Confessing that Jesus is Lord
John the Baptist attracted much attention. Even though he was preaching and baptising repentant people in a remote part of Israel, many knew about him and travelled to hear him. But he posed a threat to the religious establishment: “Who does he think he is?!” they asked. So they sent a delegation of religious lawyers to interrogate him. John had nothing to hide and answered their questions, “I am not the Christ”. That prompted more questions about his identity.
They wondered if he was Elijah come back to earth, (as he had been taken up in a whirlwind 700 years previously, see 2 Kings 2:1-18). Or perhaps he was the Prophet who was described by Moses (Deuteronomy 18:15-18 actually referred to Jesus). But John was neither of these and he said so; although he ministered in the same spirit and power as Elijah (Luke 1:17) and in that sense he fulfilled Malachi 4:5. So they asked John to admit his identity and by what authority he preached and baptised. He then identified himself with the prophecy in Isaiah 40:3. His role was to call God’s people to repent over breaking His covenant and to prepare them for God’s arrival.
Identity matters. John knew who he was – uniquely appointed to herald the arrival of God the Son. John knew that he had no mandate to advance his own popularity, or to preach his own ideas. His sole responsibility was to bring people to repentance, and to baptise those who were eager for God’s forgiveness. That is a proper humility. He was a man who knew his place in relation to Jesus: as John said in John 3:30, “He [Jesus] must become greater; I must become less.” Whatever your role in Christ’s church or whatever ministry you exercise, Jesus Christ is always Lord and you are not! The fault of Satan was that he wanted to take God’s place and he still tempts people to do the same. The best way to deal with that temptation is to be sure that we make much of Jesus and little of ourselves, humbly submitting to Him.
© Dr Paul Adams