John the Baptist ENG (Türi)

John the Baptist was the son of an old couple, the priest Zechariah and Elisabeth, who was a cousin of the Virgin Mary. The Archangel Gabriel foretold the birth of John the Baptist. According to the prophecy of the prophet Malachi, John was also to become a prophet and so he did. John foretold the coming of Jesus: “There cometh one mightier than me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose” (Mark 1:7).

John the Baptist went to live in the desert and started baptising people in the River Jordan, which is where “the Baptist” derives from. John also baptised his relative Jesus, who was six months his junior, even though he initially did not want to do so, out of humility. When Jesus had been baptised, “straight away coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him” (Mark 1:9). Jesus considered John the Baptist to be the greatest man who had ever lived (Matt. 11:11).

A martyr’s death befell John the Baptist: Salome, the stepdaughter of King Herod Antipas, charmed the ruler at a banquet by the way she danced. At her mother’s instigation, she asked for John’s head on a platter as her reward. Herod had the saint’s head chopped off. The presentation of John’s head on a platter to Salome is a scene that is often depicted in art.

In Catholic pictures, John the Baptist is a playmate of Jesus. In pictures depicting the Last Judgement, John the Baptist is the intercessor for mankind along with the Virgin Mary. In Lutheran retables, John the Baptist is depicted as the last prophet of the Old Testament and the first of the New Testament, and is often shown together with Moses.

John the Baptist can be recognised by his camel hair garment, which he wore when he lived in the desert and when he baptised people, and by the cross in his hand. Sometimes there is also a lamb beside him, which refers to Jesus as the Sacrificial Lamb that John the Baptist had foretold.

In the Estonian folk calendar, the feast day of John the Baptist, or St. John’s Day, is 24 June, near the summer solstice.

5 years ago