15 John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, "This was He of whom I said, 'He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.' " 16 And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him. 19 Now this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, "Who are you?" 20 He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, "I am not the Christ." 21 And they asked him, "What then? Are you Elijah?" He said, "I am not." "Are you the Prophet?" And he answered, "No." 22 Then they said to him, "Who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?" 23 He said: "I am 'The voice of one crying in the wilderness: "Make straight the way of the LORD," ' as the prophet Isaiah said." 24 Now those who were sent were from the Pharisees. 25 And they asked him, saying, "Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?" 26 John answered them, saying, "I baptize with water, but there stands One among you whom you do not know. 27 It is He who, coming after me, is preferred before me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose." 28 These things were done in Bethabara beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing.
Questions to Consider:
Everyone has an ego. We are self-serving creatures by the nature of our existence which takes in data through the senses and then evaluates and stores the data in the over 100 trillion synopsis of the brain. This little self-contained world (the brain) in which we all live often makes it difficult to "see" the value in others. To submit to another person takes "real" humility.
John the Baptist was either incredibly humble or through his prophetic gifts understood who Jesus was. (Perhaps both) As the most powerful and well-known prophet of His time, John deferred to Jesus.
Since many of the Jews were looking for the Messiah, they naturally thought that perhaps John the Baptist was the "one." John made it clear, "I am not the Christ." "Well, then who are you?" They asked. As John responded to the bombardment of questioning, he laid out the purpose of his ministry and calling. v.23 "I am 'The voice of one crying in the wilderness: "Make straight the way of the Lord," 'as the prophet Isaiah said."
The Pharisees pointed out that John was baptizing people, and they questioned his authority to do so--since he was not the Christ. John did not answer their criticism. A wise choice. Trying to convince people concerning your motivations generally has two effects: 1) It comes across as defensive. 2) It does nothing to change their opinion.
John the Baptist then lived out his purpose by telling the Pharisees that the "One" they were looking for would be coming; and that John was not even worthy to help Him take His shoes off. Talk about humility. (Jesus demonstrated the same kind of humility as He washed the disciples' feet)
I you ever visit Bethabara, where Jesus was baptized, you will find a small, murky-looking water hole on the Jordan.
Lead Teaching Elder: