Becoming a Witness to the True Light
There was a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. (John 1:6-9)
A shooting star sent forth from God to shatter the darkness of sin by shedding light in preparation for Jesus to shine, John the Baptist came as a witness to the true light. This witness was prophesized by Isaiah and subsequently applied by each gospel writer to John the Baptist–the forerunner of Christ:
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)
John the Baptist was equipped and commissioned by God for this special ministry of pointing the people from the error of their ways to the truth of Jesus. He had a specific message, addressed to specific recipients, intended to elicit a specific response. He came with a call to repentance for those wallowing in the wasteland of life, pointing them to their need for a Savior.
At his birth, John’s father Zechariah states the following regarding his son’s life’s work:
And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.” (Luke 1:76-79)
“One of the keynotes in John’s thoughts regarding Jesus is that Jesus is the Light of the World. It means that Jesus, as the Light of the World, is the One who makes clear the Meaning and Destiny of Human Existence. Jesus was God’s expression of Himself. Jesus was God. Jesus was God’s Message to Mankind.” (Halley’s Bible Handbook)
Jesus Himself gives us the following information regarding John the Baptist:
John was a lamp that burned and gave light, and you chose for a time to enjoy his light. (John 5:35)
Certainly, John proves to be a wonderful example of Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew regarding our lights:
“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16)
Later in the book of Matthew, Jesus also said:
I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it. For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come. (Matthew 11:11-15)
Our lights were meant to shine forth giving direction and pointing others to the proper path!
“John was only a lamp, not the true Light. The Jewish nation for a short time was stirred by and rejoiced in his ministry. For a moment they thought the Messianic Age was dawning. Even though his preaching had some stinging rebukes, there was a great popular excitement about his message. The people thought that though Israel might be disciplined, their enemies would be destroyed.” (Bible Knowledge Commentary)
What a wonderful example the John the Baptist set for all in ministry–always pointing to Jesus and not to himself. Indeed, his greatness and humility shine forth clearly through his words as we discover in chapter three of John:
To this John replied, “A man can receive only what is given him from heaven. You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Christ but am sent ahead of him.’ The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less. (John 3:27-30)
Take It to Heart
-St. Ignatius Loyola
John the Baptist was sent to prepare for the arrival of the Messiah. He baptized with water and Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit–this was the set divine order of things and one with which John was comfortable. When Jesus’ popularity began to grow and John began to shrink, John joyfully accepted God’s plan. When the King arrived was no further need of the herald. Every believer should have such a mindset as this. It is not about us; rather it is all about Jesus.
“Every Christian life ought to be a force among men, a witness for Jesus and an influence for blessing and good. I know that there are few people like Billy Graham, whom God calls to do great things for Him. For men like me, and perhaps you, the best thing that we can do in the small time allotted to us in this world is to live out a genuine, simple, beautiful, strong Christian life. In our little measure we can repeat the life of the Lord Himself, doing in our imperfect way a few of the wonderful things He would do if He were Himself in our place.” (Wales Goebel)