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A Perfect example

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A perfect symbol of humility.

Luke 1:1-25

There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife [was] of the daughters of Aaron, and her name [was] Elisabeth.

6 And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.
7 And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were [now] well stricken in years.
8 And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest's office before God in the order of his course,
9 According to the custom of the priest's office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord.
10 And the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense.
11 And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense.
12 And when Zacharias saw [him], he was troubled, and fear fell upon him.
13 But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.
14 And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb.
16 And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God.
17 And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.
18 And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years.
19 And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings.
20 And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season.
21 And the people waited for Zacharias, and marveled that he tarried so long in the temple.
22 And when he came out, he could not speak unto them: and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple: for he beckoned unto them, and remained speechless.
23 And it came to pass, that, as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house.
24 And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, and hid herself five months, saying,
25 Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he looked on [me], to take away my reproach among men.
Zacharias was a Levite and his wife too, so John was a pure Levite like Moses was. His parent according to the verse six were :"walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless." He was born like Isaac from a barren mother for a divine will. Like Isaac he was born for the prayers and the wish of his father.

When May knew about him, she went to visit his mother Luke 1:41-44

And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost:
42 And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed [art] thou among women, and blessed [is] the fruit of thy womb.
43 And whence [is] this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
44 For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.

What a perfect symbolism in those words. John acknowledged Jesus even though in the womb of his mother.

It seems that Mary remained there until John was born. She had the visit of Gabriel when Elisabeth was in the sixth month and after the visit of Gabriel Luke 1:39

And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Judah;

She went with haste because she wanted to share with her  the joy of the news and also she heard about her pregnancy and since she was very old she knew that something was going on

Luke 1:56

And Mary abode with her about three months, and returned to her own house.

So she stayed until John was born. Luke 1:57-66

Now Elisabeth's full time came that she should be delivered; and she brought forth a son.
58 And her neighbours and her cousins heard how the Lord had shewed great mercy upon her; and they rejoiced with her.
59 And it came to pass, that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; and they called him Zacharias, after the name of his father.
60 And his mother answered and said, Not [so]; but he shall be called John.
61 And they said unto her, There is none of thy kindred that is called by this name.
62 And they made signs to his father, how he would have him called.
63 And he asked for a writing table, and wrote, saying, His name is John. And they marvelled all.
64 And his mouth was opened immediately, and his tongue [loosed], and he spake, and praised God.
65 And fear came on all that dwelt round about them: and all these sayings were noised abroad throughout all the hill country of Judaea.
66 And all they that heard [them] laid [them] up in their hearts, saying, What manner of child shall this be! And the hand of the Lord was with him.
It would be great to think that these two great characters, so tied in their callings and missions, were friends in their childhood, their mothers were so close. It was not so. At least the scriptures and the evidence  are so.

Luke 1:80

And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his shewing unto Israel.

The scriptures are pointing out that John stayed in the deserts till the day of his shewing unto Israel. We have to consider that his parents were very old when he was born, probably they lived very few years before to die. In the meantime Jesus left with His family in Egypt and after that he lived in Nazareth. Probably John lived in one of those community in the wilderness like Qumran. Those communities were living in the wilderness preserving the scriptures and living a live dedicated entirely toward God and since the scripture declares that John waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till ... it seems consequential that he lived in one of those community. The Jews of his time were clearly in apostasy like he would have declared when he begun his mission. We know for sure, having found the findings like the dead seas scrolls, that there were people outside Jerusalem, trying to maintain their purity and the purity of the scriptures. At the end of this period it came the time of his mission.

Luke 3:1-9

NOW in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Ituraea and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene,
2 Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness.
3 And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins;
4 As it is written in the book of the words of Esaias the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
5 Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways [shall be] made smooth;
6 And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.
7 Then said he to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
8 Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to [our] father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.
9 And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
Like the Messiah he begun his mission when he was 30 years old, according to the law of Moses. It should have started about six months before then Jesus.

John 1:19-28

And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou?
20 And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ.
21 And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No.
22 Then said they unto him, Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself?

23 He said, I [am] the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias.
24 And they which were sent were of the Pharisees.
25 And they asked him, and said unto him, Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet?
26 John answered them, saying, I baptize with water: but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not;
27 He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe's latchet I am not worthy to unloose.
28 These things were done in Bethabara beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing.

His mission was well observed, see priests and Levites went to ask questions very important to him. His answers were clear he knew who he was and what was his mission. He gave right the way the measure of his humility:" who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe's latchet I am not worthy to unloose. " It is interesting to note that Jesus showed up just after this declaration.

