Friday, May 30, 2008

It's not about John the Baptist

We studied John 1:19-28 today. A passage we all acknowledge we had not paid much attention to. On the outset, it appears very straightforward but on closer look, there are important lessons to be learnt.

It was never about John
Right from the start, when John the Baptist was questioned by the Jews representatives who he was up to the end when the Pharisees asked about the authority by whom he were baptising.

Take note of John's answers:

Who are you?
I am not the Christ.

Then who are you? Are you Elijah?
I am not.

Are you the Prophet?

Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?"
I am the voice of one calling in the desert, 'Make straight the way for the Lord.'

Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?
I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know. He is the one who comes after me, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.

Every question was directed to John, but each of his answer was directed to Christ. He never talked about himself, not even in the slightest bit. He is not the Christ, not Elijah, not the Prophet. He is only the voice and he is one who is not even worthy to do the most demeaning job of that time, that is to untie the thongs of Christ's sandals.

Was is ever about us?
In application, what does it tell us about ourselves? What do we say when we testify for Christ? Who is the main character? Is it not often that we usually draw attention to what God has done for me? How much he loves me? Where is our focus?

We need to look to John the Baptist as the model of evangelism - it is not about our experience, it is not about how touched we were, it is not about what we feel, it is simply not about us.

It is all about God
Yes, God do love us. But we are not worthy of his love, and so we are in no position to elevate ourselves to a platform to show off ourselves as evidences of God's love. His evidence of love is Christ himself. I am still perplexed by this, how are we not evidences of God's love?

But we cannot deny that we are mere channels, not the star.



  1. Very good. John 1 is one of my favourite chapters of the Bible and makes me "tingle" all over when I read about how the "Word became flesh and dwelt amongs us"... wow.

    But your post is most interesting and I am in total agreement with you that the testimonies of what God has done for us, while good, is not adequate nor complete. What only matters is Jesus Christ and Him crucified for us.

    For this, I am grateful. Eternally.

    By the way, have you seen this?

  2. hehe, what a "splendid" observation (been listening to the English sermon on Psalm 119 you emailed me). by the way, was it [the observation] a during the preparation observation, a last-minute one or on the spot revelation? :P hehe, but true, true. that's a good point. never have thought or seen the passage in that light. thanks!

  3. Hi Danesh,
    So glad to see you here and happy to "meet" another in the family :)

    Yea, John 1's one of my favourites too - I kinda for the fun of it memorise John 1:1 in Greek, which is about the only NT verse I can say in Greek (tho' all the pronunciation would be wrong!! haha) but with what you said, I think I must also do that for v.

    Do you know that "dwelt among us" can also be translated as "tabernacled among us" from Greek? If we remember in OT how God was with the Israelites and how he arranged the tribes surrounding the tent and how the tent moves, and the pillar of fire and cloud ... and now he tabernacled among us in flesh! Doesn't that give you goosebumps :)

  4. Melissa,
    haha -- splendid indeed -- didn't quite remember that -- but re-listen Dick on 119 and find that splendid part.

    This splendid observation happened when I was leading the bible study. This is how we learn more the more we teach ;) The more you have, the more will be given!

  5. Melissa,
    As I have posted today on 2 Tim 2:7 - Dick was saying he wanted to ram this into the heads of the listeners for the listeners to ram it into the head of others. That is when we agonise on the Word of God, God provides the insight. The understanding comes from him - isn't that amazing!

    I am bringing this up here because as I was explaining John the Baptist answers to the Jewish leaders, and jotting it all down on the whiteboard - the understanding just came and I talked about it, and it was reiterated by people in the class. Such is the amazing Word of God. We agonise, He reveals.