John 1:19-28

This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” He confessed and did not deny it, but confessed, “I am not the Messiah.” And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the prophet?” He answered, “No.” Then they said to him, “Who are you? Let us have an answer for 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, “Why then are you baptizing if you are neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?” John answered them, “I baptize with water. Among you stands one whom you do not know, the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal.” This took place in Bethany across the Jordan where John was baptizing. John 1:19-28

“It’s not about you, it’s about Jesus.”

John the Baptizer was clear about that principle. He did what he did because he knew it was what God called him to do.

A long-time reader of these devotions, a retired pastor named George Truett Moore, wrote a book about John the Baptizer entitled “The Scrolls: John’s Voice in the Wilderness.” In that book, partly based on scripture and partly imaginative fiction, John has a deep sense that God is up to something in his life, but he doesn’t fully understand what it is. It isn’t so much that he blunders into his calling, it is more that God continues to reveal it one small step at a time. With a few surprising side steps thrown in to keep the dance interesting.

John points beyond himself. Yes, he drew crowds. Yes, people showed up to hear what he had to say. Yes, he faced opposition. Yes, he paid the ultimate price for his devotion to God’s purposes in the world. The whole time, he knew it wasn’t about him. It was about Jesus.

This is a good lesson for all of us, especially at this time of the year. Various voices in the church get all up in arms in December. People fight about manger scenes in public spaces or the appropriate greetings to share with one another. Congregations pull out all the marketing stops, make preparations for the big Christmas Eve crowd. It is a good time to remember that John the Baptizer pointed to Jesus – thus the focus is not on his finger as the tool that did the pointing, but on the powerful One who was to come.

I get this but sometimes I forget it along the way. Physically, I’m a big guy with a loud voice. Every time I turn around it seems that someone is expecting me to know what to say. This past weekend I wrote five sermons and preached six times. Three funerals and three different Sunday worship services. Over and over again I kept reminding myself, “It’s not about you, it’s about Jesus. Point the people to Jesus.”

We’re not perfect in that. We’re not perfect in anything. We’ll never be Jesus. But we will always be our own god-given versions of John the Baptizer.

Let us pray: Lord, we are so prone to looking for love in all the wrong places. We pin so many of our hopes and aspirations on people, places, and things that can never deliver what we really need. You alone are our hope, our deliverer, our redeemer, our guide, our Savior. May we so clearly keep our focus on you that we are free to point to you in what we think, say, and do. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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One Response to “John 1:19-28”

  1. Gloria Smith-Rockhold Says:

    Right on, as usual. Just keep on being John, the Baptizer. We need that reminder every day. It is about JESUS.

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