Besides that, what is John the Baptist's contribution/significance/utility to Christianity?
To begin let me take this opportunity to congratulate the other posters preceding this element of the answer! It would be frivolous for me to take a chance to improve what has already been shared; and I humbly yield to the others discourse and factual presentation per se! However the answer that I would add as an attempt to unlock some of the elements about John the Baptist; that has been known for millennia and somewhat suppressed. As to that action I do not care to be overly contentious about the issue.
The following are a brief reference to answer the issue at hand!
Isaiah 48:16 (KJV)
17 Thus saith the LORD, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; I am the LORD thy God which teacheth thee to profit, which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go.
John 14:6 (KJV)
6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
Jeremiah 10:1-9 (KJV)
1 Hear ye the word which the LORD speaketh unto you, O house of Israel:
2 Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them.
3 For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. 4 They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not. 5 They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good. 6 Forasmuch as there is none like unto thee, O LORD; thou art great, and thy name is great in might. 7 Who would not fear thee, O King of nations? for to thee doth it appertain: forasmuch as among all the wise men of the nations, and in all their kingdoms, there is none like unto thee. 8 But they are altogether brutish and foolish: the stock is a doctrine of vanities. 9 Silver spread into plates is brought from Tarshish, and gold from Uphaz, the work of the workman, and of the hands of the founder: blue and purple is their clothing: they are all the work of cunning men.
The key begins earlier in the text at Matthew 3: 3, “… Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” The emphasis was to bring Israel into alignment with their calling! The unique element of John The Baptist; that is demonstrable by scripture and scripture alone is, his birth sequence and coordination with the Birth of Jesus The Messiah! The facts of the birth sequence are based upon the calendars taught within Judaism and also in practice by Messianic groups worldwide, some call them completed Jews and I applaud them for finding their Messiah, there are variants
Again I do not care to be contentious about this but rather willing to share to the serious discerning student! The details are explosive on a global scale in geopolitics, economics and in the spiritual realm of contemporary Christianity; Protestant, Orthodoxy, Roman Catholic, Pentecostal, Charismatic it does not matter plus variant other Independent believers. Wars and persecution have been waged since the occurrence of those events. And I do not think this is the proper format to engage in this study, due to the fact there is a “we can’t handle the truth” policy!
Addendum: Due to the suggestion of a moderator, I will comply.
I make no change to the original post, other than applying bold to the simplicity of the answer and a variant clarifier to end of answer paragraph!
When the sincere discerning student of scripture truly desires to find the integrity to the submitted answer above; all extra biblical postulations must be set aside, to be dealt with at a later time. The student can then collate all aspects leading to the birth of John the Baptist. There will be a list of priestly order of Zachariah, his father, and their scheduled order in the Temple service, reference is I Chronicles 24. There will be applied from within The Law of Moses, concerning the sacrifices required of Elisabeth, his mother, concerning her uncleanness, reference is Leviticus 15:19-33. Then we must also understand that all priest were to perform their assigned duties during the Festivals set forth beginning in Exodus 23:14 & Deuteronomy 16:16. Furthermore; as restricting parameters we will apply boundaries to the calendar; by reference I Corinthians 4:6 “…not to think above that which is written…” & Galatians 4:4 “…made under the law…”! (To amplify the use of “made” some underlying translation use variants as follows; 1) to become, i.e. to come into existence, begin to be, receive being, 2) to come to pass, happen, 3) to arise, appear in history, come upon the stage, 4) to be made, finished! (KJV italics removed)
Now we begin to collate the events leading up to the meeting of Elisabeth and Mary the mother of Jesus The Messiah.
