John and Jesus: Remarkable Similarities

June 22, 2018

The Pastor's Page

St. John the BaptistThe birth of St. John the Baptist features the one who is the precursor, the forerunner, the one who foretold the coming of Jesus, went ahead of him, prepared his way, pointed him out when he came, and proclaimed him to be the Son of God. The birth of John set the stage for the birth of Jesus, and the two of them have much in common.

John and Jesus were relatives. They both had annunciations: the angel Gabriel announced the birth of John to Zechariah; the angel Gabriel announced the birth to Jesus to Mary. They both had holy mothers: Elizabeth was righteous and filled with the Holy Spirit; Mary was full of grace and overshadowed by the Holy Spirit. Both of their births were miraculous: Elizabeth was old, barren, and beyond her childbearing years; Mary was young, a virgin, and before her childbearing years. Elizabeth’s conception was the Lord’s doing; Mary’s conception was by the power of the Holy Spirit. John was not named after his father Zechariah, but given the name provided by the angel; Jesus was not named after his father Joseph, but given the name provided by the angel. Both escaped the massacre of the Holy Innocents: John was hidden in the Rock of Concealment; Jesus and his parents fled to Egypt.

John and Jesus had strong religious upbringings. John had good and holy parents, Elizabeth and Zechariah; Jesus had good and holy parents, Mary and Joseph. Both observed the Sabbath, John in the Temple in Jerusalem, Jesus in the synagogue in Nazareth. Very little is known about their childhoods. John presumably was an understudy of his father Zechariah as a priest in the Temple; Jesus was an understudy of his father Joseph in the carpenter’s shop.

When John and Jesus appeared as adults, neither followed the professions of their fathers. John, instead of being a priest, left Jerusalem to become a desert prophet; Jesus, instead of remaining a carpenter, left Nazareth to become a preacher, teacher, and healer. John foretold the long-awaited Messiah; Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah. John was the baptizer; Jesus was the one baptized. John was a servant of God and a light to the nations; Jesus was a servant of God and a light to the nations.

Both John and Jesus were bold preachers whose tongues were as sharp as a two-edged sword. John proclaimed a baptism of repentance; Jesus told the people to repent and turn away from sin. John chastised King Herod Antipas and Herodias for their adulterous relationship; Jesus chastised the scribes and Pharisees for being hypocrites. The king and queen were furious with John; the religious leaders were furious with Jesus. John was arrested and put in prison; Jesus was apprehended at Gethsemane and held overnight.

John, innocent though he was, was beheaded with a sword; Jesus, innocent though he was, was crucified and his side pierced by a sword. John died a young man at the age of 31 or 32; Jesus died a young man at the age of 33. John died a prophet’s or martyr’s death; Jesus died a savior’s or redeemer’s death. John’s disciples took his body and laid it in a tomb; Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus took Jesus’ body and laid it in a tomb. John was given a place in heaven with the angels and saints; Jesus ascended to heaven where he is surrounded by the angels and saints. The similarities between John and Jesus are remarkable, and if John could live a life that was similar to Jesus in many ways, we are called to pattern our lives on Jesus.

About Father Michael Van Sloun

Father Michael A. Van Sloun is the pastor of Saint Bartholomew of Wayzata, MN. Ministerial interests include weekly Bible study, articles on theological topics, religious photography, retreats on Cross spirituality, and pilgrimages to the Holy Land, Italy, Greece and Turkey.

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