Now after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God,Mark 1:14(NASB)
John the Baptist was God's appointed forerunner to the Messiah. Isaiah had prophesied of him and identified John as being, "a voice, crying in the wilderness, 'prepare ye the way of the Lord.'" And John came preaching a baptism of repentance to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, for the remission of sins.
Before Christ's ministry started, we discover John calling the nation of Israel to, "repent, for the kingdom of heaven is nigh," - indeed the King of Israel was in their very midst. However, even John did not recognise Jesus as nation's King and Messiah until at His baptism, when the heavens opened and the voice of God declared, "THIS is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased."
The gospels indicate that as soon as John was taken into custody, the ministry of the Lord Jesus began. Jesus continued the prophetic call to Israel to repent saying, "the time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the gospel."
However, the book of Acts sheds additional light on the ministries of John and Jesus, which appear to have had some considerable overlap. Indeed, we read that when choosing a man to replace Judas Iscariot, who betrayed the Lord Jesus, the replacement of Judas had to be a man that had accompanied them, "all the time that Jesus went in and out among them - beginning from the baptism of John."
It appears that Jesus must have been one that followed after John for some time, until that terrible day when he was arrested and taken into custody by the wicked king Herod, before being beheaded... at the whim of Herod's seductive step-daughter.
We have a tiny glimpse into the silent years of Jesus Christ's childhood, His youth, and His carpentry apprentice. We are given a little insight into His birth at Bethlehem and a glimpse into His life in Nazareth, His visit to the temple at the age of 12, and this special preparatory time with John, which preceded Christ's three-and-a-half-year ministry that led to His sacrificial death on the Cross and His glorious Resurrection.
No doubt, John knew all about his cousin's supernatural birth to Mary and Joseph (Jesus' adoptive father) and no doubt he was well-aware of his own miraculous conception to the aged Elizabeth and Zacharias. Indeed, Jesus proclaimed that there was no greater prophet born to woman than John, His unassuming and faithful forerunner.
But Christ, quietly and unassumingly, followed after John and went 'in and out' among those that would one day become His chosen apostles. Jesus humbly walked in the shadow of John's ministry until that day when John was taken into custody.
It was following the removal of the very man that prepared the way of the Lord, that Jesus came into Galilee preaching the gospel of God. It appears to be God's will that Christ did not begin His ministry in earnest until John was removed from the scene... for like each one of us... Jesus had to learn humility and obedience by the things that He suffered - and no doubt, the unjust arrest and cruel execution of His faithful forerunner must have caused our Saviour much heartache.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the wonderful way that Your truth is unfolded and Your Word is fulfilled in holy Scripture. Thank You for the lessons that we can learn from John the Baptist who faithfully fulfilled his calling, despite the cruel persecution he endured. Thank You for the example that Jesus gave us in those early years of His life and ministry, when He quietly waited until the appointed time to begin His work. Help me to follow their good example and be faithful to my calling, and give me the grace to wait for Your perfect timing in my life. This I ask in Jesus' name, AMEN.
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