Why did John the babtist started baptising?

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GiveThanks

God Will Make A Way
Dec 6, 2020
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#1
I don't recall reading before in the old testament about anyone being babtised. How or why did John started baptising? The scripture did not say he received a command or revelation from God to do so.

Since salvation is apart of being born again under the new covenant, why was it being done before the death of Jesus Christ?
 

p_rehbein

Senior Member
Sep 4, 2013
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#2
Baptism, in one form or another, was part of the Jewish way for a long time before John the Baptist. You can "search" the history of baptism to get some info/scriptural references I suppose.
 

p_rehbein

Senior Member
Sep 4, 2013
27,995
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#3
Since salvation is apart of being born again under the new covenant, why was it being done before the death of Jesus Christ?

Do not confuse the "one Baptism" with water baptism. The "one Baptism" spoken of in Scripture is the baptism of the Holy Spirit. That is different from water baptism.

Water baptism serves two purposes: It reveals to the Church that the person baptized has become a child of God. It reveals to the world that the person baptized has become a child of God. It also is the first act of obedience for the new believer, for Jesus told us to be water baptism.

The baptism of the Holy Spirit is a "spiritual" baptism and can not be seen by the human eye, and that is why water baptism serves as a testimony of the persons conversion/salvation.
 
Jan 12, 2019
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#4
I don't recall reading before in the old testament about anyone being babtised. How or why did John started baptising? The scripture did not say he received a command or revelation from God to do so.

Since salvation is apart of being born again under the new covenant, why was it being done before the death of Jesus Christ?
Under the gospel of the kingdom preached to Israel only, water baptism is a requirement for salvation. Israel as a nation was supposed to accept Jesus as their Messiah and be ushered into their promised kingdom where Jesus will rule over them from David's throne in Jerusalem.

Then Israel will become a kingdom of priest, in order to be a priest, every Jew MUST be baptized (Exodus 19:4-6)

Once that happen, then every Jew will be responsible to spread the gospel to every Gentile nation under the Earth. There are a number of OT passages that talk about this prophetic timetable, the most beautiful to me is found in Zechariah 8

3 Thus saith the Lord; I am returned unto Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and Jerusalem shall be called a city of truth; and the mountain of the Lord of hosts the holy mountain.

7 Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Behold, I will save my people from the east country, and from the west country;

8 And I will bring them, and they shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God, in truth and in righteousness.

20 Thus saith the Lord of hosts; It shall yet come to pass, that there shall come people, and the inhabitants of many cities:

21 And the inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, Let us go speedily to pray before the Lord, and to seek the Lord of hosts: I will go also.

22 Yea, many people and strong nations shall come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the Lord.

23 Thus saith the Lord of hosts; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you.
====

But as we can all see by Acts 7, Israel has rejected their King, they even stoned Stephen who was full of the Holy Spirit. When that happened, Jesus saved Saul and revealed to him a mystery, that because of Israel's rejection, all the Gentiles can now be saved without them (Romans 9 to Romans 11).

How does one get saved now? That is thru 1 Cor 15:1-4. Water baptism is no longer required for anything under this mystery grace dispensation.
 
Mar 14, 2011
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#5
John answered that himself

John 1:
29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is He of whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who [k]is preferred before me, for He was before me.’ 31 I did not know Him; but that He should be revealed to Israel, therefore I came baptizing with water.”
32 And John bore witness, saying, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him. 33 I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.”

the same reason moses baptized Arron and his sons in the river jordan, to testify who they were,
 

Nehemiah6

Senior Member
Jul 18, 2017
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#6
The scripture did not say he received a command or revelation from God to do so.
Not everything is explicitly stated in Scripture. So John was given a direct commandment by God to baptize in Israel in order to prepare the Jews for Messiah. But it is not written down. The fact that he did what he did is proof.

