Now this was John’s testimony when the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, “I am not the Messiah.”
They asked him, “Then who are you? Are you Elijah?”
He said, “I am not.”
“Are you the Prophet?”
He answered, “No.”
Finally they said, “Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?”
John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’”
Now the Pharisees who had been sent questioned him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?”
“I baptize with water,” John replied, “but among you stands one you do not know. He is the one who comes after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.”
This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptizing.
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.”
Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.” – John 1:19-34
Here John the Baptist declares his mission to proclaim the coming of the Messiah. John the Baptist is not the same as the writer of this Gospel. John and Jesus were related and he was called to be a New Testament prophet. He was unique. He wore odd clothing, ate strange foods and preached an unusual message to the Judeans who went out to the wastelands to see him.
But he was not unique just to be unique. Instead, he aimed at being obedient to God and put all his energies in this task. This wild looking man had no power or authority in the Jewish system but his words held weighed authority. People were moved by what he said and they were challenged to repent and be baptized.
Although he was well known he was content for Jesus to take the higher place. At Jesus’ baptism, John the Baptist had declared Jesus to be the Messiah and God gave John a sign to show him that God had truly sent Jesus. Although Jesus and John knew each other, it was not until Jesus’ baptism that John understood that Jesus was the Messiah. Jesus’ baptism is described in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke.
Questions to ponder:
- What words can you use to describe John the Baptist?
- How did he honor God with his unusual lifestyle?
- If you had been John the Baptist, how would you feel about your mission?
- How can you be a voice for Jesus by the way you live?