The Story of John the Baptist:
His Birth, His Life, and His Death
( This adaptation is taken from the
New Testament of The Holy Bible. )
compiled by Melineze Logan Hite
THERE was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia. His wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth.
They were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.
They had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years.
It came to pass, that while he executed the priest's office before God in the order of his course, according to the custom of the priest's office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord.
The whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense.
There appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense.
When Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him.
The angel said unto him, "Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard. Thy wife, Elisabeth, shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. Thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth.
He shall be great in the sight of the Lord and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb. Many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. He shall go before Him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."
Zacharias said unto the angel, "Whereby shall I know this? I am an old man, and my wife is well stricken in years."
The angel answered him, "I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God, and I am sent to speak unto thee and to shew thee these glad tidings. Behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season."
The people waited for Zacharias and marvelled that he tarried so long in the temple.
When he came out, he could not speak unto them. They perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple, for he beckoned unto them and remained speechless.
It came to pass, that, as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house.
After those days, his wife, Elisabeth, conceived, and hid herself five months, saying,
"Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men."
Elisabeth, hath conceived a son in her old age. Now this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.
For with God nothing shall be impossible.
Elizabeth's cousin from Nazareth, Mary, arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda and entered into the house of Zacharias and saluted Elisabeth. It came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb, and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost. Elizabeth spake out with a loud voice unto Mary who had also conceived a son in her womb, by the Holy Spirit, "Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. Whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? Lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. Blessed is she that believed. For there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord."
Mary said, "My soul doth magnify the Lord,
and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour."
Mary abode with her about three months and returned to her own house.
Now Elisabeth's full time came that she should be delivered, and she brought forth a son.
Her neighbours and her cousins heard how the Lord had shewed great mercy upon her, and they rejoiced with her.
It came to pass, that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they called him Zacharias, after the name of his father.
His mother answered and said, "Not so, but he shall be called John."
They said unto her, "There is none of thy kindred that is called by this name." They made signs to his father, how he would have him called.
Zacharias beckoned for a writing table and wrote saying, "His name is John." They marvelled all.
His mouth was opened immediately, and his tongue loosed. Zacharias spake and praised God.
Fear came on all that dwelt round about them, and all these sayings were noised abroad throughout all the hill country of Judaea.
All they that heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, "What manner of child shall this be!"
His father, Zacharias, was filled with the Holy Ghost and prophesied, saying, "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he hath visited and redeemed his people and hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David. As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began that we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us, to perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant. The oath which he sware to our father Abraham, that he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear,
in holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life. Thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest, for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins, through the tender mercy of our God. Whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us, to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace."
The child grew and waxed strong in spirit. John was in the deserts till the day of his shewing unto Israel.
Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Ituraea and of the region of Trachonitis, and Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto John, the son of Zacharias, in the wilderness.
He came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins; as it is written in the book of the words of Esaias the prophet, saying, "I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness. Prepare ye the way of the Lord. Make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low. The crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth. All flesh shall see the salvation of God."
John said to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, "O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves that ye have Abraham to your father. God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. Now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees. Every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down and cast into the fire."
The people asked him, "What shall we do then?"
He saith unto them, "He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none. He that hath meat, let him do likewise."
Then came also publicans to be baptized, and said unto him, "Master, what shall we do?"
John said unto them, "Exact no more than that which is appointed you."
The soldiers likewise demanded of him, asked, "What shall we do?" He said unto them, "Do violence to no man. Neither accuse any falsely; be content with your wages."
As the people were in expectation, and all men mused in their hearts of John, whether he were the Christ, or not.
John said unto them all, "I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose. He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire. Whose fan is in his hand. He will throughly purge his floor and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable."
Many other things in his exhortation preached he unto the people.
Herod, the tetrarch, being reproved by him for Herodias his brother Philip's wife, and for all the evils which Herod had done, added yet this above all, that he shut up John in prison.
Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus, the cousin of John the Baptist, the Saviour of the world, and the son of God, also being baptized by John, prayed, and the heaven was opened.
The Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, "Thou art my beloved Son; in thee, I am well pleased." Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age.
Later John Baptist sent men unto Jesus saying, "Art thou he that should come? Or look we for another?"
Then Jesus answered them, "Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached.
Blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me."
When the messengers of John were departed, Jesus began to speak unto the people concerning John. Jesus asked the people, "What went ye out into the wilderness for to see? A reed shaken with the wind? What went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, they which are gorgeously apparelled, and live delicately, are in kings' courts. What went ye out for to see? A prophet? Yea, I say unto you, and much more than a prophet. John the Baptist is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist."
All the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John.
However, the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him.
The Lord said, "Whereunto then shall I liken the men of this generation? To what are they like? They are like unto children sitting in the marketplace, and calling one to another, and saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced. We have mourned to you, and ye have not wept. For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and ye said, He hath a devil."
For Herod himself had sent forth and laid hold upon John and bound him in prison for Herodias' sake, his brother Philip's wife: for he had married her.
For John had said unto Herod, "It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother's wife."
Therefore Herodias had a quarrel against him and would have killed him, but she could not.
Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy, and observed him.
A convenient day came, that Herod on his birthday made a supper to his lords, high captains, and chief estates of Galilee.
The daughter of the said Herodias came in,(his niece) danced, and pleased Herod. And before them that sat with him, the king said unto the damsel, "Ask of me whatsoever thou wilt, and I will give it thee. I swear whatsoever thou shalt ask of me, I will give it thee, unto the half of my kingdom."
She went forth and asked her mother, "What shall I ask?"
Herodias, the illegal wife of her brother-in-law, persuaded her daughter, Salome, "Ask for the head of John the Baptist!"
Salome came in straightway with haste unto the king, and demanded, "I will that thou give me by and by in a charger the head of John the Baptist."
The king was exceeding sorry. Yet for his oath's sake, and for their sakes which sat with him, he would not reject her.
Immediately the king sent an executioner and commanded that John's head be brought. The servant went and beheaded him in the prison, brought his head in a charger, and gave it to the damsel. The neice of the king gave it to her mother.
When John's disciples heard of it, they came and took up his corpse, and laid it in a tomb.
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