Thursday, April 07, 2016

"The Ministry of Stepping Aside"

John 1.19-21 NAS

“…the Jews sent to him priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, ‘Who are you?’ 

And he confessed… ‘I am not the Christ.’

The Jews could have accused the Baptist of avoiding the question. They asked John, “Who are you?”, not “Who aren’t you?” John told them who he wasn’t.
  • He wasn’t Christ, the Anointed One, the coming Messiah predicted by Daniel (Daniel 9.25-26).
  • He wasn’t Elijah who would be the Messiah’s forerunner according to the minor prophet Malachi (Malachi 4.5).
  • He wasn’t the “Prophet” promised by Moses (Deuteronomy 18.15-19).
Who did John say he was then?

I am a voice of one crying in the wilderness,
‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as Isaiah the prophet said.”
John 1.23 NAS from Isaiah 40.3

John was nothing more (or less) than “a voice”. “I am a voice”, claimed the Baptist… έγω φωνη' (pronounced ay-go' pho-nay') from which we derive the word ‘phone’. Pick up the phone and listen to a voice. That’s all John claimed to be... “a voice” telling others of Christ. John consistently directed attention away from himself and toward Jesus. He was fond of saying, “He who comes after me has a higher rank than I” (John 1.15, 30). John described Jesus as “He… the thong of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie” (John 1.27). When Jesus Christ asked to be baptized by him, “John tried to prevent Him” feeling unworthy of the honor (Matthew 3.13-14). His was a ‘ministry of stepping aside’ to make room for Jesus Christ who “must increase” while, John claimed, “I must decrease” (John 3.30).

You and I are “not the Christ”. We cannot save ourselves or others. If we think ultimate control of our destiny is our God-given option, we are deluded. At our best, we are nothing more (or less) than “a voice” of hope in a world of hurt. Like John, we may give voice to the truth about Jesus, then step aside and watch Jesus do His work.
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"I am Second" bracelet image from values.com.   

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