John the Baptist was an unusual man with a unique role in history that he continues today in pointing people toward Jesus Christ as the savior of mankind, says the Rev. Ron Hankins.
A cousin of Jesus who was born six months before him, John fulfilled his purpose as a herald of the Messiah but then said in John 3:30, “He must increase, but I must decrease,” said Hankins, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church.
Citing Isaiah 40:3 and Malachi 3:1, where John’s role was prophesied, Hankins said he “was a Nazirite, a holy man set aside for a particular purpose.
“He didn’t cut his hair or drink wine,” the pastor said. “He died an unjust death at the request of Herod Antipas’ daughter and wife because he had denounced their marriage as spiritually as well as morally unacceptable. He called them both out on it and Herod’s wife took vengeance.
“John is still pointing and reminding people to redirect our lives in the right direction toward a relationship with God. He is warning that there is a day coming when Christ will return as king.
“Now is the time to repent, get our lives together, give ourselves to Christ and treat our neighbors with love. There is a great correlation between the voice of John the Baptist and the Christians of today.”
Hankins said John’s ministry is detailed in the third chapter of Matthew, Luke 3:1-22, Mark 1:1-11 and John 1:19-34 and 3:22-30. His death is described in Mark 14:1-12.
The Rev. Clyde Brown, pastor of Faith Tabernacle Assembly of God, said the first thing he thinks about relative to John is when, seeing Jesus, he said, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”
“Jesus said there had never been a man born of woman who was greater than John, but the least in Heaven was greater than him,” Brown said. “John was an authentic man of God who didn’t come as many had thought he would. He was eating locusts and wild honey. He was great in the eyes of God.”
The pastor said John “must have had revelations as a young man” that made him unyielding. “He wasn’t there to compromise even with the king,” Brown said.
“He just spoke the truth and that’s what we must do. We’re not here to be people-pleasers.”
David Day, executive director of Teen Challenge of the Permian Basin in Midland, said John the Baptist “was a very peculiar man, but sometimes God chooses peculiar people to do great and mighty things for him and his kingdom.
“He was the forerunner who told that Christ was coming,” Day said. “He was a humble person. He didn’t lift himself up, he lifted up Christ. He bowed down and allowed Jesus to be the lead man.”
Day noted that John, dressed similarly to the prophet Elijah nine centuries earlier, wore clothing made of camels’ hair with a leather belt around his waist. “When he saw Jesus, he said he was not worthy to baptize Jesus or even to tie his sandals,” he said.
“But he went ahead and baptized Jesus and said, ‘Surely, this is the Christ.’ He was a man who stood up for what was right. He had a conviction and stood for it. He said, ‘Turn away from your sins and be baptized.’
“Baptism is a public announcement that we have died to our old sins and that the newness of Christ has come about.”
Asked how he thought John faced execution, Day said, “He was fearless.
“He knew the will of the father and was willing to trust him all the way, even to death. He had a trust in God that no matter what, ‘I will stand for the gospel of Jesus Christ.’”