Summary: Early in the ministry of John the Baptist he had introduced a new teaching of baptism to the Jewish people. In this message the religious leaders interview John the Baptist on this new doctrine, and aquestion him to see if he is the Christ.


John 1: 21-34

Greenmount and O’Leary Churches of Christ

January 31, 2021

[Sermon three on the Gospel of John series 2021

Video Link to Sermon:


1.) As an introduction to this passage of Scripture I want to read from Matthew 3:1-8, as this gives us the background to our Scripture that we will be looking at from John 1.

A.) In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea 2 and saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’ 3 This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: ‘A voice of one calling in the wilderness, “Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.”’

4 John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt round his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. 5 People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. 6 Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the River Jordan.

7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: ‘You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.

B.) Because John had introduced a new teaching of baptism, the religious leaders came to challenge him on this new doctrine.

ba.) John called them a brood of vipers and told them to show fruits of repentance.

baa.) From the context of this passage, it would seem the fruits of repentance he was speaking of was that they also needed to be baptized.

bb.) So, with that as a background, let us get into our text, and the questions these religious leaders asked John:

I. WHO ARE YOU? (1:21-23)

1.) Are you Elijah? (1:21)

A.) We looked at this question a bit last week.

aa.) Last week we looked at Malachi 3:1 and 4:5-6 that Elijah would come before the great and dreadful day of the Lord.

ab.) Jesus declared (Matthew 17), John the Baptist was indeed the prophesied Elijah who was to come before the Day of The Lord.

aba.) John did not realize he was the one prophesied, and so answered that he was not Elijah.

abb.) It was only after John’s death that Jesus proclaimed him as Elijah the forerunner of the Messiah.

2.) Are you the prophet? (1:21b.)

A.) The term prophet comes from Deuteronomy 18:15.

aa.) Moses prophesied of a coming prophet like himself.

B.) These religious leaders who came to question John were from the Sanhedrin, or the ruling council of Jews.

ba.) That council included Pharisees, and Sadducees.

C.) The prophet of whom Moses spoke was the Messiah or Christ.

ca.) The Sadducees believed the prophet and the Messiah were two different people.

cb.) This was because Sadducees only accepted the law and therefore did not comprehend that the prophet and the Messiah were the same person.

cba.) Moses only spoke of the prophet.

cbb.) Other references to the Messiah of God would be from the Prophets which were not accepted as Scripture by the Sadducees.

.01) That is the reason for the distinction here between the prophet and the Messiah even though in actuality they referred to the same person.

D.) The religious leaders asked John their next question.

3.) Are you the Christ?

A.) John 1:19-20

B.) With the new teachings John was giving, his preaching, and teaching, and the new practice of baptism, the religious leaders were trying to put a handle on John and who he was.

4.) “I am the voice of one calling in the desert, make straight the way for the Lord.”

A.) John 1:22-23

B.) By the Holy Spirit of God John answered their question by quoting Isaiah 40:3.

ba.) His answer also expressed his own humility that he was nobody of importance just merely a voice crying out in the wilderness.

bb.) This brought these religious leaders to their next question:


1.) Baptism was a new teaching and practice introduced by John.

A.) In Judaism there were ceremonial washings, and cleansings but this practice of baptism was a new teaching.

B.) The Jewish leaders were challenging John because of this new practice of immersion for the Jewish people in their worship.

ba.) That is also the reason they were asking him if He was the Christ, the prophet, or even Elijah.

C.) Had John been one of these men he may have had the authority to introduce a new teaching as a representative from God.

ca.) By the Holy Spirit, God had in fact directed John to bring this new teaching to the world.

2.) John and John’s baptism served as a transition from Judaism to Jesus Christ.

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