Tuesday 21 February 2012

Bible Book:

"John answered them, 'I baptise 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'." (vv. 26-27)

John 1:19-28 Tuesday 21 February 2012


Have you ever been mistaken for someone else? John the Baptistcame with powerful preaching and a compelling message. He was oftenmistaken for the Messiah, or as some called it, the Light. But Johnthe Gospel writer is keen to say that the Baptist was not the Light- he came to testify to someone else.

John the Baptist operated in the wilderness and the area around theRiver Jordan, and was not always easy to identify, or pin down. Andso, when a delegation was sent from the Pharisees (the Jewishreligious leaders) to question him, it begins like a sharpinterrogation (verse 19) ... "Who are you?"

John's response suggests he knew what they were thinking and so hereplied "I am not the Messiah". Well, that narrows it down a bit!Two more guesses! The religious authorities knew there wassomething deeply significant, godly and prophet-like about him. AndIsrael had a shortlist of heaven-sent agents it was waitingfor.

"Are you Elijah?" they offered. Strange question! The prophetElijah had lived around 900 years previously, and never actuallydied (he was taken up to heaven in a whirlwind - 2 Kings2:9-12). But in the last verses of the Old Testament, theprophet Malachi prophesied his return (Malachi4:5-6). Good man to be mistaken for, but John might think heneeds to try a new moisturiser!

"Are you the prophet?" they ask him next. This mysterious characterwas spoken of in Deuteronomy 18:15-22- a second Moses? But Johndenies this too. So who is he? Well, John does identify himselfwith an Old Testament prophet, and utters words that come at animportant turning point in the book of Isaiah (chapter40, verse 3).

Dissatisfied with this response, they question his practice ofbaptism, as if this is evidence to the contrary. Not that any ofthose characters were predicted to baptise when they came - thiswas an unexpected practice. But John did so with such powerfuleffect - getting such a great response from the people as heprepared them for the one who was to come - that surely only one ofthe aforementioned prophets would have such authority. But John isclear on his role, and the limited scope of his work. Hisquestioners have been looking in the wrong place and asking thewrong questions. "Among you stands one whom you do not know" saidJohn. The 'presence' of the Lord was among them. They just didn'tsee him. Or know him.

To Ponder

In the midst of confusion in life, or in times ofsearching for who-knows-what, could it be that God is closer thanyou think? How might you know?

How can we lead people who are searching andquestioning to find the presence of the Lord?

How often do we, in the Church, sometimes believethat 'Church' is what people need, rather than 'testifying to theLight' and pointing them to Christ? How might we change ourbehaviour?

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