How did john the baptist know?

Updated: Aug 24, 2020

John 1:29-36


It was sooooo nice to be back in John's letter!!


- We began by reading John 1:29-36 and asking “How did John the Baptist know”, .......then we began to investigate and collected scriptural evidence (first person and circumstantial) to fill in our knowledge. Thank you Holy Spirit for guiding us. I pray that our study is documented below in a manner helpful to future study and to those who couldn't join us this morning.................. John 1:29-36: (This event is not written of in any other gospels) "THE NEXT DAY"- this passage starts with these words. As we began, it was important to emphasize that the first 42 verses of the gospel of John is like a prologue in a book, or opening arguments in a courtroom. John the Apostle is writing this section to state that Jesus is God. We looked at some chronology that’s important to the passage, and to remind us where we were, and Investigative FACTS that tell us when John 1:29-36 occurs............ FACT 1 - We will start easy.......John 1:29-36 occurs sequentially after John the Baptist (JB) had fully explained himself to the priests and Levites who were sent to find out who he was. (John 1:19). FACT 2- John 1:29-36 is also a separate event from Matthew 3:5-7, Mark 1:1-8, Luke 3:7-18 and John 1:27 because none of those passages contains any language remotely close to this John 1:29-36 moment. Plus, the obvious separation stated in John 1:29 as "The next day"....leading to Fact 3. FACT 3 - Matthew 3:5-7, Mark 1:1-8, and Luke 3:7-18 document the time when JB was baptizing others, and when he called the Jewish leaders a "brood of vipers". We can not definitively include John 1:19-28 with Matthew 3:5-7, Mark 1:1-8, and Luke 3:7-18 because of the variations in John 1:19-28 content, outside of the one similarity between John 1:27, Matthew 3:11, Mark 1:7, and Luke 3:15-16.

**John the apostle reads JB’s story to us as a narrator of sorts. It’s important for us to realize that John the apostle was probably there, experiencing this first hand. This reflective narrative begins at John 1:19 and continues into John 1:42. FACT 4- The baptism of Jesus occurs after the events of Matthew 3:5-7, Mark 1:1-8, and Luke 3:7-18. This is obvious when you read forward in Matthew 3:11-17, Mark 1:9-11, and Luke 3:18-22.

TIMELINE - At this point we can accurately state this time line -

First - JB is baptizing thousands, and the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism.

Second - JB confronts them and calls them brood of vipers

Third - JB lets them know that he is preparing the way for One Who is coming, that will baptize with The Holy Spirit.

FACT 5- It is worth repeating that John 1:29 gives us a key time stamp! John the apostle tells us that John 1:29-36 occurs the NEXT DAY after the events of John 1:19-28. The events of John 1:19-28 differ from Matthew 3:5-7, Mark 1:1-8, and Luke 3:7-18, because JB is providing us some new content that is not found in Matthew 3:5-7, Mark 1:1-8, and Luke 3:7-18, SUCH AS.................Priest & Levites were sent to question him. This is not seen in the other gospel accounts. FACT 6- in addition, John 1:30 lets us know that JB is reminding his disciples that this Jesus he points out in John 1:29 is who JB was talking about in Matthew 3:11, Mark 1:7, Luke 3:15-16, and John 1:27. Therefore, those events all preceeded John 1:30. It's obvious because one only "reflects" upon something that has already taken place. Sorry to state the obvious, but I use these summaries to teach the youth so these comments are good to have.... FACT 7 - This chronological fact tends to be the hardest to accept, but scripture proves it out. John 1:29-36 happens at least 40 days (possibly 41) after JB baptized Jesus, and right after Jesus went into the wilderness.

Here is how we know that...... FIRST - When we realize that John 1:29-36 is reflection of a past event, it all makes sense. John the apostle is making account of JB’s words. JB began reflecting (or reminding) his disciples in John 1:30, and he continues all the way to John 1:35. When we accept this, the chronology makes complete sense and then the answer to our question “How did JB know?”, literally jumps off the page!! SECOND- JB not only reflects on what he said about Jesus (John 1:30), but JB reflects on his baptism of Jesus and describes for us his experience. (John 1:32 and John 1:34). THEREFORE, the baptism of Jesus already happened and JB reflects on this so that he can now introduce to his disciples The One he baptized as “The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world”. THIRD- IMMEDIATELY after Jesus was baptized by JB, Jesus was transported into the wilderness for 40 days. This is in Mark 1:11-13. Therefore, since John 1:29-42 occurs after the baptism of Jesus, and the wilderness temptation of Jesus happens immediately after the baptism, then John 1:29-36 occurs at least 40 days after Jesus’s baptism.

TIMELINE - Let's get back to the timeline of events, based on our scriptural investigation....

