John the Baptist.

John the Baptist was the first prophet to speak God's word for hundreds of years. This providential delay in revelation heightened anticipation among the Jews for the coming Messiah. John the Baptist broke the silence with a powerful, influential, successful voice, because God determined it to be so. He preached a message of repentance and led a simple life.

John's Explanation to the Religious Unbelievers

Religious leaders questioned John, and he answers with an explanation of himself and of Christ (John 1:19-28). John's ministry was preaching and baptizing. He had a spiritual purpose to tell people they needed to know Christ (verse 26). He quickly deflects attention off himself to Jesus. He consistently displays an attitude of humble service.

In John 1:29, John urges the religious to consider who Jesus is. They would have understood his reference to the Old Testament's temporary covering for sin in his use of the word "lamb." John described Jesus as "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world," not just the Jews. Jesus' atonement would do away with ritual sacrifice, and He would be the Savior for all people.

John's ministry of baptism showed unbelievers their need to repent. No one can worship Jesus as king until they submit to Him as Savior.

John's Exaltation of Christ

John 1:23 uses a word that described Roman victory parades for conquerors. Sometimes these ornate processions would even have new roads built for them. John the Baptist is the voice that prepares the way for the Christ. This news would go to the Jews first, then the rest of the world (verse 31). The Spirit poured out and remaining on Jesus was evidence that He was the Son of God and Savior of the world. John uses words in the past perfect tense, "have seen and testified," because the matter for him was done and settled.

Application Points

  • God has a plan for you to be spiritually influential just as He planned for John the Baptist. Embrace material simplicity if God has ordained that for you. Embrace your God-given purpose, and be faithful to Him in obeying it.
  • Has your way of life distracted you from living with spiritual intention? Are you content? Is your conscience clear about your use of your spiritual gifting to serve the body of Christ?
  • Does "humble service" describe your attitude? How can you emulate John the Baptist in John 1:27?

Tools for Further Study

Cross References to Explore
  • Luke 7:24-28 – Jesus' testimony about John the Baptist.
  • Philippians 4:11-13, 1 Timothy 6:6-8, James 4:1-10 – Be content with what you have.
  • Isaiah 53:11, Jeremiah 11:19, Genesis 22:13-14, Leviticus 16:7-10 – Old Testament references to covering over sin
  • Isaiah 42:1, 61:1, Ezekiel 36:25-26 – Old Testament promises of the Spirit