Both of Them Preached the Gospel, Why Was Jesus Christ’s Identity Different From That of John the Baptist

Hello Brothers and Sisters of Grow in Christ:

I have a question I’d like to ask. Both the Lord Jesus and John the Baptist were born by promise, the Lord Jesus preached the gospel of the kingdom of heaven when He came, and John also did much work and spread the gospel “Repent you: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”; but why was John’s identity not the same as that of the Lord Jesus? I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,

Zhang Yu

Hello Zhang Yu,

At first, I also didn’t know why the identities of the Lord Jesus and John the Baptist were different. Later, in a meeting, one of my co-workers helped me to seek for fellowship on the question on a gospel website. Through the fellowship of brothers and sisters, I gained some knowledge. Now I’d like to share it with you.

In regard to why the Lord Jesus’ identity was not the same as that of John, we need to find the answer in the Bible. Let’s firstly look at the circumstances of John’s birth. Because John’s mother Elisabeth was barren, and she and her husband Zacharias were well stricken in years, Zacharias prayed to God. And then an angel said to him, “… for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elisabeth shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name John” (Luke 1:13). “And 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” (Luke 1:17). From these verses, we can see, before John was born, the angel had spoken out his identity, saying that he would go before him in the spirit and power of Elias. Elias was a prophet in the Old Testament Age of Law, and John was actually the reincarnation of Elias. This can be confirmed in the Bible: “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of Jehovah” (Malachi 4:5). “And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come? And Jesus answered and said to them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things. But I say to you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done to him whatever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them. Then the disciples understood that he spoke to them of John the Baptist” (Matthew 17:10-13).

Before John was born, the angel said, “And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, … to make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Luke 1:17). After John was born, Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying to him, “And you, child, shall be called the prophet of the Highest: for you shall go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways” (Luke 1:76). Mark 1:3 records, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare you the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” From these verses, we can see John’s mission was to pave the way for the Lord’s work and that his identity was that of a prophet. After he grew up, he began to carry out his duties and mission. Because of the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, he also knew he was the one to pave the way for the Lord Jesus. For example, “And John was clothed with camel’s hair, and with a girdle of a skin about his loins; and he did eat locusts and wild honey; And preached, saying, There comes one mightier than I after me, the lace of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose. I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost” (Mark 1:6-8). From these verses, we can see that, though John preached the gospel of the kingdom of heaven, his identity was that of an ordinary person and he was only a prophet who paved the way for the Lord. He spread the Lord Jesus’ work among people in order that the Lord Jesus would be able to better carry out the work of the Age of Grace.

At this point, John’s identity was clear. Next, let’s look at the Lord Jesus’ identity. Luke 1:30-35 says, “And the angel said to her, Fear not, Mary: for you have found favor with God. And, behold, you shall conceive in your womb, and bring forth a son, and shall call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give to him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. Then said Mary to the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said to her, The Holy Ghost shall come on you, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow you: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of you shall be called the Son of God.” Isaiah also prophesied, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given: and the government shall be on his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). Before Jesus came to earth, the angel had said that His identity was that of the Son of God, that is, God himself. And the prophet Isaiah also prophesied that Jesus’ identity was God.

Lord Jesus baptized

Then, let’s read other verses. “And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, see, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting on him: And see a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:16-17). “He said to them, But whom say you that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said to him, Blessed are you, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood has not revealed it to you, but my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 16:15-17). From these verses we can see that when Jesus was baptized to begin His ministry, the Holy Spirit personally testified that He was God’s beloved Son; when He asked Peter who He was, Peter was enlightened by the Holy Spirit and replied that He was the Christ, the Son of the living God. Also, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). From the above verses, we can clearly know Jesus’ identity was Christ, God.

From these verses, we know although the Lord Jesus and John the Baptist were both born by promise, there was a decisive difference between their identities. The Lord Jesus was God become flesh, Christ, while John was only a man used by God, a prophet.In addition, from the the nature of the work of the Lord Jesus and John, we can also see the difference of their identities. God’s words say: “The work done by John and that done by Jesus were not alike as well as of different natures. It is from this that one determines whether or not he is God. The work of Jesus was to initiate, to continue, to conclude, and to bring to fruition. He carried out each of these steps, whereas the work of John was no more than making a beginning. In the beginning, Jesus spread the gospel and preached the way of repentance, and then went on to baptize man, heal the sick, and cast out demons. In the end, He redeemed mankind from sin and completed His work for the entire age. He also went about in every place, preaching to man and spreading the gospel of the kingdom of heaven. In this regard He and John were alike, the difference being that Jesus ushered in a new age and brought the Age of Grace to man. From His mouth came the word on what man should practice and the way that man should follow in the Age of Grace, and in the end, He finished the work of redemption. John could never have carried out this work. And so it was Jesus who did the work of God Himself, and it is He who is God Himself, and who directly represents God.

Finishing reading this section of the word of God, we can understand that judging by their appearance, both the Lord Jesus and John were ordinary, normal people, so it isn’t easy for us to distinguish their identities; but we can distinguish and confirm their identities through the work they did. At that time, John preached “Repent you: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” and many people followed him. But he was unable to speak of the specific way of repentance, and he only paved the way for the Lord Jesus and conveyed the gospel of the kingdom of heaven to people so that they could keep pace with God’s work. After hearing the gospel he spread, people only knew to repent, but they didn’t know the way to practice, so they were still restricted by the law. Because John was a man, who possessed neither the truth nor could he express the truth, he couldn’t bring people the way, the truth and the life. In comparison, the Lord Jesus also spread the way of repentance when He began to fulfill His ministry. Judging from His appearance, He was an ordinary, normal man, but He possessed divine substance. He could usher in a new age and end the old age. He could also express the truth and point out the way to practice for people. For example, when Peter asked Him how often his brother could sin against him and he should forgive him, the Lord Jesus told him to forgive him seventy times seven times (See Matthew 18:21-22). And Jesus told us the standard of entering the kingdom of heaven is doing the will of the Father (See Matthew 7:21-23). And so on. These words the Lord Jesus expressed allow us to clearly understand God’s will and know the way of practice. More importantly, the Lord Jesus became flesh so that He could be nailed to the cross and serve as a sin offering for man, thus saving them from sin. Only when they were forgiven their sins would they have an opportunity to pray to God and obtain God’s salvation. If the Lord Jesus hadn’t done so, they would have been condemned by the law and put to death under the law. Only the Lord Jesus could do the work of redeeming mankind, John couldn’t do such work, and neither could anyone else could.So, from the above two aspects, we can see why the identities of the Lord Jesus and John were different.

I hope the above fellowship and understanding will be helpful for you.

Yours truly,

Grow in Christ