First - JB is baptizing thousands, and the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism. (Matthew 3:5-6, Mark 1:4-5, Luke 3:3-6)

Second - JB confronts them and calls them brood of vipers. (Matthew 3:7-10, Luke 3:7-14)

Third - JB lets them know that he is preparing the way for One Who is coming, that will baptize with The Holy Spirit. (Matthew 3:11, Mark1:7-8, Luke 3:16)

Fourth - JB baptizes Jesus. (Matthew 3:13-17, Mark 1:9-11, and Luke 3:21-22)

Fifth - Jesus is immediately taken into the wilderness for 40 days, by The Holy Spirit. (Mark 1:11-13)

Sixth - JB identifies Jesus to the crowd as "The Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world". (John 1:29)

Seventh - JB reiterates to two disciples (Andrew and most likely John) that Jesus is the Lamb of God! (John 1:36)

**One question is where John 1:19-28 fits into this timeline since it seems to describe an event that stands on its own from all the others. It is very possible that this event separates itself from the accounts we read in the other gospels (Matthew 3:5-7, Mark 1:1-8, and Luke 3:7-18), leaving it open to the possibility that John 1:19-28 also occurs post baptism of Jesus, and wilderness temptation.

- It contains a clue that leads to the probability that John 1:19-28 fits between events 5 and 6 on the timeline. This clue is seen in John 1:26. In all the other gospels JB states that One IS COMING, but now here (in almost every translation, especially the NLT) JB states that He stands among you. The present tense of this time leads us to believe that JB now knows Who it is that will baptize with The Holy Spirit and fire, then the next day (John 1:29) JB sees Jesus and points him out.

SO, with all that, we ask........... John 1:29 & John 1:36- How did he know?? How did John the Baptist know that Jesus would be The lamb of God to take away sin, or a sacrifice for sin??? A. We started by looking at what John the Baptist did know (or might've known), based on evidence in the scriptures:

1. He might've known Jesus would be a king (Luke 1:31-33). Mary knew, so Elizabeth would know. Thus, we can opine that Elizabeth would’ve shared with her son, JB. 2. He might've known Jesus was the son of God (Luke 1:39-43) 3. He probably knew they were cousins. They lived a few days journey apart (Nazareth near Sea of Galilee & Elizabeth lived near Jerusalem for Zechariah to serve in temple), but would’ve seen each other until JB went into the wilderness.

4. It was also mentioned from the scriptures above that JB might've even known Jesus to be the Jewish Messiah, but that was The Messiah that the Jews expected, and not a sacrificial lamb.

**But regardless of all this, the scriptures do NOT say that JB would have known that Jesus was the chosen "lamb of God " or "perfect sacrifice", destined to be a living sacrifice for sin. - This statement “The Lamb of God who will take away the sin of the world” was stunning to the Jews who heard it, but more on that at the next study. B. We looked at John the Baptist's personal experience that may have helped him know that Jesus was the lamb of God, because John the Baptist was absolutely unique in his calling and mission from God:

1. His prayer life was steadfast & consistent (Luke 5:33), and a model to many (Luke 11:1). Amazing that JB’s prayer life was so respected that Jesus’s disciples asked Him to teach prayer, just as JB taught his disciples. - This prayer life of JB is important to know because steadfast communion with God yields you up to His direction and activity. We can easily underestimate the importance of prayer when it comes to being "filled with the knowledge of His will" - Colossians 1:9 2. As a direct effect of prayer.....John the Baptist's life was monopolized by The Lord's activity, and when God lives through us, His mission is unstoppable. - Looking closely at the use of the word "SENT", as it relates to JB in many passages, provides us the knowledge that JB was significantly directed by The Hand of God.

APPLICATION - Are we listening to The Lord Jesus enough in prayer??

