirit!"
Based on Mark 1:6-8
Just as Elijah lived in the desert so did John. But more important than where or how he lived, John fulfilled the role people expected Elijah to do: prepare everyone for God's chosen! People believed that since Elijah never died (he was taken into heaven on a fiery chariot), he would return to preach about the Messiah.
I, the Lord, promise to send the prophet Elijah before that great and terrible day comes. He will lead children and parents to love each other more, so that when I come, I won't bring doom to the land.
Malachi 4:5-6 CEV
Isaiah the prophet wrote about John:
"There is a voice crying out in the desert,
'Get the road ready for the Lord!
Straighten the way for him!
Every ditch will be filled in.
Every hill will be leveled.
The winding areas will be straightened
and the rocky roads will be made smooth.
Then everyone will see God's salvation!"
Based on Luke 3:4
Up and down the Jordan River valley, John preached the coming of the Lord. And he baptized people as a sign they turned back to God.
In John's Gospel, the Baptist pointed directly to Jesus:
"Look, everyone! There goes the Lamb of God who will take away the sins of the world. I have seen the God's Spirit with him. I tell you the truth. He is God's Son!"
Based on John 1:29, 34
Afterwards, King Herod, the ruler of Galilee, arrested John and had him killed. About John's death, Jesus said:
"Elijah already came but the leaders did not understand his message and did what they wanted with him. In the same way, the leaders will do what they want with the Son of Man. And he will suffer."
The followers of Jesus understood he was talking to them about John the Baptist.
Based on Matthew 17:12-13