#DailyDevotion Who The Baptist Is Not
John 1. 19When the Jews in Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to John to ask him, “Who are you?” this was John’s testimony. 20He confessed and didn’t deny. He confessed: “I’m not the Christ.” 21“Who are you, then?” they asked him. “Are you Elijah?” “I am not,” he said. “Are you the Prophet?” “No,” he answered. 22 Then they asked him, “Who are you? We want to bring an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” 23He said: “I am a voice calling in the wilderness: ‘Make straight the way for the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.” 24 Some who had been sent belonged to the Pharisees. 25They asked him, “Why, then, do you baptize if you’re not the Christ or Elijah or the Prophet?” 26“I baptize with water,” John answered them. “There is standing among you Someone you don’t know, 27the One Who is coming after me. I’m not good enough to untie His shoe strap.” 28This happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptizing
So the stage is set for the beginning not only of Jesus’ ministry by John but also by those who will oppose Christ. We see here first the priests and Levites coming out to John. Now all priests are Levites so I’m not sure what the distinction is here other than some of the Levites do not always perform the sacrifices at the Temple. Those would generally be reserved for the descendents of Aaron. Nevertheless, as a whole, they represent the cultic (worship) authority.
Now John also was of the Aaronic priesthood as we see his father offering the incense in Luke’s Gospel. Yet John is not doing the priestly thing but the prophetic thing (prophets could come from any tribe). Because John was preaching, baptizing for the forgiveness of sins, and gathering a following from people all across Judea and Jerusalem they were interested in who John was. It was prophesied that at the end of time Elijah would return (remember he was taken up in a fiery chariot). Was John actually Elijah? John tells them he is not Elijah. Moses predicted a prophet like himself would come one day. Was John The Prophet? He is not.
So who is John, what does he say? “I am a voice calling in the wilderness: ‘Make straight the way for the Lord…’” He is just a voice in the wilderness. The Baptist is then who prepares the way for the LORD, Yahweh, Hesham (a name Jews give the LORD, which means the Name). This LORD whose way John the Baptist prepares is Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Born in Bethlehem, a descendent of David by adoption of Joseph and of the flesh of the Woman, Mary, Jesus is the LORD in the flesh, the promised seed of the Woman, Abraham and David.
Now the other Jewish authorities are the Pharisees, who want to know why John is baptizing if he isn’t Elijah, the Prophet or the Christ. By whose authority is the Baptist doing this? John does not answer. Instead he points them to Jesus the Christ. He baptizes with water, but there is coming one they didn’t know who is worthier than John. John is baptizing on the other side of the Jordan. By baptizing there he is telling the Jews they need to repent and start over. Become the Israel of God by passing through the waters of the Jordan again, this time in repentance and faith. Now we don’t need the Jordan to be baptized but we do need to be baptized and repent of our sins to be God’s Israel, one with God’s Israel, Jesus Christ of Nazareth.
Heavenly Father, you sent John to prepare the way for your Son Jesus Christ. As we listen to him, grant us repentance and faith through baptism so we may become your holy people Israel. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.