John 1:29-34

The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.
30 This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me.
31 And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water.
32 And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him.
33 And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.
34 And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.

We have the proof here that John and Jesus didn't know each other. John needed the sign or symbol of the dove to recognize the Messiah. This is important, John the Baptist, like everybody else shouldn't base his testimony on personal relationship but upon the Holy Ghost. Many times personal relationship is deceiving, the testimony of the Holy Ghost is the perfect testimony of God and it is a gift of God. We have to keep on mind that after the Jesus' death the Holy Ghost would have been the leader of the church and the gift for the believer to be reassured and taught about the truth. John the first to open the dispensation of the Holy Ghost should recognize the symbol and follow his promptings.

John during his lifetime showed a special quality that very few people had during the centuries and maybe nobody was so perfect like him, except for the Messiah. His perfect humility.

He had no family to help him during his childhood. He lived in the wilderness almost his whole life. He dressed animals' skins and did eat insects. He was living to prepare his mission. He opened the Messiah's dispensation, but never was proud of it. He declared:" who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe's latchet I am not worthy to unloose. "

When his disciples came to him and told him that the Jesus' disciples were baptizing, it seems that they were jealous for him John 3:22-29

After these things came Jesus and his disciples into the land of Judaea; and there he tarried with them, and baptized.
23 And John also was baptizing in AEnon near to Salim, because there was much water there: and they came, and were baptized.
24 For John was not yet cast into prison.
25 Then there arose a question between [some] of John's disciples and the Jews about purifying.
26 And they came unto John, and said unto him, Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and all [men] come to him.
27 John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven.
28 Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him.
29 He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled.
What great example of humility and love for Jesus!!!

He preached without fear, using clear words. He challenged the power of Herod, declaring his wrong doings. He gave his life. all those things were considered from Jesus when He declared in Matthew 11:7-11

And as they departed, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind?
8 But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft [clothing] are in kings' houses.
9 But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet.
10 For this is [he], of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.
11 Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

Jesus did this declaration, not just because he was his cousin, neither because he had baptized Him, but just because He knew his heart and his perfect devotion to the cause. If the Father had chosen this man to open the greatest dispensation of all, and gave Him the right to baptize His Son, it clearly means that God Himself knew the greatness and purity of his heart. John never expressed a word of regret when his mission was going to finish. If anybody were able to keep his callings and commitment like him, well to magnify our callings it would be very easy. The man who baptized the Christ never was proud of his job and he was well aware about his weakness. Matthew 3:13-14

Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him.
14 But John forbade him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?
He should be a perfect example for us regarding the symbol that God wanted for him to be for us: Perfect humility and total devotion to the work of God. Surely who will have the great opportunity to enter in the kingdom of God, it will have the privilege to thank him for the example. No one else expressed in his calling, Jesus aside, the perfection in his calling. The scripture are not saying what Jesus felt when His disciples gave to Him the news of the John's death, but from His reaction it seems that the pain was great.

Matthew 14:12-13

And his disciples came, and took up the body, and buried it, and went and told Jesus.
13 ¶ When Jesus heard [of it], he departed thence by ship into a desert place apart: and when the people had heard [thereof], they followed him on foot out of the cities.
Anyway even in the death he was feared and respected. Sometimes the same Messiah was mixed up with him. This is the best proof to see how much Herod, his greatest enemy feared him.

When Jesus went to be baptized from Him. He declared a celestial sinphony. John 1:29

The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.

With these words He opened the greatest  dispensation of all ages, "the salvation's dispensation". The dispensation in which the "true" Word of God came down from the heaven like celestial dew. The old Law, a palliative, was perfected from the "Word" of the "Mediator" Jehovah, the "Great Savior", because Jehovah this means. He opened his own dispensation with the act of the perfect obedience and humility:" the Baptism" or in other words :" Father your will be done!" The baptism is a celestial covenant given to mankind to affirm to his God the full repentance, acknowledging Jesus like Savior and accepting His power to purify, trough the washing and His resurrection. Without a baptism the whole symbolism is dead. John had the keys and the authority to baptize. Jesus before to leave His common life should perform it to fulfill  every righteousness. If each one of us could take the example of John, like symbol of perfect humility and devotion to his personal calling, it would be already a great thing, but I believe that he taught something more of that. Every calling, specially the most important, like Bishop, stake president and so on, sometimes are the object of the desire of our human ambition, there is nothing wrong in it, it is written in the scriptures that we could think about them.