What is in fact written down is that he would be the forerunner to prepare the way for Christ. And that is exactly what he fulfilled.
 

throughfaith

Well-known member
Aug 4, 2020
10,468
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#8
Acts 2 .38

38¶Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Its clear here that they had to be baptised for the remission of sins, and to recieve the Holy Spirit . But this is not the plan of salvation today.
 
L

Live4Him

Guest
#9
I don't recall reading before in the old testament about anyone being babtised.
Water baptism is seen, in type, in the Old Testament.

For example, we read:

I Corinthians chapter 10

[1] Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea;
[2] And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea;
[3] And did all eat the same spiritual meat;
[4] And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.

During/after their exodus from Egypt, the Israelites "were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea".

"In the sea" refers to them passing through the parted waters of the Red Sea, and it was symbolic of water baptism.

"In the cloud" refers to the cloud that led them by day in their wilderness journeys, and it was symbolic of Holy Ghost baptism.

The foundational principles of the doctrine of Christ include "the doctrine of baptisms", PLURAL:

Hebrews chapter 6

[1] Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,
[2] Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.

Another place where we see water baptism, in type, in the Old Testament is in the flood during the time of Noah.

In relation to the same, Peter wrote:

I Peter chapter 3

[18] For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:
[19] By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;
[20] Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.
[21] The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:
[22] Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.

How or why did John started baptising? The scripture did not say he received a command or revelation from God to do so.
According to John the Baptist's own testimony, he did receive instruction from God to baptize with water.

We read:

John chapter 1

[19] 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.
[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.
[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.

Not only did God send John the Baptist "to baptize with water" (vs. 33), but John had received revelation that the one "upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him" while being water baptized, "the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost", and this is part of the reason why John "came baptizing with water" (vs. 31).

Since salvation is apart of being born again under the new covenant, why was it being done before the death of Jesus Christ?
John the Baptist was the forerunner of Jesus Christ or the one sent by God to "prepare the way of the Lord", even as had been foretold by the prophet Isaiah.

Isaiah chapter 40

[3] The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

Matthew chapter 3

[1] In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea,
[2] And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
[3] For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.

John chapter 1

[19] 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.

John's baptism was a "baptism of repentance":

Mark chapter 1

[4] John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.

Luke chapter 3

[1] 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.

Acts chapter 13

[24] When John had first preached before his coming the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel.
[25] And as John fulfilled his course, he said, Whom think ye that I am? I am not he. But, behold, there cometh one after me, whose shoes of his feet I am not worthy to loose.

Acts chapter 19

[1] And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples,
[2] He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.
[3] And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism.
[4] Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.
[5] When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
[6] And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.

As we look back at the foundational principles of the doctrine of Christ, we see that "repentance from dead works" comes first:

Hebrews chapter 6

[1] Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,
[2] Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.

THIS is why John's "baptism of repentance" was vital to him fulfilling his calling as the forerunner for Jesus Christ or as the one whose calling was to "prepare the way of the Lord".

I hope that this helps to answer your questions.
 

GiveThanks

God Will Make A Way
Dec 6, 2020
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#10
Then Israel will become a kingdom of priest, in order to be a priest, every Jew MUST be baptized (Exodus 19:4-6)
did you quote this scripture in error? It does not say about baptism.

the same reason moses baptized Arron and his sons in the river jordan, to testify who they were,
in Leviticus 8:6 where it says they were washed in water, is this the same baptism that John did?
 

GiveThanks

God Will Make A Way
Dec 6, 2020
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#11
I hope that this helps to answer your questions.
Yes. Thanks. I was reading Matthew chapter 3 and when i got to about verse 8 these questions occured to me. I thought the people must have found it strange that John was baptising for repentance and it was a new thing for them. But as you have pointed out there in John 1:33 John had gotten instructions to baptise with water.

But since John knew exactly who Jesus was "upon whom thou shalt see the spirit decending," why did he send to ask Jesus this question "art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?" Matthew 10:32
 

JaumeJ

Senior Member
Jul 2, 2011
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#12
John is prophesied to come in the OT.

