“Now 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.’” John 1:19-21.
Chapter one now turns to expanding the mission of John the Baptist. In verses 6-8 John was introduced as the one bearing witness to the Christ, the Light of the world.
In the parenthetical verse 15 John gave witness to the eternality of Christ who is the living God who created all things.
“He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.” John 1:15b.
“…and without Him nothing was made that was made.” John 1:3b.
Here in verse 19, we begin to see who John is and his mission in the world. John begins this by making the obvious clear in verse 20, “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.’” John 1:21.
The second question, “Are you Elijah?” is much more legitimate, for the Jews were looking for Elijah.
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.’” Isaiah 40:3.
“’Behold, I send My messenger, and he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple, even the Messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight. Behold, He is coming,’ says the Lord of hosts.” Malachi 3:1.
In both of these quotes it is God whom the messenger, John the Baptist is making a way for; again confirming Christ’s deity.
“In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!’ For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying: ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make His paths straight.”’” Matthew 3:1-3.
“And His disciples asked Him, saying, ‘Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?’ Then Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Elijah truly is coming first and will restore all things. But I say to you that Elijah has come already, and they did not know him but did to him whatever they wished. Likewise the Son of Man is also about to suffer at their hands.’ Then the disciples understood that He spoke to them of John the Baptist.” Matthew 17:10-13.
John did not lie to them when he denied being Elijah. He was not the physical Elijah, but rather came in the Spirit of Elijah; the same Holy Spirit who worked in the hearts of both of these men.
“Are you the Prophet? And he answered, ‘No.’” This Prophet’s identity goes all the way back to the prophet Moses. Hear what he has to say about Him.
“The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear, according to all you desired of the Lord your God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God, nor let me see this great fire anymore, lest I die.’ And the Lord said to me: ‘What they have spoken is good. I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him. And it shall be that whoever will not hear My words, which He speaks in My name, I will require it of him.’” Deuteronomy 18:15-19.
Moses, the greatest prophet of Israel, was a faithful servant in giving the first covenant to Israel. Because they were afraid, it was Moses’ task to receive the Law and in turn give it to the people.
“Now all the people witnessed the thunderings, the lightning flashes, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood afar off. Then they said to Moses, ‘You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die.’” Exodus 20:18-19.
Moses inaugurated the first covenant with the sprinkling of blood.
“Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read in the hearing of the people. And they said, ‘All that the Lord has said we will do, and be obedient.’ And Moses took the blood, sprinkled it on the people, and said, ‘Behold, the blood of the covenant which the Lord has made with you according to all these words.’” Exodus 24:7-8.
But Christ is the Mediator of the new and greater covenant.
“But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second.” Hebrews 8:6-7.
If it could be said reverently, Christ is the second Moses, a Prophet like him who inaugurated the new covenant with the shedding of His own blood.
“For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purged, would have had no more consciousness of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.” Hebrews 10:1-4.
“And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God…” Hebrews 10:11-12.
“For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.” Hebrews 10:14.
“For you have not come to the mountain that may be touched and that burned with fire, and to blackness and darkness and tempest, and the sound of a trumpet and the voice of words, so that those who heard it begged that the word should not be spoken to them anymore.” Hebrews 12:18-19.
“But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.” Hebrews 12:22-24.
God initiated the first covenant by speaking through the prophet Moses; God inaugurated the new covenant by speaking through the Prophet Christ Jesus.
“Then they said to him, ‘Who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?’ He said: ‘I am “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’” as the prophet Isaiah said.’” John 1:22-23.
John’s answer should be given by every servant of Christ, be they a pastor, teacher, evangelist, parent, or child: “I am, the voice of one crying in the wilderness.” John draws no attention to himself; he is just a voice for the Lord, nothing more.
Not, “I am the renowned Pastor John”, “I am the Most Reverent Reverend John”, “I am John pastor, teacher, and evangelist, millions follow me”, “I am author and teacher, John, have you read my books?” Some titles cannot be avoided, but taking them too seriously only leads to a fall.
“Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.” Proverbs 26:12.
“For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.” Romans 12:3.
“A man’s pride will bring him low, but the humble in spirit will retain honor.” Proverbs 29:23.
“Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.” Romans 12:16.
John further showed this attitude of humility when folks came and told him that everyone was leaving him and following Christ. Part of John’s answer is as follows.
“He must increase, but I must decrease.” John 3:30.
For someone to have an, “I am more godly than you.” attitude, hinders the work of the Holy Spirit in the body of Christ. The Apostle John wrote this concerning one man’s hindrance in the church.
“I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to have the preeminence among them, does not receive us. Therefore, if I come, I will call to mind his deeds which he does, prating against us with malicious words. And not content with that, he himself does not receive the brethren, and forbids those who wish to, putting them out of the church. Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. He who does good is of God, but he who does evil has not seen God.” 3 John 1:9-11.
“Now those who were sent were from the Pharisees. And they asked him, saying, ‘Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?’ John answered them, saying, ‘I baptize with water, but there stands One among you whom you do not know. It is He who, coming after me, is preferred before me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose.’ These things were done in Bethabara beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing.” John 1:24-28.
These men appear to be trying to find fault with John’s ministry, for they paid no attention to his quote from Isaiah 40:3, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Make straight the way of the Lord’…”
To take this verse and apply it to himself should have meant something to these men, yet in their unbelief they did not question him about it.
Their unbelief went so far as to question the reason for his baptism, when all they had to do is listen to one of his sermons; something they seemed to be far too busy to do, arrogance.
John’s answer, though seemingly obscure, has some powerful statements in it. “I baptize with water, but there stands One among you whom you do not know.”
This first sentence is sadly prophetic since the Pharisees were among those who led in the rejection of the Christ.
“It is He who, coming after me, is preferred before me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose.” John 1:27.
This is a near exact quote from verse 15 discussed in “We Beheld His Glory” published on 5/26/17.
Jesus Christ is shown as eternally existing because He is preferred before John, and the humility of John is again exhibited by saying that he was not worthy to loose the Lord’s sandal strap, reminding us of another pair of sandals.
“Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian. And he led the flock to the back of the desert, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. So he looked, and behold, the bush burned with fire, but the bush was not consumed. Then Moses said, ‘I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush does not burn.’ So when the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, ‘Moses, Moses!’ and he said, ‘Here I am.’ Then He said, ‘Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.’ Moreover He said, ‘I am the God of your father – the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God.” Exodus 3:1-6.
The same Jesus whose sandal strap John was unworthy to loose, is the same God who was in the burning bush that Moses could not approach shod.
“Jesus said to them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.’” John 8:58.
A Voice, John 1:19-28 taken from godisrevealed.com posted 5-29-12, updated on 5-29-17.
Scripture taken from the New King James version; Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission; all rights reserved.