Derek Prince - What Was The Ministry Of John The Baptist?
Now let’s look at John’s baptism, the baptism of John the Baptist who got his name from the fact that he was the baptizer. This is referred to in Mark 1:2-5: As it is written in the prophets behold I send my messenger before your face who will prepare your way before you. The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. That was the ministry specifically of John the Baptist. He was to go before the Messiah and prepare His way. His message basically was very simple, it could be summed up in one word, repent. It says in the next verse John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. But the word is: into the remission of sins.
So they were baptized with a baptism of repentance that led to the remission or forgiveness of their sins. Baptized in water into the forgiveness of sins. And the purpose of this was to prepare the way for the coming of Israel’s long-awaited Messiah Jesus of Nazareth. I think it’s very significant that Jesus could not come, God would not release Him to come until the hearts of God’s people had been prepared by repentance. I’m inclined to think that the same is true of the coming again of Jesus. The hearts of God’s people will have to be prepared by repentance. I think in some ways repentance is the most crucial single message that God’s people need today. That’s just a suggestion.
John’s ministry was also a very important dispensational link between two different periods of God’s dealings, or two different dispensations. The dispensation of the law and the prophets and the dispensation of grace and the Gospel which came with Jesus. So John is a crucial figure in the whole unfolding of God’s purpose. We know relatively little about him and I myself have been, I think, inclined to underestimate the importance of his ministry. His ministry was brief but it was crucial. It prepared the way for Jesus. And his impact on his people was really tremendous. If you look in the next verse of Mark 1:5 it says: All the land of Judea and those from Jerusalem went out to him and were all baptized to him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins. So he reached in a very brief period of time, doubtless hundreds of thousands of people, the whole population of Jerusalem, Judea and so on.
I always reflected on the way God does things. He doesn’t hire a committee, rent a stadium, organize a choir, and now say, We'll have a meeting. He does it in the most improbable way. So just one man in a garment of camel's hair, went out into the wilderness. Just one man. All the people went out to him. You see, that tends to be the way God does things. He does things in an unexpected way. And what brings people is not organization, although we thank God for organization. It’s not advertisement, it’s not publicity, it is the supernatural moving of God. And do you know what we need? We need the same today. Where the fire of God is burning, people will go. It doesn’t matter what kind of a place it is, it doesn’t matter what the personality of the preacher is, it doesn’t matter whether he’s educated or uneducated.
As far as we know, John the Baptist had no seminary training but he was a man set on fire by God. Jesus said later to the people of His day: He was a burning and a shining light and you were willing to rejoice in his light. But unfortunately those people to whom Jesus was speaking, never caught the fire. They went to the light, they received the benefit of the light but they never caught the fire. Jesus’ commendation of John is very powerful. He was a burning and a shining light. I believe it’s true scientifically that if you want to shine you have to burn. There is no light without heat. So let’s all take that to heart. If we’re going to shine for Jesus we have to burn. Let’s pray that we will be wherever God puts us, a burning and a shining light.