Witness to the Light
John the Baptist was the last of the Old Testament prophets. He was specially appointed by God to announce Jesus as the 'Light of the world'. Although he drew great crowds, John stressed he was not the Light that people should follow. His role, after 400 years of divine silence since Malachi wrote his prophesy, was to command people to repent of their sin and get ready for God's arrival. (The purpose of prophesy is always to draw people back to God's covenant in repentance and faith.) The imagery of light is of understanding the truth, finding the way, and being rescued from the darkness which comes through sin. The light of Jesus was not just for the Jews, but for every human being: it shone during His earthly life but has never been put out. Jesus continues to be the Light that leads us to His eternal kingdom.
John's ministry of preaching and baptising was brief. He was specially conceived for the purpose (Luke 1:17 and 76-79); but after only a short period of ministry he was executed, because he did not hesitate to tell the King that he should also repent of his immorality. But his job had been done. He had alerted the whole nation of Israel. Nobody was in any doubt of his message - the Messiah was coming and they must turn from their evil ways. John brought the light of the Old Testament scriptures back to the national memory, and preached that Jesus was the one who would become the final and complete sacrifice to take away their sin (John 1:29).
John's example is helpful to us. While many people live in darkness all around us, our task is to point people to Jesus who is the Light of the world. The mission of the church is that everybody might believe in Jesus and, as they do so, walk into the light. All of us who have believed, know what is true. We have our hope in Jesus, and we ought to be the witnesses who testify. A witness who keeps silent is still a witness; but if nobody knows, there is no way others will know the truth. So may we have fresh courage today to testify to what we know is true about Jesus, so that people may believe in Him and be released from the trap of darkness.
© Dr Paul Adams