Who is the boy in the manger?
A good man. Preacher. A prophet. God. King of Israel. A Healer. Pastor. A Jew. A liar. A thief. Bbeelzebub. A bride groom. Jesus. He is called many things. But what is true? Who is this man of fame? Why is his life, which happened over 2000 years ago, so important? Did he just come to be a prophet? To tell us about God? Did he just come to heal? To perform miracles? Or was there a greater reason? A reason that affects every person who has ever lived and will ever live?
In our search for answers, we turn to John the Baptist.
If you don’t know John, a quick summary of him is necessary. First, He was born of Elizabeth and Zacharias, who were relatives of Jesus’ Mary and Joseph (Luke 1:5-25). Growing up, he was taught a priestly life and became known as the prophet John the Baptist because of his teachings and baptisms. Isaiah proclaimed the coming of John in Isaiah 40:1-5. God spoke to Isaiah, telling him that God’s people had been punished, and now was the time for tender forgiveness – their sins were pardoned. He told Isaiah, “Listen! It’s the voice of someone shouting, Clear the way through the wilderness for the Lord!” He continued to tell Isaiah that the Lord was coming and that, “Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it together.”
John’s voice was the “voice of someone shouting” for the people to prepare themselves for the glory of the Lord. But John’s message wasn’t of forgiveness – no his message was a warning, one that was very sharp and direct.
Luke 3:2-3 states: “2 In the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the Word of God concerning the attainment through Christ of salvation in the kingdom of God came to John son of Zachariah in the wilderness desert. 3 And he went into all the country round about the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance of hearty amending of their ways, with abhorrence of past wrongdoing unto the forgiveness of sin. (AMP)
Matthew 3:1-2 states: 1 IN THOSE days there appeared John the Baptist, preaching in the Wilderness Desert of Judea 2 And saying, Repent, think differently; change your mind, regretting your sins and changing your conduct, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. (AMP)
Mark 1:4-5 states: 4 John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness desert, preaching a baptism obligating repentance, a change of one’s mind for the better, heartily amending one’s ways, with abhorrence of his past sins, in order to obtain forgiveness of and release from sins. 5 And there kept going out to him continuously all the country of Judea and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, as they were confessing their sins. (AMP)
In a lot less words, God’s word came upon John and he began sharing that word. He taught that the Kingdom of God was near and to prepare themselves for that Kingdom. How?
A meaningful baptism.
It wasn’t just an ordinary baptism, though. There were a couple different parts to it worth taking note of.
First, John taught that the Kingdom of God was coming – just as Isaiah proclaimed in chapter 40, verse 5. The Glory of the Lord was about to appear to the world as the messiah and was going to deliver them from their sins – just as in Isaiah proclaimed in chapter 40, verse 1 & 2. The only problem? The people didn’t believe they needed to be saved! In order to be saved, there had to be some belief in that we need to be saved – a spiritual wanting and yearning for God! (Acts 19:4)
Second, John taught that in order to prepare ourselves for God’s gift to mankind, we needed to confess our sins to others. To make a statement of brokenness. To admit fault. This part is hard! For the leaders in Jerusalem, this was neigh impossible. They thought of themselves as blameless and faultless. They had memorized scriptures, did their sacrifices, and followed the law. In order to inherit God’s gift, we need to admit leading a sinful life! (Matthew 3:6)
Third, John taught that confession of sin couldn’t stop there. We need to be of repentance. Not only acknowledging our past wrongdoings, but turning away from them. Leaving them for things that are greater! The Greek there is μετάνοια (me-tä’-noi-ä), which means a “change in one’s way of life.” This is so much stronger than just admitting you are wrong – it’s actual life change! (Mark 1:4)
Finally, John taught that this was all for the forgiveness of sins – that we are forgiven from those wrongdoings and will inherit God’s promises to us. (Mk. 1:4).
Let me challenge you to search your heart for sins that you have hidden from God, confess of them and seek repentance. The promise for doing that is out of this world!