- Look at the use of the word "SENT". It is used in JB’s ministry as if he was a powerful puppet for God's glory: Malachi 3:1, Malachi 4:5, Matthew 11:7-10, Mark 1:2, John 1:6-7, John 1:33, John 3:27-28, and Matthew 21:23-27. - All these passages refer to John being "SENT". God speaks through the prophets, Jesus, the gospel writers, and John the Baptist himself. The writings constantly remind us that JB was "SENT" by God, and got his direction from The Lord. By this scriptural evidence, combined with John's reputation in prayer, we can presume that John was filled with the knowledge of God's will and it manifested. C. The Certain Answer- The beauty of the Word of God is that The Lord will answer questions about scripture, in scripture. It appears that the answer to the question, "How did JB know that Jesus was The Lamb of God who will take away the sin of the world?", is found in our base passage -John 1:31-34: - In John 1:31, and repeated in verse 33, JB says "I did not know Him". Our earlier discussion identified what JB most likely knew about Jesus, but here he tells us that he did not know Him. - This is important because we know what JB certainly knew about Jesus. He knew Him as his cousin and most likely as Messiah/King, and Lord. Scriptural research shows us that the one title JB did not know Jesus to be was “The Lamb of God.” Until............the prophecy, given to JB by God, had been fulfilled through the event of Jesus' baptism. We discussed this in detail to understand it better: 1. JB's purpose was to prepare the way in God's people for the forgiveness of sins- Luke 1:76-77, Luke 3:1-3, & Mark 1:4. John 1:31 is such a RICH teaching that we would’ve missed without Spirit led scriptural digging for gold!! - In John 1:31, JB explains his entire purpose for baptizing. JB tells his disciples that his entire reason for being SENT to baptize with water, was to reveal “The Lamb of God” to Israel. JB's baptism held no spiritual power! Read it.......the exact words are right there in the text! JB’s entire ministry purpose was to reveal Jesus to Israel. APPLICATION- If we take account of our current priorities, is life’s purpose aligned to reveal Jesus??? THINK ABOUT THIS - All of JB’s existence was fulfilled in John 1:29 and John 1:36, forty to 41 days after God identified the lamb of God to JB, by way of the baptism of Jesus. ***Yes, God used the baptism of Jesus to simply introduce the messiah to the one (JB) who would introduce Jesus to the world as “the lamb of God who will take away the sin of the world”. Again, this is not our opinion.....it is found directly in the scripture in very plain text.......(John 1:32-34) EMPHASIS on verses 33-34. - JB’s purpose was fulfilled by receiving the revelation of Jesus as the Lamb of God, given by God at the baptism of Jesus. This revelation is explained by JB very clearly in John 1:32-34. Specifically, "He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, THIS IS HE who baptizes with the Holy Spirit." No confusion there at all!!!

- The scriptures don't tell us exactly when God told this to JB, but it appears that it may have happened in the event recorded in Luke 3:2, where The Lord tells us that The Word of God came to John the Baptist while in the wilderness. Shortly after, JB begins his ministry of baptism, which could be further clue that he received all revelation at that moment in Luke 3:2. - Furthermore, in John 1:33, JB tells his disciples that “He who sent me......SAID...” So, the only point in scripture that seems to document this planning session of JB and God is Luke 3:2. - So, as JB is walking around baptizing and fulfilling His God SENT purpose, he also knows that at some point he will baptize the Lamb of God who will baptize people with The Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:11, Mark 1:8, Luke 3:16). Can you imagine the anticipation for this moment in JB’s short life??!! Wow Wow....what joy to see this fulfilled after 30 years!!!!!!! - Seeing God work this way in John gives us all more certainty that God will do the work in us as long as our hearts are available. - Almost as if God said to JB, "I will show you who it is. You will never have to worry about screwing this up." And God then adds to the certainty, by taking it one step further and announcing that this is my son! See Matthew 3:16-17, Mark 1:9-12, Luke 3:21-22, and John 1:32-34.


CONCLUSION- So, the baptism of Jesus was foretold by God, to John the Baptist sometime in advance, so that JB would know that Jesus was The One who would take away or lift sin. JB trusted this Word from God, and we know that for sure because it became the focal point of his proclamation: Matthew 3:11, Mark 1:8, Luke 3:16 So, in review, How did John the Baptist know who the Lamb of God would be? 1. John the Baptist was being directed/controlled/totally occupied by THE ONE in control of all events and circumstances. The Lord, in His perfect time, revealed information to JB that he needed to know. Let this be a powerful lesson to those in ministry for the works of God. 2. JB was told by God that he will baptize The one who will then baptize others with The Holy Spirit. 3. He was told by God that The Spirit will descend on Him, and remain. 4. Also God spoke audibly at that moment and, it appears, Jesus and JB heard it through The Holy Spirit!! Again, see Matthew 3:16-17, Mark 1:9-12, Luke 3:21-22. **It'd be very nice if God would always make things that clear to our thick skulls?? INTERESTING SIDE NOTE: It's often asked, "why did John the Baptist have to baptize Jesus?" This morning’s study makes the clear point that the baptism of Jesus occurred so that The Father could identify the Lamb of God to JB. So, perhap


s the baptism of Jesus was more for John the Baptist than Jesus!!

JULY 17 - We study how the John 1:29 statement would have impacted those within ear shot. But we need to break it up into two statements ("take away sin of the world") AND ("Lamb of God"). We will first begin with the statement "take away the sin of the world" and then the next study will be "the lamb of God". Some passages to look into.... Genesis 22:7-8, Exodus 12:3-7, Numbers 18:17, Isaiah 53:7, 2 Chronicles 29:22-24, Hebrews 9:11-10:14, John 12:32, John 3:14-15, & John 8:24-28


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