Jesus thought highly of John the Baptist and learned from him. In Luke 3:11, we find John teaching people, “He who has two coats, let him share with him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise.” Today, too many people would associate that teaching with Jesus, not noticing that it originated with John. Similarly, when Jesus’ followers asked him to teach them to pray “…as John [the Baptist] taught his disciples,” Jesus teaches them the version found in Luke’s Gospel of what we have come to call, “The Lord’s Prayer (Luke 11:1-4). Additionally, there is evidence that the Sermon on the Mount was shared and preached by both Jesus and John.
Jesus saw himself as the Davidic Messiah and he saw John the Baptist as the counselor who would sit by his throne. Jesus got this from the prophet Zechariah who prophesied, “There shall be a priest by his throne with peaceful understanding between the two of them” (Zechariah 6:13). John the Baptist’s father was a priest, which according to Jewish practice would make John a priest by inheritance.
Not only has Christian theology as taught by the traditional church hierarchy misrepresented Jesus, it has also misrepresented John the Baptist. Time and again, the church hierarchy has made Jesus into something it wanted him to be rather than something that he was in reality. This is true for John the Baptist as well.
In reality, Jesus was a Jew and remained a Jew. He saw himself as the Davidic Messiah in partnership with John the Baptist, the Messiah’s counselor. His intent was to prepare people for the Apocalypse of God, helping them to get right with God by repenting of their sins and leading a life of love of God and neighbor.
The church hierarchy from the Church Fathers down the line to the Popes and on through the Reformation was antisemitic. They wanted nothing to do with Jews; they suppressed Jesus’ Jewishness, under-rated John the Baptist and put words in Jesus’ mouth that no Jew would ever have spoken.