“And his disciples came and took the body and buried it, and they went and told Jesus.” (Matthew 14:12 ESV)
A number of years ago, archaeologists in Bulgaria claimed to have found some of the remains of the Baptizer in a sarcophagus while excavating the site of a fifth-century monastery on the island of Sveti Ivan on the Black Sea.
It was noted at the time that a box near the sarcophagus, a reliquary—a container for holy relics—held fragments from a skull, a knucklebone, a rib, a forearm bone, and a tooth. DNA and radiocarbon testing pointed to a first-century A.D. male with Middle East origins, according to reporting in Live Science and National Geographic.
Now you may wonder what real evidence do we have that these bones actually belonged to John the Baptist, the cousin of Jesus Christ.
One bit of interesting evidence in that direction is the inscription on the reliquary bearing the name of St. John. It also references June 24, the day many Christian’s celebrate as the day of his birth.
Of course, no amount of testing is going to prove these bone fragments belong to John. I have been in Istanbul and seen what is purported to be John’s hand encased in a golden, bejeweled glove. I have seen various parts of him, including numerous bodiless heads, scattered among cathedrals in Europe. If all of these relics really do belong to John, he was a mighty strange-looking fellow.
Chances are great that nobody knows where John is buried, and we’re not likely to make that discovery anytime soon. That’s okay. We don’t need to know where John the Baptist’s body has been placed. We don’t need to know because the day will come when John’s body will rise and be reunited with his soul to live forever with his Savior. The same thing will happen to you, me, and all who are believers in the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Together we will stand in thankful praise before our Redeemer.
Remember, friend, knowing Jesus as your Savior is the essential thing. It’s far more vital and necessary than putting your faith in a box of bones—no matter whom they belong to.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, I give thanks for Your resurrection and the eternal victory You won for us. I trust You with my life. In Your Name I pray. Amen.
From “Discernment,” a devotion by Rev. Dr. Kenneth Klaus, former Speaker of The Lutheran Hour
Used by permission from International Lutheran Laymen’s League, all rights reserved
1. When you hear the word, “archaeology,” what do you think of first?
2. How do you think Jesus reacted to the news of John’s death? (See Matthew 14:13.)
3. For John to have been buried and then for his bones to appear in many distant locations, meant he had to be exhumed. Do you think this is likely? Why or why not?