January 16, 2011

John the Baptist Denies Being the Christ

John 1: 19-28 (NIV)

“19 And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, "Who are you?" 20 He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, "I am not the Christ." 21 And they asked him, "What then? Are you Elijah?" He said, "I am not." "Are you the Prophet?" And he answered, "No." 22 So they said to him, "Who are you? We need to give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?" 23 He said, "I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, 'Make straight the way of the Lord,' as the prophet Isaiah said."

24 Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. 25 They asked him, "Then why are you baptizing, if you are neither the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?" 26 John answered them, "I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know, 27 even he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie." 28 These things took place in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing.”


He must have seemed so Christ-like that to mistake him as the Messiah required little effort. Dressed in unusual apparel for the day, John the Baptist wore clothes made of camel's hair and ate locusts and wild honey. Many who went out of their way to travel into the hot desert to see him ended up repenting of their sins and being baptized. The whole scenario bore an unmistakable resemblance to the prophetic words of Isaiah 40:3, "A voice of one calling in the desert, Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him." It's no wonder so many thought he was the Messiah.

For many this mistake in identity would be a sure prescription for puffed pride, but John the Baptist took no credit of his own. Instead, he unequivocally denied being the Messiah, never once intentionally misleading anyone. After all, to take any of the glory would have been a sin and with the Spirit's wisdom firmly planted in him before birth (Luke 1:41), John understood his role in God's kingdom plan was to guide men to Christ and never himself.

Humble and true to his summons, John's Spirit-filled passion projected so much of Christ that he was mistaken for the holy One. What an honor it would have been to have seen this great man of God in action. Confronting corruption while paving the way for the Messiah, sometimes all in the same breath. What a show stopper. I can only hope that perhaps in heaven, once the popcorn is served, God will press the rewind button back to the days of Christ and give us a bird's eye view of the acts of this man Jesus Himself described as the greatest born among all women. (Matt 11:11/Luke 7:28)

John the Baptist's humility convicts me something awful. I'm quite sure I was not chosen to pave the way for God's Son because my pride would be a huge stumbling block. Of course John wasn't perfect, only Jesus lived a sinless life, but the Bible speaks of nothing but good about Jesus' relative and forerunner. His story is one of impeccable performance that inspires me to become a better person, one more focused on Christ. We'll learn more about John the Baptist in the days to come and one thread we'll see throughout his life is one of a humble man supremely focused on God, even unto death. May we instill this mission in our heart's and lives as well.


As you read about John the Baptist in these verses, which of his characteristics do you admire most? Humility? Passion? Focus? Something else?

Are there any areas in your life where you might be stealing a bit of glory that belongs to God?

How can you better focus your life on the calling God has for you?


Happy Little Trees Studio said...

Really convicting post! I love this series you're doing!

About Nancy said...

It convicts me too Little Trees.

Cheryl Barker said...

In these verses, I think I most admire his humility. When John said "the strap of whose sandal I am unworthy to untie", it points all eyes to Jesus and not himself.

Loved your idea of popcorn in heaven and watching "reruns" of some of the amazing Bible times that have meant so much to all of us. What a treat that would be!

Desiray said...

John the baptist was the fore runner for Christ. He called sin sin and we too must call sin sin and not be ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