25 June 2014

John 1:19-34

β€œHe said, ’I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.” (v. 23)


The religious authorities were unsettled by this strange man who was attracting a huge band of followers and starting some new ritual which involved dunking people in the river. The Pharisees sent some priests and Levites to find out who he is and John the Baptist began by making it clear who he is not! He is not the Messiah and he is not Elijah: this made it really hard for the priests and Levites - who on earth is this man, what is he doing and why are people following him?

John the Baptist quoted the words of the prophet Isaiah to explain who he was, he was the "voice" whose job it was to get people ready to receive the "Word". It is interesting to note that in the same passage from Isaiah the prophet speaks of the grass withering but the Word of God standing for ever (Isaiah 40:1-8). By quoting this passage the Gospel is making a strong connection with John 1:1-18 (see also yesterday's notes). John the Baptist was getting everything ready for the coming of the Word made flesh and he has an important part to play in preparing the way for Jesus. I wonder if the priests and Levites were left any clearer about who this man is and what he is doing?

Now Jesus appears on the scene (verse 29), but this is not the first time these two men have met. While the Baptism of Jesus is not described in this gospel, John the Baptist was able to tell his followers what happened (verses 32-34). It was this experience that confirms for John the Baptist that Jesus was the one he is waiting for. Jesus is the Word who was always with God, who was always God, yet is now the Word made flesh, a human being. This is the man the religious authorities need to be concerned about!

To Ponder

  • What do you think is involved in "preparing the way" for Jesus in today's world?
  • When you think of Jesus as "the Word made flesh" what comes to mind? 

Bible notes author

The Revd Diane Clutterbuck

Diane is an ordained presbyter in the Methodist Church. She works as as a coach, supervisor and trainer mainly in the public and voluntary sectors with people and organisations who are committed to growth and development.