John knew Jesus-Yeshua even from within the womb.

John knew Him even before he was born it seems.
 
Jan 12, 2019
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#13
did you quote this scripture in error? It does not say about baptism.
My point was that, in order for the entire nation to be priests, all of them must be water baptized.
 

jb

Senior Member
Feb 27, 2010
4,438
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#14
I don't recall reading before in the old testament about anyone being babtised. How or why did John started baptising? The scripture did not say he received a command or revelation from God to do so.

Since salvation is apart of being born again under the new covenant, why was it being done before the death of Jesus Christ?
Couple of short studies for those interested:

Baptism in Water

Baptism in The Spirit
 

Blik

Senior Member
Dec 6, 2016
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#15
Under the gospel of the kingdom preached to Israel only, water baptism is a requirement for salvation.
God is eternal and God is one. There is no old testament God of Israel and a separate new testament God. It is the one true God who gave blood on the altar for atonement of souls in the old testament, making the sacrifice of animals a shadow of Christ. There was no atonement without blood. Lev. 17:11.
 
L

Live4Him

Guest
#16
But since John knew exactly who Jesus was "upon whom thou shalt see the spirit decending," why did he send to ask Jesus this question "art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?" Matthew 10:32
You said Matthew 10:32, but I'm assuming that you meant Matthew 11:3.

John's question was prompted by some things he had heard while in prison.

We read:

Matthew chapter 11

[2] Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples,
[3] And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?
[4] Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see:
[5] The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.
[6] And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.

Luke gives us more insight in relation to exactly what John had heard while in prison.

We read:

Luke chapter 7

[1] Now when he had ended all his sayings in the audience of the people, he entered into Capernaum.
[2] And a certain centurion's servant, who was dear unto him, was sick, and ready to die.
[3] And when he heard of Jesus, he sent unto him the elders of the Jews, beseeching him that he would come and heal his servant.
[4] And when they came to Jesus, they besought him instantly, saying, That he was worthy for whom he should do this:
[5] For he loveth our nation, and he hath built us a synagogue.
[6] Then Jesus went with them. And when he was now not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to him, saying unto him, Lord, trouble not thyself: for I am not worthy that thou shouldest enter under my roof:
[7] Wherefore neither thought I myself worthy to come unto thee: but say in a word, and my servant shall be healed.
[8] For I also am a man set under authority, having under me soldiers, and I say unto one, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.
[9] When Jesus heard these things, he marvelled at him, and turned him about, and said unto the people that followed him, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.
[10] And they that were sent, returning to the house, found the servant whole that had been sick.
[11] And it came to pass the day after, that he went into a city called Nain; and many of his disciples went with him, and much people.
[12] Now when he came nigh to the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow: and much people of the city was with her.
[13] And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not.
[14] And he came and touched the bier: and they that bare him stood still. And he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise.
[15] And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And he delivered him to his mother.
[16] And there came a fear on all: and they glorified God, saying, That a great prophet is risen up among us; and, That God hath visited his people.
[17] And this rumour of him went forth throughout all Judaea, and throughout all the region round about.
[18] And the disciples of John shewed him of all these things.
[19] And John calling unto him two of his disciples sent them to Jesus, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another?
[20] When the men were come unto him, they said, John Baptist hath sent us unto thee, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another?
[21] And in that same hour he cured many of their infirmities and plagues, and of evil spirits; and unto many that were blind he gave sight.
[22] Then Jesus answering said unto them, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached.
[23] And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.

Apparently, while in prison, John heard how Jesus had healed the centurion's servant (vss. 1-10), how he had raised the widow's son from the dead (vss. 11-15), and how the people were saying in relation to Jesus "that a great prophet is risen up among us, and that God has visited his people" (vs. 16). This "rumour", or word, or report of Christ had spread forth throughout all Judaea, and throughout all the region round about (vs. 17), and it had reached the ears of John the Baptist via his disciples (vs. 18) as well.

