Who is John the Baptist?

Overview

Background information about John the Baptist. Including his miraculous birth and his message.

Background

There is a very famous prophet in the old testament of the Bible called Elijah. It was believed that before the messiah would come God would send Elijah to prepare people for the arrival (or the advent) of the messiah.

John's birth

John also had a miraculous birth. His father, Zechariah, was a Priest and it was his turn to enter the Holiest part of the Temple to offer the sacrifice. Whilst he was there an angel appeared and told him that his wife, Elizabeth, was going to have a baby. He was told that his son was to be called John and that he would be Elijah, the forerunner to the messiah. Elizabeth and Zechariah were both quite old now and Zechariah didn't believe what the angel had said. It seems that Zechariah had prayed a long time ago for a child and now when he and his wife were old the prayer was being answered. Because he didn't believe Zechariah was struck dumb until his son was born and named. When they asked Elizabeth the name of her new born child she said "John". Everyone thought this was wrong because children were usually given a family name and so they asked Zechariah. As soon as he wrote the word John he could speak again.

John's message

John was raised in a special way and was dedicated to God. He never drank any alcohol. When the time came for him to begin preaching he dressed in a rough coat of camel hair and lived on food he could pick up for himself (locusts and wild honey). He preached "repent for the kingdom of God is coming". Repent means to turn around and head in the opposite direction.

When Jesus began his own ministry he chose to start it by going to see John the baptist and by having John baptise him. John had taught everyone that soon someone greater than himself was going to come and when John saw Jesus he told everyone that Jesus was the one he had been talking about.