I’m sure at one point in our walks of faith, we have contemplated on whether or not we are “good Christians.” Most of you probably consider yourselves “good Christians” right now, based on what you’re doing with your life. You go to church every Sunday, you’re a morally good person, maybe you’re on the worship team, your caption on Instagram is a Bible verse, or maybe it's because you’re reading a Christian blog right now, when you could be doing something else? On the other hand, maybe you’ve never felt like you belonged in that “good Christian” title club because you’ve never really been curious about Christ until now, or you feel like you’ve sinned too much for other people to even consider you a man or woman of Christ. But have you ever really thought about what being a good Christian really means? I mean, have you really, deeply thought about it? If so, then keep reading. If not, definitely keep reading.
One iconic figure in the Bible is John the Baptist. Actually, before reading about him and learning about him in the Matthew Bible Study Book 1 class (shameless plug: Sundays at 1:30pm), I thought that he was just the person who baptized Jesus. That was it. I thought that his whole life’s purpose was to go into the river with Jesus and do some baptizing... but I was so wrong. If there was ever anyone in the Bible that would fit the label of "good Christian," it would definitely be John. Anyway, here’s what we need to learn (10 things) from John the Baptist:
1. He’s related to Jesus. (Luke 1:36)
Their moms are related, basically.
2. He’s about 6 months older than Jesus. (Luke 1:26)
This fact becomes important later on.
3. He was a hardcore introvert. (Matthew 11:18)
He was so introverted that people thought that he was possessed by a demon. In reality, he just didn’t like to party and socialize and would rather sit in the desert eating locusts (ew) and honey.
4. He was a great speaker. (John 10:41)
(FYI: John the Apostle who wrote the book John and John the Baptist are not the same Johns.)
Remember when Howard talked about spiritual gifts*? I think John had the gift of evangelism (messenger of good news/preacher) because people would gravitate toward him whenever he’d preach. Plus, he was infused with the Holy Spirit, so everything that came out of his mouth came straight from God. So even though he was a hardcore loner, he would draw crowds of people and let them know that Jesus was coming.
5. He fulfilled a prophecy! (Isaiah 40:3, Malachi 3:1)
In a nutshell, both prophets Isaiah and Malachi said that someone would prepare the way for the Jehovah (another name for God, aka Jesus) in the wilderness (Isaiah 40:3, Malachi 3:1). That someone was John the Baptist, and he fulfilled this prophecy with proof from so many verses in the Bible (Matt. 3:3; Mark. 1:2-3; Luke. 3:4-6; John. 1:23). Here’s where it gets interesting, so hang in there and keep reading.
6. He was the first to speak God’s voice after 400 years of silence. (Malachi 4:5-6)
If you notice in the Bible, there’s a pretty weird transition from the Old Testament to the New Testament. That’s because God was silent for 400 years, meaning there were no new prophets, there were no miracles, etc. because the Jews weren’t honoring God. Those 400 years were really tough because the Jews were starting to feel like they’d been forgotten and betrayed by God. But as I said from the previous point, John fulfilled prophecies in Isaiah and Malachi by preaching about the coming of the Messiah.
7. He baptized so many people and, of course, he baptized Jesus. (Luke 3:16)
One of the things he drilled into people was that they needed to repent from their sins and live a new life (Famous saying, “Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand”), so this is why he baptized people. Baptism is a public display of surrendering your life to Christ. It symbolizes the cleansing of your sins and your obedience to God.
So why did Jesus need to be baptized? John the Baptist says, “The Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world,” (John 1:29), meaning that Jesus’ baptism was a demonstration that he was in fact the promised Messiah. Jesus, of whom is without sin, took up all of our sins for us.
8. His whole life’s purpose was to prepare the coming of Christ. (Matt. 3)
You’re probably thinking, “Wait, that’s it??” But this is such a huge purpose because if you think about it, those 400 years of silence compared to eternity is nothing! This whole time the Jews were probably thinking that they were screwed, but God’s plan has always been for His people and He provides our salvation! For eternity!!
9. He was imprisoned. (Matt. 14:3)
Ok, so remember Herod the Great, the King who decided it was cool to slaughter all the infants in all of Bethlehem because he was scared about Jesus taking over? Well, he had a son named Herod Antipas. To make the story short, Herod Antipas falls in love with his half-brother’s wife and takes her for his own. So, since John the Baptist is against sin, he wasn’t too keen on Herod Antipas’ relationship. The wife did not like that, so she wanted John the Baptist to be beheaded. But Herod Antipas liked John, so he sent him to prison instead.
10. He was beheaded the same year Jesus was crucified. (Matt. 14:10)
The wife was still super salty at this point, so she ended up using her daughter (from a previous marriage) as a ploy to get John the Baptist killed. Apparently, she got her daughter to do some really provocative dancing for Herod’s birthday (ew) and he liked it (ew). He liked it so much that he offered to give her anything that she wanted. So she talked to her mom and her mom requested for John’s head on a platter. A cool parallel to note is that John the Baptist and Jesus were both born and both died in the same year.
I’ve just walked you through John the Baptist’s life, and you’re probably wondering how his life relates to defining a good Christian. Well, if you've been paying attention, you'll know that for all of his life, John the Baptist was completely surrendered to the duty God entrusted to him: to usher in the Kingdom of Heaven and to devote himself to Jesus and His ministry. Since birth, John the Baptist was destined to prepare and proclaim the coming of Christ to God’s people. Up until his death, John the Baptist fulfilled his calling by faithfully serving under Christ’s authority, and he remains as one of the greatest examples in the Bible of whom we should strive to be.
Now I understand that not all of us are going to be John the Baptists, proclaiming the Gospel from the street corner while snacking on bizarre foods and smelling of sweat and wool. I understand that we are all at different points in our journey with Christ, and sometimes, it's hard to see myself in a place I want to be at too. However, I think the important thing to remember is that John the Baptist pursued his calling with impeccable obedience, understanding that God had provided the greatest sacrifice of all, which ultimately frees humanity from every bond of sin. Understanding that notion and living day to day, obedient to His Word, is what He desires. Trust me, this is the hardest part of Christianity, but once you get there, it's super easy because God takes care of the rest.
1. Someone who eagerly follows God despite their faults and despite whatever life throws at them.
2. Someone who is so desperately in love with Christ, that s/he willingly goes out of their comfort zone to lead people to the beauty of the Cross.
3. Someone who constantly remembers that our sole purpose in this world is to push and promote and fight for the Kingdom of Heaven to bring praise and glory to God.