Why did these reports cause John to ask, "Art thou he that should come? or look we for another?"

I cannot say for certainty, but it's possible that these types of reports of Christ's mercy and grace seemingly didn't match the revelations that John had personally received in relation to Jesus.

For example, John warned the people to repent and bring forth fruits worthy of repentance or to flee the wrath to come because he saw Jesus as one who would hew down anyone who wasn't bringing forth good fruit and would cast them into fire or burn the chaff or the wicked with unquenchable fire:

Matthew chapter 3

[1] In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea,
[2] And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
[3] For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
[4] And the same John had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey.
[5] Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan,
[6] And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.
[7] But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
[8] Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:
[9] And think 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.
[10] And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
[11] I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:
[12] Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.

Granted, John also saw Jesus as "the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world" (John 1:29, 36), so he seemingly had some insight or understanding that Jesus would die for the sins of the people.

He also recognized Jesus as the bridegroom who had the bride (John 3:29), but he seemingly was thrown a bit by the compassionate acts that Jesus had been performing.

Whatever the case truly was with John, here was Jesus' reply to his inquiry:

Matthew chapter 11

[4] Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see:
[5] The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.
[6] And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.

This was the second time that John would hear such reports ("again" - vs. 4) of his compassionate acts of healing, delivering people from evil spirits (Luke 7:21), and raising people from the dead, and Jesus added that the poor were having the gospel preached unto them as well.

Was John possibly close to being offended in Christ because of his compassionate acts because he was expecting the Messiah to be more of a conquering king?

I don't know.

Was John possibly close to being offended in Christ because of his own imprisonment and impending death which may have caused him to momentarily doubt his own testimonies concerning Christ?

Again, I don't know.

Whatever the case truly was, his question was definitely prompted by the reports he was hearing concerning Jesus' ministry.

I'm sorry, but that's about all that I can say with certainty in response to your question.
 
Mar 14, 2011
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#17
in Leviticus 8:6 where it says they were washed in water, is this the same baptism that John did?
in my view yes pretty much. As a witness and testimony to the people. I believe this is also what our baptism is about (water baptism) as a witness and testimony to those who are there
 

posthuman

Senior Member
Jul 31, 2013
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#18
I don't recall reading before in the old testament about anyone being babtised. How or why did John started baptising? The scripture did not say he received a command or revelation from God to do so.

Since salvation is apart of being born again under the new covenant, why was it being done before the death of Jesus Christ?

we have the example of Naaman, in 2 Kings 5 -- actually baptized in the Jordan river where John was baptizing
he's really interesting for a number of reasons; here's some:

  • only person ever healed of leprosy, until Christ came and healed thousands
  • a Gentile who was not a believer but became one after he heard, believed, and was healed
  • no human hand baptized him

we also have in the temple the priests ceremonially purifying themselves with washings, for example before they can make sacrifices they put off their old clothes, bathe in water, and put on the priestly garments

And he shall wash his body with water in a holy place, put on his garments, come out and offer his burnt offering and the burnt offering of the people, and make atonement for himself and for the people.
(Leviticus 16:24)


archaeological remains of the houses of wealthy Jews ((probably priests/pharisees)) often had mikvehs, a kind of bathtub, for such ceremonial washings. so if you were a rich pharisee and you touched something unclean, you might dip yourself in your 'be clean' tub. a common custom ((if you happened to be rich enough to have one)) coming from the Law commanding priests in the temple to do this as part of their duties -- so the idea of baptizing was present in the customs of the people. i remember someone saying once that the big water jars in John 2, that Jesus had filled up and changed to wine, were probably for these ceremonial washings, of the hands or of the whole body.
John doing it out in the dirty Jor-Dan river was different tho. not in a fancy baptismal, not with clean water, not for ritual purity -- for repentance.
 

