Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 198/260: John the Immerser

Read John 1:6-8, 19-28

“Who Are You?”

“There was a man sent from God, whose name was John” (John 1:6) Those words by the apostle John introduce another John, know as “the Baptist,” “the Baptizer,” or “the Immerser.” He was the forerunner prophesied by Malachi, born about six months prior to Jesus. The apostle makes it clear that John was not himself “the Light,” but was sent “to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe” (John 1:7).

When word of John’s activities reached Jerusalem, the religious elite wanted to find out more. They asked him, “Who are you?” (John 1:19). John did not want to mislead anyone. He did not want them to think that he was the promised Messiah, and promptly stated, “I am not the Christ” (John 1:20). The Jews then asked if he was Elijah. They believed Elijah himself would return before the Messiah, misunderstanding the prophecy that spoke of one with the spirit of Elijah who would come first (Malachi 4:5). Again, John answered in the negative.

The priests and Levites then asked, “Are you the Prophet?” (John 1:21). This was really nothing more than asking him again if he was the Christ, which he had already denied. Moses had spoken of “a Prophet like me…Him you shall hear” (Deuteronomy 18:15-18). This was a prophecy of the Messiah; the priests and Levites were perhaps trying to trip John up in his answers, much like many news reporters who reword their questions in an attempt to confuse their subjects, trying to get them to contradict themselves.

John would not fall for their trap and again denies that he is the Christ, or “the Prophet.” His questioners press him for an answer. “Who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?” (John 1:22). John answers not with his own words, but the inspired words of God given through Isaiah: “I am ‘the voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Make straight the way of the Lord”’” (John 1:23; cf. Isaiah 40:3).

When someone asks you, “Who are you?”, could you respond with Scripture? What Scriptures best describe you? We are not prophesied forerunners like John, but we should still be able to see the Lord working in our lives through the Word.

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