The Gospel of John: a commentary & meditation 
"The Christ ...the thong of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie"


Scripture: John 1:19-28

19 And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, "Who are you?" 20 He confessed, he did not deny, but confessed, "I am not the Christ." 21 And they asked him, "What then? Are you Elijah?" He said, "I am not." "Are you the prophet?" And he answered, "No." 22 They said to him then, "Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?" 23 He said, "I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, `Make straight the way of the Lord,' as the prophet Isaiah said." 24 Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. 25 They asked him, "Then why are you baptizing, if you are neither the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?" 26 John answered them, "I baptize with water; but among you stands one whom you do not know, 27 even he who comes after me, the thong of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie." 28 This took place in Bethany beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing.

Meditation: "Who are you?" John the Baptist had no difficulty answering this question when the authorities came to investigate him. If someone challenged your identity -- both naturally and spiritually, how would you answer? There's an identity war going on today and many are in crisis or at least confused. We can try to manufacture identity, but it's derived.  And its true source and maker is God who made us in his image and likeness. Why did the Jewish leaders question John the Baptist's identity?  They were in earnest to know if the Messiah had come.  They wanted to know if John claimed to be the Messiah or one of the great prophets who was expected to return at the coming of the Messiah (see Malachi 4:5, Deuteronomy 18:15). John had no mistaken identity.  In all humility and sincerity he said he was only a voice bidding people to prepare the way for the coming of the King. John the Baptist bridges the Old and New Testaments. He is the last of the Old Testament Prophets who points the way to the Messiah. He is the first of the New Testament witnesses and martyrs. He is the herald who prepares the way for Jesus and who announces his mission to the people: Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!  John saw from a distance what the Messiah came to accomplish our redemption from slavery to sin and our adoption as sons and daughters of God, our heavenly Father.  Do you recognize your identity as a child of God and a citizen of heaven?

John was the greatest of the prophets, yet he lived as a humble and faithful servant of God. He pointed others to Jesus, Messiah and Savior of the world. The Christian church from the earliest of times has given John many titles which signify his mission: Witness of the Lord, Trumpet of Heaven, Herald of Christ, Voice of the Word, Precursor of Truth, Friend of the Bridegroom, Crown of the Prophets, Forerunner of the Redeemer, Preparer of Salvation, Light of the Martyrs, and Servant of the Word. Do you point others to Christ by your witness and example?

"Lord Jesus, make me a herald of your word of truth and grace. Help me to be a faithful witness of the joy of the gospel and to point others to you as John did through his testimony."


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(c) 2001 Don Schwager