The story of John the Baptist begins with his father Zachary, a priest of the Temple in Jerusalem. He was in the church praying when Gabriel, an angel appeared to him. The angel said to him, “Do not be frightened Zechariah; your prayers have been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will have a son who you shall name John. You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. For he will be great in the eyes of the Lord. He shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘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.” (Luke 1:13:18). Zechariah doubted the angel because both him and his wife were old to have a child. Gabriel made Zechariah mute because of his doubts until the birth of his son.
Six months later the same angel told Mary that she would have a son. Mary heard about her cousin Elizabeth bearing a child so she went to visit her. The baby John was filled with the Holy Spirit and leaped for joy in the womb when Mary was present. John’s mission in life was to prepare the way of the Jesus, Mary’s son.
John grew up as a hermit in the desert. Because of this, he was unspoiled by the world and close to God. He spent many hours meditating to God. When he was 27 or about A.D. 30, he began preaching the word of God along the banks of the Jordan River. He proclaimed about the coming of the Messiah, although many believed that John was the Messiah. For this reason, some of John’s followers and Jesus’ followers often did not get along after their deaths.
What John is most famously known for is baptizing hence the name, John the Baptist. People would come from all over to be baptized by John. They would tell John their sins and John would baptize them. There were also people who did not want to repent, so John refused to baptize these people. All along he would preach. “I am baptizing you in water, but there is one to come that is greater than I. I am not fit to loosen his sandal strap. He will baptize you in the Holy Spirit and in fire.” (Luke 3:1)When Jesus came to John to get baptized, John did not want to baptize him because he was sinless, so therefore he did not confess his sins. He knew, though that Jesus was the messiah, and he had to baptize Him to fulfill all righteousness. After being baptized, when He was at prayer with His followers, the skies opened up and the Holy Spirit descended on him in the form of a dove. A voice came from heaven saying, “You are my beloved Son. On you my favor rests.” (Luke 3:22)
Herod the King had John put in prison on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, whom he married. The king also ordered the death of John before and thought that John must have rose from the dead. He wanted to kill John when he was in prison, but was afraid of the people. Then on Herod’s birthday, Herodias daughter danced for the king and the king was so pleased that he promised anything that she wanted. For her mother, she said she wanted the head of John. He did not want to do this but he promised. John was beheaded, put on a platter, and given to the girl, who later gave the head to her mother.
His feast day is June 24th and the feast for his beheading is August 29th.