John the Baptist, Jesus & The Empty Temple
May 23, 2017
In the Gospel of Luke, it’s written of John, that “while in the wilderness (barren place), the Word of God came to him.” In the Greek it states he received the “Rhēma” (spoken, revealed) word from God, telling him of the things that were to come, revealing the kingdom to him and commissioning him to go and to begin preparing the way for the coming Messiah. God told him what the sign would be so he would recognize the Chosen One when he saw Him, as he states in John 1:33-34: “And I knew Him not: but He (God) 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.”
After this encounter with God in the wilderness, John went into all the area around Jordan, prophesying about the kingdom to come, preaching repentance and baptizing all who would listen and turn their hearts. Notice, he wasn’t in Jerusalem, preaching and prophesying in the Temple or in a synagogue there. The Bible says, the priests and Levites sent for and required an answer from him as to who he was, and what authorized him to preach and to baptize. The Bible says, he came in the “spirit and power of Elijah” as spoken of him before he was born. While according to tradition they had been waiting for Elijah to return, they did not perceive it when he did. Jesus spoke of this fact later on to His disciples.
There were 2 high priests serving at that time, Ananias and Caiaphas. Their duties were to complete the required rituals in the Temple, before the Lord, to wait for Elijah’s return and for the Messiah to come. But notice, when the time came, Jesus, the Messiah, did not go to either of them. Instead, He went to the one who was out in the wilderness, living a life set apart. It was the wild man, the radical, preaching repentance, that He went to. It was the outcast evangelist who had heard from God and started preparing the people for the Lord’s coming.
There are a few important keys to point out here:
1. John separated himself in a wilderness
2. He lived a fasted lifestyle
3. He received a Word from God to “GO”
4. He went declaring God’s Word
We see something similar of Jesus right before His ministry began. When the Holy Ghost descended on Him after John baptized Him, He:
1. Withdrew into the wilderness
2. Fasted 40 days & was tempted
3. Began His ministry
There are certain things that will cause God’s attention to be drawn toward us. If we will willingly set ourselves apart, keeping ourselves before the Lord and live a praying and fasting lifestyle, God will use us. It will require periods of time in the wilderness places, but oh, the voice of the Lord is there! It is a place of purification. It is a place of emptying. But it is also a place of infilling with the fire of God. There may be many ministries in place and in operation today, full of ritual, full of tradition, beautiful on the inside, but that does not mean the Spirit of God will be found in them. He will be found among those Who are preparing their hearts to receive Him. Pursuing hearts will go to the ends of the earth to find Him.