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Confessing that Jesus is Lord

John 1:19-23
Now this was John's testimony when the Jews of Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, "I am not the Christ." They asked him, "Then who are you? Are you Elijah?" He said, "I am not." "Are you the Prophet?" He answered, "No." Finally they said, "Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?" John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, "I am the voice of one calling in the desert, 'Make straight the way for the Lord.' " (NIV)

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.

Dear Father God. Thank You for having given Jesus the highest place of authority over everything and everybody. I am sorry when I have presumed the right of independent authority to suit my own purposes. Please forgive me for accepting Satan’s lies. Please help me to understand the awesome majesty of my Lord and Saviour and His requirement that I should humbly serve Him in whatever way He shall choose. In His Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams