“No one greater born among women” “Prophet of the Most High” “The Elijah Who Was To Come” These are pretty lofty compliments and titles for John the Baptist. He was considered a great prophet sent by the Lord. You’ll find some disciples of his even in the book of Acts, decades after the events of the Gospels. In fact, did you know that there are still followers of John the Baptist to this day in the Middle East?
But how did he view himself? Some representatives of the religious leaders came to see this new teacher and find out what he was claiming and if he was going to be a threat to their establishment. Their questions to him and his direct answers provide some insight into this man.
First and foremost, he wanted to make it perfectly clear that he was not the Messiah. The phrase “confessed freely” is very emphatic. He didn’t hem and haw about it: He wanted to squash that rumor and speculation in its cradle. Then they asked him if he was the return of Elijah (who'd been taken up to heaven without dying), and he denied it. Then they asked him if he was the "Prophet" (which Moses had predicted), and again he denied it, especially since Moses was referring to the Messiah in that passage.
This might raise a question in some peoples’ minds: If he wasn’t Elijah, then why did Jesus say John was in Matt. 11:7-15? Because he was the fulfillment of the last verses of Malachi, and he had come in the spirit and power of Elijah.
So how did he view himself? He was nothing but a voice, an announcer for the coming Messiah. He was there for one main purpose: to point people towards Jesus, which meant that people had to get ready for him. We’ll talk more about his attitude towards Christ tomorrow. But for now we need to focus on his lifetime goal, which should be ours as well.
What can we learn from his example? When someone pays us a compliment, do we soak it up like a sponge? I know I do at times. But what I need to do--what we all need to do--is use that as an opportunity to point others towards our Savior.
Lord Jesus, may every word I speak, every action I take, everything about me point people towards you, never away from you. You're worthy of all the attention I can muster.
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