The Death of John the Baptist
Many wonder about the darkness that engulfed the death of John the Baptist. They ask: why he should have been left to suffer and die in prison. This painful providence our human understanding cannot comprehend; but it should never lead us to doubt God when we realize that John was only a sharer in the sufferings of Christ.
Because man is finite and can’t see all the details in the past, present and certainly not the future, he can’t fully understand God’s ways. But one thing is sure that the Lord never leads His people otherwise than they would choose to be led, if they could see the end from the beginning, and see His glorious plan which they are fulfilling as co-workers with Him.
Of all the gifts that Heaven can shower upon believers, fellowship with Christ in His sufferings is the most valuable one and the highest honor. “Unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake” (Philippians 1:29). Faithful Christians, from early church and onward, have been glad to suffer for Jesus’ sake (Acts 5:41; 1 Peter 3:14; 4:12–14).
Jesus did not interrupt Satan’s plan to deliver John. He knew that John would be able to pass the test. The Savior could have come to John and delivered Him from prison with His own power. But for the sake of the millions who later would have to pass from prison to death, John was to be their example as a faithful martyr who would be greatly glorified when Jesus comes.
God grants life to men for two reasons: 1-to give them a chance to get saved. 2- and to fulfill His plan for their lives. John fulfilled God’s purpose for his life in preparing the way for the Lord (Matthew 3:3) and he also gained salvation by faith in the lamb of God (John 1:29).
Satan was allowed to cut short the earthly ministry of the Baptist; but the life that was “hid with Christ in God,” the destroyer could not reach (Colossians 3:3). Satan was thrilled that he had brought death to John, but he failed to hurt his soul. Death itself only placed John forever beyond the power of the devil. And John rested in peace.
Though no supernatural deliverance was given John, he was not forsaken. We can be sure that the Lord sent His angels to help him in his time of trial. The Holy Spirit shed light on God’s promises, which sustained his mind and gave him peace, consolation and strength. To John the Baptist, as to those that came and died after him, was given the assurance, “Lo, I am with you all the days, even unto the end” (Matthew 28:20).
Jesus declared, “For I say to you, among those born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist” (Luke 7:28). Not Enoch, who was translated to heaven, not Elijah, who was translated to heaven in a chariot of fire, was greater or more respected than John the Baptist, who died alone in prison.
In deciding the end of every believer, we can fully trust God’s wisdom in doing which his best for each person because the Lord illustrated His love for us on the cross (John 3:16; John 15:13). “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
In His service,