It is clear to me that this desire it should be  a desire to serve our fellow man and God, not just to cultivate our human ambitions. Sometimes when the moment to be released arrive, it arrives the sadness too. If this sadness is because we are losing the opportunity to serve, it is OK, but don't worry God in this case will give you another opportunity to CONTINUE TO SERVE, where HE NEED YOU, not WHERE YOU WISH. He  is planning the salvation of mankind no our wishes. If we are sincere in our feelings we will be ready to serve anywhere and anytime, otherwise our sadness will be surely complete. Probably the person will start to compare his job with the new called and stuff like that. If we will in this last way we surely missed the entire point and our service was to please our pride. God never call people to satisfy their pride. The Apostles were looking   the preeminence but Jesus gave them the story of the table and after he explained to them that if you want to serve you should be the first one to serve no to be served. this is the correct principle. John the Baptist was well aware about this principle and he is a symbol for us specially in the words when he foresaw his release. When that moment came he said simply in John 3:30

He must increase, but I [must] decrease.

he couldn't chose better words, no regrets because

He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled.

John  represented the umbilical cord between the Law and the Gospel.
His baptism, as Levite, it was valid for the law in preparation of the Gospel.
Paul rebaptized some for this motive. When Giovanni died, the Gospel was born and with the Atonement it had the its complete maturity.

Matthew 11:13  For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.

I hope that we could perfectly understand his feelings toward the work and toward His Savior.

Even after Jesus began his ministry John continually preached of Christ, reiterating his earlier affirmation:Ye yourselves bear witness that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before Him. He that hath the bride is the bridegroom." He then spoke of himself as the bridegroom's friend and said:" The friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this is my joy therefore is fulfilled.' John 3:28-29. Thus in his great humility he took joy even in merely hearing the voice of Him and was happy just to be His friend. What a humble man was John! How well he knew and accepted his position with respect to Jesus! John knew that the preparation for the Lord had been completed and that is role in this drama would begin to fade as the Savior took the center of the stage.

Interesting insights from the book "A burning light" by Robert J. Matthews

The scriptures do not discuss John's relationship to Herod's edict, but the prophet Joseph Smith did, and his  words enlighten us considerably:

We will commence with John the Baptist. When Herod's edict went forth to destroy the young children, John was about six months older than Jesus, and came under the hellish edict, and Zacharias caused his mother to take him into the mountains, where he was raised on locusts and wild honey. When his father refused to disclose his hiding place, and being the officiating High Priest at the temple that years (he )  was slain by Herod's order, between the porch and the altar, as Jesus said..

This very interesting explanation by the prophet Throws light on an otherwise mysterious passage in Matthew 23:35, Wherein Jesus said

Matthew 23

That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.

Bible commentators have been at a loss to identify the "Zacharias" referred to in Matthew 23:35, but in the light of the Prophet's identification of the man as the father of John the Baptist, the passage takes on considerable historical meaning. Certainly the information given by the prophet Joseph Smith on this matter has a heart touching effect on our appreciation of old Zacharias, who forfeited his life to protect the life of his son. There is an ancient tradition about the death of Zacharias that is similar to the foregoing explanation by the prophet Joseph Smith. This is referred to by Anna Brownell Jameson in her book "The history of our Lord as exemplified in Works of art"

Even though he lived in the wilderness, his preaching to the Jews shows considerable acquaintance with tax collectors, soldiers, Sadducees, Pharisees and the ways of men and things of the day.

When John baptized Jesus a voice cam from Heaven saying "This is my beloved Son" Matthew 3:17. Until this time John had declared that the Messiah WOULD come, but from this moment forward he would declare that the Messiah HAD ALREADY come among them.  Soon After being baptized by John, Jesus went into the wilderness for forty day and "communed with God". Since at the end of the forty day was full of the Holy Ghost is seems clear that He received the Holy Ghost like everyone else and Who better than His personal Father could have given to Him this Holy gift?

So from this moment Jesus came out having be baptized of both of the baptism and having receive not only the Holy Ghost but even the priesthood from His personal Father, Now he could start His mission because he had just fulfilled all the righteousness and receive the Melchisedec priesthood necessary to give the Holy Ghost and lead the Church.

How many among the twelve were first disciples of John the Baptist? We do not, but a statement attributed to Peter might imply that many, if not all, of the twelve had once been John's followers. After telling the disciples about 120 in number of Juda's apostasy and death, Peter indicated that another must be chosen and appointed in Juda's place and be numbered among the 12. Peter continued.

Acts 1

Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us,
Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.

