19 The Jews of Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask John who he was. John gave witness to them. 20 He did not try to hide the truth. He spoke to them openly. He said, “I am not the Christ.” 21 They asked him, “Then who are you? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet we’ve been expecting?” they asked. “No,” he answered. 22 They asked one last time, “Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” 23 John replied, using the words of Isaiah the prophet. John said, “I’m the messenger who is calling out in the desert, ‘Make the way for the Lord straight.’” (Isaiah 40:3) 24 Some Pharisees who had been sent 25 asked him, “If you are not the Christ, why are you baptizing people? Why are you doing that if you aren’t Elijah or the Prophet we’ve been expecting?” 26 “I baptize people with water,” John replied. “But One is standing among you whom you do not know. 27 He is the One who comes after me. I am not good enough to untie his sandals.” 28 This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan River. That was where John was baptizing.
I love that John knew exactly who he was, what he was doing and why he was to do it. We’re told that he was completely honest, didn’t evade the questions, nor did he make anything up, he was the one preparing the way for another.
We don’t often think about John having choices here … he could have grabbed the limelight, big noted himself, taken his ‘15 minutes of fame’, had a huge following, he had the leaders of society interested in him, wanting to know his story. But he stayed true. He walked in the calling/ministry that was his, he didn’t try to be someone else (Elijah), or take his place (the Messiah). He is quite the role model of ministry and integrity.
I have never looked at John quite like this before. I am completely impressed. Refreshing to see a man who knows so completely who he is and his place in the ministry he is to do.
Lord, thank you for the example we have in John the baptist, a role model of honesty, integrity, strength of humility & focus, completely relevant for today.
Written by Suzie Hodgson