Not the Christ: John 1:19-34

Focus Passage: John 1:19-34 (NASB)

In this passage, John, the disciple of Jesus and the author of the gospel that is named after him, shares about John the Baptist – Jesus’ forerunner in ministry. John’s role that we learn in this passage is to help straighten the path of the Messiah, however, this didn’t come as an easy task.

Similar to what would happen with Jesus, John was called to answer for what He was doing in the wilderness by the Jordan River. The Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask Him a simple question, “Who are you?” (v. 19)

On the surface, this seems kind of obvious. This man was John the Baptizer. But under the surface is a challenge: “Who are you to be doing what you are doing?” is likely what they were asking. Under the surface, these messengers wanted to have the question answered: “Are you the Messiah? Are you the Christ?”

John responded, “I am not the Christ.” (v. 20)

However, these messengers were not fazed. A number of others prophesied about individuals from Israel’s past, so “they asked him, ‘What then? Are you Elijah?’ And he [John the Baptist] said, ‘I am not.’ ‘Are you the Prophet?’ And he answered, ‘No.’” (v. 21)

This is significant in the minds of those living at that time, because prior to this, God had been silent for close to 400 years. God had not left His people, nor had He stopped stepping in to help, but He had stopped sending prophets with messages from Him to the people.

But then John steps onto the scene in a public way, and he was the son of a priest, which likely perplexed the spiritual community in Jerusalem. If John was not the Messiah, or one of the other prominent men who were prophesied about, then these messengers have a problem. “Then they said to him, ‘Who are you, so that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?’” (v. 22)

In John’s reply we discover our big truth. John responds by saying, “I am a voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as Isaiah the prophet said.” (v. 23)

John’s example is important for us today. John knew exactly what his role was in history. He was to be the one to call the people back to God and prepare their hearts and minds to meet the Messiah. Our role in history is similar to John’s. While we cannot prepare for an upcoming Messiah, while we are here on earth, we can point people to Jesus, and help them prepare their hearts and minds for His second coming. In this way, we are all called to be like John the Baptist.

This thought was inspired by studying the Walking With Jesus “Reflective Bible Study” package. To discover insights like this in your own study time, click here and give Reflective Bible Study a try today!

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