This suggests that there were a number of men among the disciples of Jesus then present who had been together as disciples from the baptism of John on through the years and events up until and including Jesus' ascension

John teaches of the Atonement.

Closely associated with John's identification of Jesus as the Messiah is his declaration that Jesus is the "Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world" John 1:29. In referring to Jesus by this title, John showed that he understood the mission of Jesus as the Redeemer, and as the Great Sacrifice who would shed his blood for the world. Every man sacrificed a lamb, but Jesus was the Lamb of God. It was necessary that John, as a priest of the Aaronic order, understand this important aspect of Jesus' forthcoming atonement.

Towards the end of John's active public ministry, while he was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, we find the following.

John 3

Then there arose a question between some of John's disciples and the Jews about purifying.
And they came unto John, and said unto him, Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and all men come to him.

In this passage there are three related factors: first, the subject of purifying; second, the fact that Jesus baptized; and third, the growing numbers of Jesus' disciples. The latter point is emphasized in the Inspired version. The first two issues are especially closely related. The subject of baptism was evidently involved in the controversy about purifying, and there is a  suggestion that the disciples of John did not fully understand the purpose of the baptism performed by Jesus. So they came to john to ask him about it.

The major Jewish sects of that day seemingly did not practice baptism as an essential rite for themselves ( although the people of the Dead Sea scrolls apparently did) but required it for the cleansing of gentile proselytes to Judaism. Since John and Jesus both required even the Jews to be baptized for the remission of the sins, this may have given risen to the question of purifying as related to baptism.

John the Baptist and John the beloved.

There seems to be a greater affinity between the Baptist and the Beloved Disciple John  than is found between the Baptist and either Matthew, Mark, or Luke. It is from the Gospel of John that we learn the deepest and most intimate things about John the Baptist. Matthew, Mark and Luke tell us that John is great, but it is  from the Gospel of John that we learn why he is great. The Baptist' greatest witness comes to us through John's gospel, which deals with the Baptist's testimony after he had seen the Holy Ghost descend upon Jesus. And it is through John's gospel also that we have the Baptist's testimony to his own disciples. This should not be too surprising, since John the Beloved had been a disciple of John the Baptist and consequently would have had opportunity to be well acquainted with both the man and his written record. Thus it appears that John the Beloved made use of John the Baptist's record in preparing the Gospel of John.

The second instance is found in John 1:19-36 which seems to have many possibilities of being rooted in the written record of John the Baptist. This group of verses even begins with the statement, "and this is the record (i.e. testimony, witness etc.) of John" verse 19 and consists of John the Baptist's testimony of himself and Christ. Of particular note is the Baptist's account of seeing the Holy Ghost descend upon Jesus as a special sign by which  John might identify Jesus as Messiah. (Compare John 1:31-34 with D&C 93:15)

John's arrest.

Possibly John had become a victim of the devices of the Pharisee and somehow had been lured by them into Herod's area and delivered into Herod's custody; then perhaps Jesus, knowing what had happened, left Judea and went into Galilee where the situation was less tense. This idea is strengthened by the Lord's observation to Peter, James and John that the Jews "Have done unto him (John) whatsoever they listed" and  that "likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them" Matthew 17:12-13. Since it is known that the Pharisee were active in the arrest and crucifixion of Jesus, it follows from the Savior's statement that they "likewise" were agents in the arrest and imprisonment of John.

Believers in Herod's household.

Matthew 14:1-2

Matthew 14

At that time Herod the tetrarch heard of the fame of Jesus,
And said unto his servants, This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead; and therefore mighty works do shew forth themselves in him.

Luke 9

Now Herod the tetrarch heard of all that was done by him: and he was perplexed, because that it was said of some, that John was risen from the dead;
And Herod said, John have I beheaded: but who is this, of whom I hear such things? And he desired to see him.

We read that when Herod heard of the fame of Jesus, and supposing him to be John the Baptist risen from the dead, he inquire of his servants concerning it. Why would Herod inquire of his servants? What were they supposed to know about Jesus or John? Luke 8:3
Luke 8
And Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance.

tells us that one of the followers of Jesus was Joanna.... and later in Acts 13:1

Acts 13

Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.

Herod must have known of these people in his own household. Herod and John must have had several face to face contacts, and Herod's servants may have been present on some of these occasions and heard John's testimony. Years later Paul affirmed that while he was prisoner in Rome he gave his message to some of Caesar's palace Philippians 1:12-13 and it is possible that John the Baptist was able to do the same in Herod's palace.
Last Updated on Monday, 17 May 2010 09:52  

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