Summary: The Testimony of John the Baptist reveals that he has the privilege of announcing the Preeminent One at the commencement of Jesus' Ministry.
The Testimony of John the Baptist Concerning Himself: John 1:19-28
We looked at verse 18 last week, and saw that Jesus is the only one who has ever seen the Father, and He is the witness of the fullness of the Father’s character and essence, having always existed with Him. Since ONLY God is eternal, and Jesus existed eternally with the Father, and that He and the Father are ONE, the Father and the Son exist as God, along with the Spirit of God. If you want to know God, listen to the revelation about the Father from the Word and Life of the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Today we pick up at John 1: 19-21 ESV, examining the witness of John the Baptist concerning himself: “This is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent to him priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, "Who are you?" 20 And he confessed and did not deny, but confessed, "I am not the Christ." 21 They asked him, "What then? Are you Elijah?" And he said, "I am not." "Are you the Prophet?" And he answered, "No."
Negative answers to a very pointed question: “Who are you?”
In today’s passage, John, the writer of the Gospel, begins to relate the first week in the ministry of Jesus through chapter 2:11 (It resembles the beginning of Genesis, which narrates the first week of Creation) and the apostle begins by turning his attention to the testimony of John the Baptist, who was born into a priestly family. (His father, Zechariah, was a priest, belonging to the tribe of Levi, and the Baptist was the cousin of Jesus. Both John the Baptist and Jesus were “miracle babies”, babies of promise, born six months apart; Both died in their early 30’s: John’s parents, Zechariah and Elizabeth, like Abraham and Sarah, were older and had never had children; Mary was a virgin and conceived the Son of God miraculously by the Holy Spirit.)
The “Jews from Jerusalem”, here mentioned, most likely refer to the Jewish religious leadership in general, which no doubt included the Pharisees as mentioned in verse 24. They sent representatives to ask “John the Baptist”, who was a very “stand out figure” a very pointed question: “You’re certainly not like the everyday son of a Levite: you’re a non-conformist who teaches and preaches in the desert, you dress like a prophet, you sound like a prophet (you’re baptizing, rebuking and exhorting), and you’re very influential, attracting large crowds wherever you go. WHO ARE YOU? ”
The nation of Israel was longing for liberation from the Romans, and so the leadership, no doubt thought: Maybe this Baptist guy, dressed like a prophet, is the one who will free God’s people, redeem the land and Israel from the Romans. And so they ask John: Who are you? And he immediately admits openly and frankly: I am DEFINITELY NOT the Christ. (Literally, It is NOT I who am the Christ!) With the longing for freedom and the high Messianic expectations that were in the air, John immediately confesses that he is not the long-promised Messiah. the Redeemer of Israel.
They immediately ask: “What then? Are you Elijah? Thinking that perhaps John was the fulfillment of the promise in Malachi 4:5 where it said: “Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD.” John again says: “No! I am not Elijah even though I may resemble Elijah!” I am ministering in the desert regions LIKE ELIJAH. I wear the clothing of a prophet and I live a paltry life like a prophet, but I’m not Elijah. I am LIKE Elijah in a spiritual sense, in that I am calling sinners to repentance before the Holy God, but I am not Elijah, not in the bodily physical sense. Remember that Elijah was a prophet who did not die a natural death but was whisked up to Heaven in a fiery chariot ride. (2 Kings 2:11)
Later Jesus says this about the Baptist in Matthew 11:10-14: “This is the one about whom it is written: "I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.” 11 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. 12 From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it. 13 For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. 14 And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come.”
John also says: Neither am I “THE PROPHET”; In Deuteronomy 18: 15-18, God had given this promise through the words of Moses: "The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me (Moses) from among you, from your brothers--it is to him you shall listen-- 16 just as you desired of the LORD your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, 'Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God or see this great fire any more, lest I die.' 17 And the LORD said to me, 'They are right in what they have spoken. 18 I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.”