John was the forerunner of Christ, announcing Him to the world as the Lamb of God.  We read in John 1:29, “The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”  In these few words, John declared the person and purpose of the Lord Jesus.  I encourage you to read about the birth of John the Baptist and you will see that Elizabeth, John’s mother, was cousin to Mary, Jesus’ mother.  John was six months older that Jesus.

John was very outspoken against Herod the king.  Herod had taken his brother’s wife as his own, and John was vocal in proclaiming the sinfulness of Herod.  We read in Matthew 14:3-4, “For Herod had laid hold on John, and bound him, and put him in prison for Herodias’ sake, his brother Philip’s wife. For John said unto him, It is not lawful for thee to have her.”  Herod imprisoned John for criticizing him.

There was a time when John was in prison that he became discouraged.  We read in Matthew 11:2-3, “Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?”  John certainly did not anticipate spending time in prison.  He was, after all, the one who proclaimed Christ to the world.  The Lord Jesus, in His patience and mercy sent a message of encouragement back to John.  Matthew 11:4-6 says, “Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.”

Because of lack of space, we can’t go into the account of the death of John the Baptist, but I encourage you to read that account in Matthew 14:3-11.  You can also read the account in Mark 6:17-28.  We are not left to wonder what happened to John’s body after his execution.  Matthew 14:12 tells us, “And his disciples came, and took up the body, and buried it, and went and told Jesus.”

It seems later that some believed that Jesus was actually John the Baptist raised from the dead!  How superstitious people can be!  When Herod heard of the miraculous works of the Lord Jesus he said in Mark 6:14, “And king Herod heard of him; (for his name was spread abroad:) and he said, That John the Baptist was risen from the dead, and therefore mighty works do shew forth themselves in him.”  At one point, the Lord Jesus sat with His disciples and questioned them about what others were saying about Him.  We read in Matthew 16:13-14, “When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.”  It seems this saying of John the Baptist being resurrected was catching on among the people.

Was it true?  Was Jesus truly John the Baptist risen from the dead?  Absolutely not!  Let’s continue by reading Matthew 16:15-19, “He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”  Peter, and the other disciples, realized that the Lord Jesus was not John, but that He truly is, “the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  Indeed, Christ is the Son of the living God.  I trust you know Him as your savior.  I will ask you the same question that the Lord asked, “Whom say ye that I am?”  Who is the Lord Jesus to you?  (196.2)