In order to save a lot of frustration; it would be easier to explain the details within a spread sheet format (this picture is worth 10,000s of words). I have used this for some time and thanks to software applications (excel) it is much simpler to edit, etc. We use legal size with landscape view (columns A-Q and 90 lines). Column A is widened 2-2 1/2” for reference & notes, column B will represent the pre-natal count for John the Baptist, column C is for the priestly order for service, column is D blank, columns E-K are for the enumerated calendar for this study, column L is blank, “COLUMN M” will be used for the prenatal count for Jesus The Messiah, columns N-Q will be for additional reference & notes some may be merged depending upon your personal preference, if you chose to continue (this mission is not impossible). Then we start by establishing the calendar to the Biblical format of lunar months (Gregorian calendar; solar and astrological elements do not apply!) Column E1-K1 begins and continues though the entire format (7 day week, down to line 90) and the Biblical lunar months alternate between 30 & 29 days respectively! I wish it could be set in a comma delimited format, however if you place each reference to the spread sheet as presented (column-line reference), simply check off each entry as you go through the explanation process.
Beginning at; A1 & A2, Levites on duty by course>>> - ref. I Chronicles 24, C1 = 1 (to enumerate down the column, the priestly order 1-24, N1= Exodus 12:2 “…beginning of months…”, A3 = Passover, C3 = ALL (all priest at 3 major festivals), A4 is Aviv / March-April, A9 = Luke 1:5-22 Abiyah / Zacariah (the father of John the Baptist in his normal rotation within the priestly order by course!) At A10 = Luke 1:23 (Pentecost or Weeks), C10 = ALL (festival requirement). At A12 = Leviticus 15:26, at C11 & 12 underline the priestly order numbers; began earlier (should be 9 &10) (to allow the guidelines set forth in reference as a variable within the calendar, Elisabeth separation for uncleanness). If it is in scripture it behooves the student to consider the facts! At A13 = Luke 1:24a / Luke 1:24b Elisabeth to hiding, A14 = begin prenatal count for John the Baptist>>> & at B14 = 1 (to begin enumeration down the column to the full term birth of JB), at A53 = Passover (full term birth of JB) & C53 = ALL (festival). At A52 = Luke 1:57-79, K52 should be 10 and bold, N52 = Lamb brought in on sabbath, A54 = JB circumcision (8th day), N54 = Luke 1:59, A61 = Pentecost, C61 = ALL (festival)! Note Zacariah does double duty back to back; on regular course and Pentecost!
If your brain is burning it will heal as this is absorbed and comprehended as, contrary to the traditions of men! We now need to correlate the meeting of Elisabeth, having been in hiding for 5 months, with Mary the mother of Jesus The Messiah! At A34 = Luke 1:24b (hidden 5 months), B34 should be 21, at A37 = Luke 1:26, A38 = Hanukkah (2nd feast of lights); this is the Ace in the hole Royal Flush and an unbeatable hand! At B38 should be 25, C38 = 7, N38 = Luke 1:27-39 dedication of her temple, A39= Luke 1:40-56, N39 = begin prenatal count for Jesus The Messiah, M39 = 1 to begin down column enumerations for full term birth of Jesus The Messiah! At A78 = Yom Kippur*, C78 = 1, E-K78 = 9-15, M78 = 40, N78 = Luke 2:7 HIS BIRTH, A79 = TABERNACLES (II Chronicles 6 & 7 as a comparative reference), C79 = ALL, E-K79 = 16-22, N79 = Luke 2:21 – HIS CIRCUMCISION, N84 = Luke 2:22 “His Dedication in Temple” ref. is LV 12:1-4! As an extra emphasis on this calendar we can now add an oversize right brace from O78 drawn down to O85 with point to right, then we can merge cells OPQ81 & 82 (in these merged cells enter in as large as possible and bold “Galatians 4:4”
I admit this ordeal sounds a tad rough or tedious however it does correspond with scripture! Do not forget to enter the other festivals and correlate the priestly numberings, the calendar days are important and need to be reconciled with scripture! (proof PDF available)
Isaiah 61:2 (KJV)
2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;
Luke 4:19-21 (KJV)
19 To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.
20 And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.
John the Baptist is a key to establishing; The Acceptable Year of The Lord!