19This was John’s testimony when the Jewish leaders sent priests and Temple assistants from Jerusalem to ask John, “Who are you?”20He came right out and said, “I am not the Messiah.”
21“Well then, who are you?” they asked. “Are you Elijah?”
“No,” he replied.
“Are you the Prophet we are expecting?”
22“Then who are you? We need an answer for those who sent us. What do you have to say about yourself?”
23John replied in the words of the prophet Isaiah:
“I am a voice shouting in the wilderness,
‘Clear the way for the Lord’s coming!’ ”
24Then the Pharisees who had been sent25asked him, “If you aren’t the Messiah or Elijah or the Prophet, what right do you have to baptize?”
26John told them, “I baptize with water, but right here in the crowd is someone you do not recognize.27Though his ministry follows mine, I’m not even worthy to be his slave and untie the straps of his sandal.”
28This encounter took place in Bethany, an area east of the Jordan River, where John was baptizing.
The Old Testament led the people of the time to believe the prophet Elijah would return before the Messiah came. Elijah brought the nation of Israel back to God in dramatic fashion. He was radical, and radically successful. John the Baptist was not Elijah, but he was a prophet in that same spirit as Elijah. He certainly was radical and he called the people to return to God. The fact that the Pharisees were questioning him means people were listening to him. Jesus identified John as being like Elijah in the transfiguration story. The “Prophet” they asked John about would have been Isaiah. When Jews refer to “The Prophet” that is who they mean.
So what we see here, is that the leaders were totally confused about who John was. They didn’t know what to think of him. He was this crazy guy out by the river.
But John knew exactly who he was. He had a huge following, but he saw himself as the lowest of slaves. He knew he was just a voice in the desert trying to get people ready for the coming of the real thing. He knew his mission and he was radical about completing it. He didn’t care what he ate or wore or who he confused or made mad. He just wanted to get people ready for the Messiah.
Lord, help me be that clear and that radical about your mission for me. Help me understand how lowly I am and how unimportant the things of this world are compared to completing your purpose for me here on earth. Use me, if it is your will, to prepare others for Your coming into their lives. Change me Lord. *obbs*