Last posts in this series
- The Gospel of St John – Light of the world
- The Gospel of John – Jesus at Creation
- The Gospel of John – Introduction
Welcome back to the series on the The Gospel of John. Sharing the Gospel with others is a direct commandment from Jesus. “19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” Matthew 28:19. What does it mean to make disciples of all men? We will get into that later in this series. I have been sharing the Gospel on my YouTube channel for a while now, and also sharing with people directly.
There is just something that I find really special about sharing the Gospel one small part at a time. Not only does it make it easier for you, the reader, to follow and understand, but it gives me such a sense of enjoyment and peace being able to do this.
8 In peace I will lie down and sleep,
for you alone, Lord,
make me dwell in safety
John the Baptist Denies Being the Messiah
19 Now this was John’s testimony when the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. 20 He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, “I am not the Messiah.”
21 They asked him, “Then who are you? Are you Elijah?”
He said, “I am not.”
“Are you the Prophet?”
He answered, “No.”
22 Finally they said, “Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?”
23 John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’”
24 Now the Pharisees who had been sent 25 questioned him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?”
26 “I baptize with water,” John replied, “but among you stands one you do not know. 27 He is the one who comes after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.”
28 This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptizing.
Here we have a conversation between John the Baptist and the local religious leaders. Specifically, these in verse 19 are the legalistic Pharisees (John 1:24). Some Pharisees were extremely devout, but had a tendency to be cold and arrogant. It was completely fair for the Pharisees to question the Baptist. John’s ministry must have been quite popular or challenging to attract official investigation. Investigating a strange message was a good step, but their search doesn’t seem to be very sincere. Baptising converts to Judaism was common, but the Baptist was calling on Jews to repent and be baptised. The Baptist makes it clear that he is not the “Promised One,” but equally clear that his mission is to prepare the way for that One.
John Testifies About Jesus
29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.”
32 Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. 33 And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.”
John immediately describes Jesus as “The Lamb of God.” when He sees Him coming. Lambs were required as a yearly sacrifice for all Jewish families for their sins, this was the Passover celebration. The connection to the Passover is the primary reason Jesus is referred to as “The Lamb of God” and Jesus’ crucifixion would save us from our sins permanently.
John’s mission was to make the path clear for Jesus. Because the Baptist was not the Messiah, he pointed all attention and honour towards Jesus, rather than himself. He had gone so far as to say he wasn’t worthy to untie the Promised One’s sandals (John 1:27). John also repeats that Jesus “was before me,” a reference to Jesus’ divinity. Remember, John was born several months before Jesus, and yet, he knows that Christ existed before he did, as God (John 1:1). John can now finally say “He’s here!”
John’s purpose in calling people to repentance, demonstrated by baptism, was to open the path of understanding for Jesus. Once Christ appeared, it was time for John to step aside.
John saw a vision of a dove, representative of the Holy Spirit, descend and remain on Jesus. In other Gospel accounts, it is recorded that John baptised Jesus and a dove descended on Him. This confirmed for John that Jesus was the Messiah.
John makes the point of mentioning that Jesus has come to baptise with the Holy Spirit, in contrast to his own ministry of water baptism. This spiritual baptism would not be complete until the day of Pentecost, after Jesus’ resurrection.
John has already told the people what he saw. Finally, he testifies to something he has seen with his own eyes. This personal testimony is important as Jesus refers to it later, when explaining why people ought to believe Him, one piece of evidence Jesus mentions is the testimony John the Baptist (John 5:32–33).