Someone recently found my blog by searching this question — “Why didn’t John the Baptist follow Jesus?”
Good question. What do you think? I know some of you readers are pretty smart. Why didn’t John the Baptist follow Jesus?
Filed under Bible, Christianity
Okay, here are a few thoughts. First, I think the whole being in prison and having your head cut off thing would tend to make it difficult for one to follow a rabbi around the countryside. Can’t you just hear Peter now: “Oh that John, he keeps forgetting everything. I I swear he would forget his head if it werent’ attached!” Sorry, but the picture of Peter saying that just struck me as funny.
So, other than the physical constraints that kept him from following Jesus, I think there are probably some other things that come into play as well. The fact that John is the forerunner of Jesus (Elijah figure) probably has something to do with it. John’s mnistry was to preach repentance and to baptize (a very different baptism than Christian baptism), and to proclaim the coming of the kingdom. He had fulfilled his role and pointed the way to the coming Messiah. I think this ministry would have looked very different had he been one of the twelve, and perhaps this could only occur as an “outsider”. Also, in the Gospel of Mark, the auhor places the calling of the twelve after John was already in prison. Perhaps my intial attempt at humor has something to it afterall. Maybe a good question is why did Jesus wait until John was in prison to really begin his descipleship ministry? If John had continued to be free, what would he (John) and Jesus have done? I know it would have been very odd to have one person who was a rabbi to then sotp bing one and follow another rabbi. I personally think that John had completed the work God had called him to do, the introduction of Jesus as messiah and the proclamation of the kingdom of God, and God said well done my good and faithful servant, and he died because the days God ordained for him had been fulfilled.
You have a sick sense of humor. 🙂 And I’m still laughing.
I think you’re right, though. Obviously the timing was off. But would John have been put in prison and beheaded if he had stopped his own specific type of ministry and followed Jesus? But it would have been a weird dynamic. Very different.
I think your idea, Jeff, that this was just the way God planned it, that John had one specific ministry and he accomplished it, is right.
Anybody else have thoughts?
I’m with Jeff — it seems that God must have planned it that way because of the strange dynamic it would have been with John as one of the disciples. I have never thought about this before, and am very intrigued! Cool thoughts. I plan to ask the question in our Bible study on Wednesday night sometime. I’ll let you know if we come up with anymore ideas. 😉
How do we know he *didn’t*? (OK, until he was beheaded. 😉 ) He wasn’t chosen as one of the 12 disciples, no, but perhaps he was one of the unnamed followers.
I’m not saying he *was*, but what I am saying is that we don’t know for sure that he *wasn’t*.
Maybe we can’t say that we know for sure, but I couldn’t find anything to indicate that he did follow Jesus. If John had left his ministry to follow Jesus, I would think that in John 1:35-42 it would give some indication of that. That coupled with the lack of any mention of it in any of the other gospels makes it unlikely that it happened. It does appear though that just shortly after the baptism John is imprisoned. This would have put John in prison just as Jesus was beginning to start his ministry, not giving him time to follow Jesus. This wold free up John’s disciples to follow Jesus though, which it appears at least 2 of them did. What a way for John to “decrease”, by being removed from the picture so that Jesus and His ministry are central and not competing with John’s.
This is an interesting discussion so I figure I’ll toss in my two rubles.
John and Jesus both followed the God of Israel, but it seems the fact that the Messiah was also the incarnation of God was not yet fully revealed to most this early in Jesus’ ministry. There were many intepretations from various sects within Judea regarding the role of the Messiah.
John revered Jesus. And his role was to pave the way for Christ. He fulfilled his role and prepared the way for Christ to proclaim the coming Kingdom. Thus, it is difficult for a predecessor to follow the one who follows.
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