Mission Of God Made Known
John 1:19-34 ESV
And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.” 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?” 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.” (Now they had been sent from the Pharisees.) They asked him, “Then why are you baptising, if you are neither the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” John answered them, “I baptise with water, but among you stands one you do not know, even he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.” These things took place in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptising. (John 1:19-28)
The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptising with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but He who sent me to baptise with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptises with the Holy Spirit.’ And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.” (John 1:29-34 ESV)
Earlier in John 1:6-8, we were told that John the Baptist was sent by God to be the witness for Jesus, that all might believe through him.
God told John the Baptist to be the witness for Jesus. He had to start his ministry all by himself, taught the people to repent of their sins, and baptised with water. By the time Jesus was ready to be revealed, the people’s hearts were already stirred to look out for the Christ. The reason why God sent John to prepare the way for Jesus is the same reason why Jesus is sending us to make disciples for Him. God wants workers to inspire His people to find Him.
The Pharisees’ questions – whether John was the Christ, Elijah or the Prophet – indicated the significant impact John made on the people. They saw those characteristics in him. Do people see Christ in us? Do we exhibit these characteristics in our life?
John borrowed a quote from Isaiah, as his own mission statement, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord’”. We too can make that our mission statement, as we are God’s witnesses.
John was called to prepare people’s hearts for the coming of Jesus. We are called to prepare people’s hearts for the second coming of Jesus. John had not seen the Christ when he started his ministry, but he relied on what he learnt from the Old Testament and was inspired by God through the Spirit. We too will not see Christ till he comes again, but we’ve learnt in the Bible about Jesus, and are moved by the Spirit too.
The Jews sent priests and Levites to ask John who he was. All he did was teach repentance, and that stirred up so many questions about who he was. But wasn’t that the role of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law? They were supposed to do that. The impact of John and the people’s reaction (thinking he was Christ or an ancient prophet came back to life) showed that the Pharisees never had such impact.
Sadly, the people were also more interested to know if John was the Christ than focus on his message of repentance. They were more concerned in a saviour who would physically set them free from the rule of the Romans. But Christ is more interested in setting us free from our slavery to sin.
John the Baptist gave up his life to follow God’s calling, but most of the people preferred knowledge and self-interest. Before John, the last prophet was Malachi, and that was 400 years before him. For John to rise up as a prophet after such a long period without prophets was really commendable.
Jesus said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest.” (Matthew 9:37-38 ESV)
Let us pray for God to equip up to work in His harvest field, to make an impact in people’s life and respond to God’s love. The Spirit will speak to us. Let’s listen to what He calls us to do, and do them by faith. I want to be a disciple. I pray that I will be brave, like John, to live out the mission that God has inspired us to do. The good thing is, I’m not alone, as I have people in my life who are trying and showing me their hearts and love for people.
Andy is the head of compliance for an international bank and is happily married, with three daughters. He became a disciple of Christ three decades ago, and studies God's Word passionately. He desires to be constantly led by the Spirit.