FROM JUDEA TO GALILEE
THE BAPTIST'S TESTIMONY OF JESUS
During the period of our Lord's retirement in the wilderness the Baptist continued his
ministry, crying repentance to all who would pause to hear, and administering baptism to
such as came duly prepared and asking with right intent. The people generally were
greatly concerned over the identity of John; and as the real import of the voice
upon them, their concern deepened into fear. The ever recurring question was, Who is
this new prophet? Then the Jews, by which expression we may understand the rulers of
the people, sent a delegation of priests and Levites of the Pharisaic party to personally
question him. He answered without evasion, "I am not the Christ," and with equal
decisiveness denied that he was Elias, or more accurately, Elijah, the prophet who, the
rabbis said through a misinterpretation of Malachi's prediction, was to return to earth as
the immediate precursor of the Messiah.
Furthermore, he declared that he was not "that
prophet," by which was meant the Prophet whose coming Moses had foretold,
who was not universally identified in the Jewish mind with the expected Messiah. "Then
said they unto him, Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What
sayest thou of thyself? He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make
straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias."
The Pharisaic envoys then
demanded of him his authority for baptizing; in reply he affirmed that the validity of his
baptisms would be attested by One who even then was amongst them, though they knew
Him not, and averred: "He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose
shoe's latchet I am not worthy to unloose."
John's testimony, that Jesus was the Redeemer of the world, was declared as boldly as
had been his message of the imminent coming of the Lord. "Behold the Lamb of God,
which taketh away the sin of the world," he proclaimed; and, that none might fail to
comprehend his identification of the Christ, he added: "This is he of whom I said, After
me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me. And I knew him
not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with
That the attestation of the ministering presence of the Holy Ghost through the
material appearance "like a dove" was convincing to John is shown by his further
testimony: "And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a
dove, and it abode upon him. 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. And I saw, and
bare record that this is the Son of God."
On the day following that of the utterance last
quoted, John repeated his testimony to two of his disciples, or followers, as Jesus passed,
saying again: "Behold the Lamb of God."