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John the Messiah?


“For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands, and bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols.”

“Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”

“And I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.”

“And you will live in the land that I gave to your forefathers; so you will be My people, and I will be your God.” Ezekiel 36:24-28.

“John baptized with water….” Acts 1:5

“…for John baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit….” Acts 1:5“…for John baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit….” Acts 1:5

“I will put My laws upon their heart, And upon their mind I will write them….” Hebrews 10:16

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The Jews thought St John the Baptist might be the Christ.

“And this is the witness of John, when the Jews sent to him priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, ‘Who are you?’ And he confessed, and did not deny, and he confessed, ‘I am not the Christ.’” John 1:19-20

What was there about the behavior of St John the Baptist which caused them to ask him if he were the Christ?

The answer is that John appeared to be fulfilling Old Testament prophecies that they associated with the coming of the Messiah. Now which prophecies did the Jews commonly associate with the coming of the Messiah? On the left column you can see those prophecies and on the right column you can see John’s behavior.
“For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel After those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their minds, And I will write them upon their hearts. And I will be their God, And they shall be My people.” Hebrews 8:10

“Behold, My servant will prosper, He will be high and lifted up, and greatly exalted. Just as many were astonished at you, My people, So His appearance was marred more than any man, And His form more than the sons of men. Thus He will sprinkle many nations, Kings will shut their mouths on account of Him; For what had not been told them they will see, And what they had not heard they will understand.” Isaiah 52:13-15

The Ezekiel 36 passage “…is noteworthy in associating (sprinkling) clean water, cleansing from sin, and the Holy Spirit. It is just these three elements which are associated in the work of John the Baptist.”[1]

The Jews were looking for the Messiah. In St John the Baptist they saw some things that they identified with the messianic prophecies of the Old Testament. They understood from the Old Testament that 1) the Christ would be associated with the Spirit of God, 2) walking in the law of God, 3) being sprinkled by God (a ritual act of purification) and thereby clearly identified as the people of God. From the New Testament passages quoted above we can see that John’s ministry involved all three. Is it any wonder that they gave serious thought to whether this one was the Christ or not?

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[1] Ward, Rowland S., pg. 18.