I will raise three questions and answer them to grasp the ministry of John the Baptist.
WHO IS JOHN THE BAPTIST?
Gospel writers refer to John as the one prophet Isaiah was talking about in Isaiah 40:3.
In John 1:6 Gospel writer describes John being sent by God.
Matthew talks about the miraculous birth of John through Angel Gabriel.
Writer of Matthew says He lived in the desert, wore clothes made of camel’s hair, leather belt around his waist, and ate locusts and wild honey.
WHAT IS HIS PURPOSE?
A. To prepare the way for Lord Jesus
He was preaching to repent for sins and get baptized.
He was preparing the people of Israel for the coming kingdom of Lord Jesus.
He was preparing the hearts of people to see the Messiah in Lord Jesus Christ.
He was fulfilling the prophecy of the prophet Isaiah: “Prepare the way for the Lord – straight paths for HIM”
He also challenged the Jewish establishment and confronted the king Herod for his immorality.
Similarities in Lord Jesus and John the Baptist lives:
Both challenged the established religion and authorities and both were killed violently.
B. To witness for the Lord
Summarizing John 1: 19-31: He is not the Christ – He is not worthy to untie the shoe laces of Jesus.
Declares Jesus is the sacrificial lamb who takes away the sins.
He saw Holy Spirit descending on Jesus after he baptized HIM in Jordan.
John declared that Jesus will baptize with Holy Spirit and testified that HE is the Son of God.
John’s main purpose to baptize people is to reveal Jesus to Israel.
HOW IS IT DIFFERENT FROM JESUS BAPTISM?
Apostle Paul was instrumental to establish many churches in the 1st century.
He gave the structure, design and doctrines in the early years of the church.
Apostle Paul understood the role of John and also the baptism given by him.
We have to keep in mind some factors to understand the differences.
There was no established Church because church started after Pentecost.
Christ did not die for the sins yet.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ was not preached yet.
Great commission was not yet given and Holy Spirit was not promised to the believer yet.
Finally John’s baptism was not in the Name of the Son (Jesus Christ).
The only connection between the two baptisms is this that one has to repent for sins before taking baptism.
His main role was to reveal Lord Jesus Christ and declare HIM to be the Son of God.
That was his great privilege as a fore runner to the Lord.
He came in the spirit of Elijah with such boldness and courage to challenge the establishment.
His baptism was insufficient for receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Immersion Baptism given by the disciples of the Lord overrides John’s baptism.