Christian History

Interesting Facts about John the Baptist

Interesting Facts about John the Baptist

St. John the Baptist was a preacher and one of the major figures not only in the Christian world but in other religions such as Islam. He was the one who baptized Jesus Christ and heralded His coming. Many scholars believe that Jesus was a disciple of St. John the Baptist, that many of Jesus’ followers were previously followers of St. John.

John the Baptist’s parents were Zacharias and Elizabeth

St. Zacharias (or Zechariah) was a priest and a prophet according to Luke 1:67-79. His wife, St. Elizabeth, was the relative of the Virgin Mary.

According to the Gospel of Luke, Elizabeth was barren due to her age1

While Zacharias was in the temple of the Lord, the angel Gabriel visited him and told him that his wife Elizabeth would bear a son. However, Zacharias did not believe in what Gabriel told him, for he knew he and Elizabeth were very old. Because of Zacharias’ disbelief, Gabriel made him unable to speak until the child’s birth.

The name “John” was given to Elizabeth’s child by an angel sent by God 3

The angel Gabriel said to Zacharias whilst in a temple: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John.”

It is believed that John was born around six months before Jesus was

St. John the Baptist is believed to have been born on June 24 (which is also his feast day, known as the Nativity of St. John the Baptist), six months before Christmas, however, Scripture does not specify the date of his birth.

It is commonly believed that John was the second cousin to Jesus

It is because St. John the Baptist’s mother Elizabeth and Jesus’ mother Mary were cousins, as mentioned in Luke 1:36.

John lived in the desert until the beginning of his ministry

According to Luke 1:80 (King James Version): “And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his shewing unto Israel.”

John Baptized Jewish people

When John the Baptist arrived in the deserts of Judea and preached about a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, crowds came in droves, hoping to be baptized by him. As Matthew 3:6 says, “Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.”

According to the Gospels in the New Testament, John baptised Jesus himself in the river Jordan. Jesus’ baptism then started the beginning of His ministry

This event is mentioned in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Jesus’ baptism by St. John. Almost all Christian denominations believe that this milestone of Jesus’ life as a basis for the baptism, one of the important Christian rites.

Jesus declared that no greater man than John had been born of a woman 4

It seems that Jesus thought highly of St. John the Baptist, and therefore declared, “Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist” (Matthew 11:11). One of the reasons why Jesus called John “great” is that John had the honor of being chosen by God as the herald to the Messiah, who would save the world from its sins.

Herodias

John rebuked the Tetrarch Herod Antipas for stealing another man’s wife, Herodias, who had been married to Herod’s half-brother Philip. For this, Herodias was furious and ordered that John be beheaded.

Mormons also believe that on the 15th May 1829 appeared as a resurrected being to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, and ordained them to the Aaronic Priesthood 6

The Church of Latter-Day Saints claims that John appeared to Smith and Cowdery as a resurrected being, on the banks of Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania. John ordained them to the Aaronic Priesthood, one of the orders of Mormon priesthood.

John is also seen as a Prophet in Islam.

He is one of the 25 prophets mentioned by God in the Quran, and his name there is Yahya (peace be upon him) in Arabic. Sometimes he is referred to as Yahya ibn Zakariya (John, son of Zechariah), as Zechariah is also considered a prophet of Islam.

Islamic tradition states that John was one of the Prophets that Muhammad met on the night of the Mi’raj, his ascension though the seven heavens. It is said that both John the Baptist and Jesus were in the second heaven 7

Muhammad was accompanied by the angel Gabriel into the heavens. The gatekeepers inquired of the angel Gabriel who was with him, and he said it was Muhammad. When the keepers asked again if Muhammad had been given the mission to guide the entirety of mankind to the worship of God. Gabriel said yes, the keepers opened the gate and welcomed him.

The Angel Gabriel appeared to Zacharias whilst in a temple, and told him that Elizabeth would bare a child. Zacharias did not believe what he had been told, and therefore because of his disbelief, the Angel Gabriel made him mute 2

Zacharias was told by the angel Gabriel that Elizabeth would bear a child. Zacharias did not believe what he had been told, and therefore because of his disbelief, the angel made him mute. Therefore, St. John the Baptist was the miraculous son of Zacharias and Elizabeth, considering their advanced age.

Eventually, Elizabeth gave birth to a son. Eight days after the baby was born, it was time to circumcise the child. When people suggested that the boy should be named after his father Elizabeth said, “No! He is to be called John.” When people asked Zacharias what would he like to name his son, he replied: “His name is John.”


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