He had a miracle birth. Gabriel interrupted a temple service to announce it. Then he made a return trip to tell a teenage girl about Jesus’ birth, saying, “Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age” (Lk. 1:36). John’s birth answered a lifetime of prayer: “Both of them were upright…But Elizabeth was barren and they were both well along in years” (Luke 1:6,7). Yet God opened her womb. And John and Jesus had a Holy Ghost encounter while inside their mothers. Top that!
He had a bizarre diet. He lived as a Nazarite by choice of heaven. His demeanor highlighted his message. He never got up thinking, “I wonder what I’ll have for breakfast.” Imagine what this kind of person would do to religious hypocrisy!
He worked road construction. He leveled the highway (Isaiah 40:4), preparing people for The Way. What a servant God used to break a four-hundred year silence!
He had profound revelation. John was born five months before Jesus, but he said, “A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me” (v. 30), showing his remarkable understanding of Christ’s pre-existence. John also saw the Lamb of God as the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit. Passion and Pentecost form one undeniable whole, saving and empowering. Separating them tampers with the Lordship of Christ.
He had strange struggles. Seeing life from behind prison bars took its toll on the man who swept the country by storm. He knew he was destined to decrease. He didn’t expect it to happen so soon or in the way it did. How could this powerful man doubt?
Similar anxieties haunted his look-alike. The angel had told John’s father that he would go before the Lord “in the spirit and power of Elijah” (Luke 1:17). Doubt and depression can trip up great people. How kind of Jesus to not to rebuke John. He gave His cousin the greatest commendation ever.
John and Jesus were stark contrasts: two very different births—one mother barren, the other without a husband. John’s parents likely died before he launched his ministry. Mary was living during and after the ministry of Jesus, though Joseph had probably died. John and Jesus preached the same message of repentance, though in different regions, Judea and Galilee.
Serious John was thought to be demonized, while Jesus was accused of having too much fun. Both ministries were short-lived, but John’s probably less than a year. His life was taken by Herod, Jesus by Pilate. John had devoted disciples, but he selflessly sent them to Jesus. Jesus called Himself the light, while John prepared people for the light.
He was a forerunner, setting the pace, then leaving the race. Jesus was the Word; John the voice. He was the friend of the bridegroom.The wedding focuses on the bride and groom. John, deeply humble, which also made him bold, was the last of the old, Jesus the first of the new.