posthuman

Senior Member
Jul 31, 2013
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#19
But since John knew exactly who Jesus was "upon whom thou shalt see the spirit decending," why did he send to ask Jesus this question "art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?" Matthew 10:32
that is an excellent question :)
most people will tell us John was faithless and doubting and that there's nothing more here to see, move along.


but what if John had by now realized that Jesus had not come in order to sit on an earthly throne and restore an earthly kingdom to Israel - and was asking whether the scriptures were prophesying of two Messiahs to come? one to save the people from their sin and one to save them from their enemies and reign from the throne of David?
the scriptures do prophesy of Christ's two comings, to save and to judge, tho that is a mystery and hadn't really been revealed when He came. everyone was expecting Him to fulfill both things at the same time, His priesthood and His Kingship. we even have people who think today that Jesus wanted to be King and tried but failed because of the unbelief of the people that He was hiding Himself from. but this was not His intent; He came to offer Himself a sacrifice for our sin.


so maybe by this point John has figured out that the Messiah has two advents, and he is asking Jesus if it is the same Messiah who comes both times - i.e. is it you, Jesus, who will rise and return? - or whether the scripture that prophesies of the Messiah destroying all the enemies of Israel gathered against her, would be fulfilled in one still to come.

i love how Jesus is like, look, the lame walk and the blind see, John: you know the answer to that already.
:love:
 

posthuman

Senior Member
Jul 31, 2013
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#20
But since John knew exactly who Jesus was "upon whom thou shalt see the spirit decending," why did he send to ask Jesus this question "art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?" Matthew 10:32
you had the wrong verse there -- it's Matthew 11:2-3
((for anyone reading along and trying to look it up))


most people will tell us John was falling away from faith when he asks Jesus this. that he was wavering in his belief. then they preach a sermon about how we'd better keep believing, or else! and take some comfort because even John the Baptist had doubts.

i am sure this is wrong.

immediately after sending an answer to John, Jesus spends all of Matthew 11:7-19 saying extraordinary things about him. that's pretty weird if John has just lost his salvation because of unbelief and is needing to be called back to faith.

i think the problem is that we tend to look at a lot of people in the Bible saying strange things as though they are idiots. like they are faithless and ignorant and can't see the miracles right in front of them, and don't know the OT prophesies. but John is not an idiot - John knows the scripture and John knows exactly who Jesus is, the Son of God, the Lamb who takes away the sins of the world. John doesn't lack faith and John doesn't lack understanding: John is sitting in jail, knowing he is going to be killed, and John knows that Christ has come to die as well, and John knows why the Messiah has to suffer and be handed over to death. John knows that Christ will baptize with the Holy Spirit, and John knows that he himself was sent to prepare the way and that his time and purpose are passing away, that he must decrease.

look at how Jesus answers John -- John asks is there another we should look for? and Jesus says the lame walk, the blind see, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised and the poor are given the gospel. how does that answer John's yes-or-no question? Jesus knows that John is asking a deeper question and John knows that lepers being cleansed answers it.

when were lepers ever cleansed before Jesus? never! but once: Naaman, the Gentile. and if we go read about Naaman, we see that he never saw Elijah. so we have an uncircumcised man who doesn't get to see the man of God he'd travelled so far to find, being saved from certain death because he believes what he has heard. Naaman is offended because Elijah won't see him - and Jesus says blessed is he who is not offended by Me! and we have Jesus ushering in a kingdom that cannot be seen, healing lepers by the hundreds everywhere He goes, preaching the gospel to Samaritan non-Jews, saving all of us, who never got to see Him, and yet believe.

by answering this way is Jesus telling John to stop lacking faith or is Jesus revealing the mystery of the kingdom to John?
does God reveal the mysteries of the kingdom to unbelievers?
why is Jesus saying no one born of woman is greater than John, more than a prophet, greater than all the prophets, if John has just demonstrated that he doesn't believe?