Proclaiming the Truth
John testifies concerning him. He cries out, saying, “This is he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.'” (John 1:15)
Here we have John the apostle expressing for us the continuous testimony of John the Baptist. The Old Testament prophets constantly cried aloud pointing people to an awareness of their sins, yet John the Baptist came crying aloud pointing people to the awareness of their Savior.
-John Charles Ryle
Not at all blending with the world, dining on wild honey and locusts, donned in camel’s hair and leather, he came preaching repentance in the desert, proclaiming the kingdom of heaven was near and baptizing in the Jordan. He was a clarion call to the Lord’s people in the driest desert of life to prepare them for the coming of their Savior. Just as Isaiah the prophet had prophesied:
-Joseph Stowell, III
A voice of one calling: “In the desert prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God. (Isaiah 40:3)
“It was an open public testimony, proclaimed, that all manner of persons might take notice of it. He was free and hearty in bearing this testimony. He cried out as one who was both well assured of the truth to which he witnesses and well affected toward it.” (Matthew Henry)
Are we well assured of the truth to which we bear witness and are we well affected toward it? This is how John the Baptist impacted his world for Jesus. This is how we impact our world for Jesus. We who know the truth must proclaim it to those who may be in the driest desert of life.
John the Baptist constantly pointed to Jesus. Indeed our verse for today marks this truth: “He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.”
Of course John the Baptist’s most humble statement in this regard is found in John 3:30: “He must become greater; I must become less.” It is not about us; rather it is all about Jesus. And as he pointed to Jesus, John did not try to blend with the world. He was in the world but the world was not in him. Jesus prays for His disciples in the same manner: My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.
Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. (John 17:15-18). John knew the truth and he was not afraid to speak it.
Our world is determined to intimidate, marginalize, and silence Christians. But our goal isn’t popularity; it’s to know Him and make Him known. We shouldn’t be needlessly offensive, but we shouldn’t be afraid of the ‘offense of the cross.’ These are exciting days in which to bear a witness for our Savior!” (Robert J. Morgan)
Take It to Heart
“The true Christian cannot be hid, he cannot escape notice. A man truly living and functioning as a Christian will stand out. He will be like salt; he will be like a city set on a hill, a candle set upon a candlestick. But we can also add this further word. The true Christian does not even desire to hide his light. He sees how ridiculous it is to claim to be a Christian and yet deliberately to try to hide the fact.
Not only that; he does not desire to conceal it, because he argues thus, ‘Ultimately the object and purpose of it all is that I might be functioning in this way’”. (Martin Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount)