FAQ on the Christian Faith
John the Baptist was a servant of the Lord, who was born 6 months ahead of Jesus, and who was foretold in Malachi, the last Prophet in the Old Testament. "Remember the Law of Moses, My servant, which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he will turn the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse" (Malachi 4:4-6).
When Jesus was born, people of Israel abandoned the words of God's covenant and worshipped foreign gods. They offered the blind and blemish as a sacrifice, and made the temple of God a place of business. Jesus Christ is foretold in the Law of Moses and the Prophets. The Law gives man the knowledge of sin, showing how he is sinful (Romans 3:20). It is a sin not to abide by all things written in the books of the Law, to perform. In the Old Testament, a sinner who disobeyed any of the things of the Law brought a sin offering in front of the tabernacle, and put his hands on the head of the sin offering to lay his sin on it, and slew the sin offering to be forgiven and united with God. Then the priest took some of its blood and put it on the horns of the altar of burnt offering and poured out all the rest of its blood at the base of the altar.
However, the people of Israel couldn't be delivered from all their sins regardless of daily offerings. Therefore, God made a permanent statute for them, the Day of Atonement. It was at this time God would forgive their yearly sins on the tenth day of the seventh month. On that day Aaron, the high priest, took two goats and cast lots for the two goats; one for the Lord and the other for the scapegoat. Then he laid his hands on the head of the goat for the Lord to lay all the yearly sins of the people of Israel on it. Aaron then slew it and took its blood, and sprinkled it seven times on and in front of the mercy seat. When he finished atoning for the holy place, he offered the other lot. He laid his hands on the head of the live goat, and confessed over it all the yearly sins of Israel, and laid the sins on it, and sent it away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who stands in readiness. The Israelites could be redeemed from their yearly sins in that way.
However, the sacrifice offered according to the Law of the Old Testament could not make perfect those who offered continually year by year. It was merely a shadow of the good things (the Messiah) to come. People of Israel did not wait for Jesus Christ, the Savior. Instead they worshipped strange gods in a sinful world, abandoning the words of the Prophets in the Old Testament.
Thus, God foretold to send John the Baptist in order to restore the hearts of the Israelites to Him, and to prepare their hearts to receive Jesus Christ. Before John the Baptist baptized Jesus, he gave the baptism of repentance to the people of Israel in the wilderness of Judea. His purpose of baptizing them with water was to lead them to believe and look for Jesus who would be baptized by him in the way of the laying on of hands to take away all the sins of the world and crucified to save them from all their sins. He said that Jesus would come and take away the incomplete sacrifices and offer one sacrifice for sins for all time, just as the people of Israel were redeemed by bringing a sin offering without blemish, by laying their hands on it, and by slaying it according to the sacrificial system in the Old Testament.
Many Israelites confessed their sins, repented, were baptized by him. "Repentance" means "to return one's mind to the Lord." They came to John, and remember the Law of the Old Testament, and confessed that they only sin until they die and cannot enter the kingdom of heaven with their good deeds according to the Law, and returned their minds to Jesus Christ, who would blot out all their sins once and for all and open the gate to the kingdom of heaven. The baptism that John the Baptist gave to the people of Israel was to let them confess how much they sin in their lives and repent and look for Jesus Christ, who would be baptized by him, the high priest and the representative of mankind, and crucified to save them from all their sins, just as he baptized them. This is a true biblical repentance. Therefore, John exclaimed to the people, "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire" (Matthew 3:11).
John the Baptist turned peoples' minds to Jesus, testified them that Jesus took away all the sins of the world (John 1:29), and died a martyr.