He is the One

John the Baptizer said: “I did not recognize Jesus as the Messiah, but I have been baptizing with water so that he might be revealed to Israel.” Then John testified: “I saw the Holy Spirit descending like a dove from heaven and resting upon him. I didn’t know he was the one, but when God sent me to baptize with water, he told me: The one on whom you see the Spirit descend and rest is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.” – John 1:31-33

Isn’t it interesting how hard it is for us to see some things because we are too familiar with them? Jesus’ brothers and sisters didn’t recognize him as God’s Son until after his resurrection. The people in his village didn’t expect anything of importance from him. They missed who Jesus was! But we are promised that if we seek after him, we will find him. If we look at his teaching, we can determine that he comes from God. If we open the door to him, he will come in and share our lives. If we obey him, he will come and make his home with us. If we receive him, we can be born into the Kingdom of God. So the test for each of us is pretty simple: Do I seek Jesus or am I seeking something else — a teaching, a doctrine, a religion? If we seek the latter things, we can know a lot about Jesus, but never really know HIM. So let’s seek Jesus and his new way of life in the Spirit! As we continue to read John together this year, let’s always ask God to reveal Jesus clearly to us. Father, help me know Jesus more powerfully and more fully as I study his life and seek to reflect his character in my daily life. Please show yourself to me just as you promised. Open my eyes so that I can see your work clearly in my life and praise you fully with my heart. Jesus, please let me come to know you and not just know about you. John 7:1-5, 16-17 – John 1:10-13 – John 5:39-40

He is Greater by Far

About Jesus, John the Baptizer said: “He is the one I was talking about when I said: A man is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me.” – John 1:30

What John says in this verse sounds kind of like a broken record (John 1:15, 22-23, 26-27). John the Baptizer doesn’t falter or fail in this testimony about Jesus. He remains faithful and true to his task of pointing others to Jesus. He praises Jesus’ greatness and trumpets the need of all people to repent (Matthew 3:1-2). He tries to prepare hearts for the Kingdom of God. John the Baptizer shows us faithfulness over the long haul — faithfulness to God, faithfulness to the truth, faithfulness to his mission, and most of all, faithfulness to the Savior and his Kingdom. May such faithfulness be ours! Father, forgive me for my unfaithfulness. Renew a steadfast spirit in me and rekindle my resolve to live faithfully for Jesus throughout all my days. 2 Corinthians 4:5-7 – Luke 3:15-16 – John 1:15

Lamb of God

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said: “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” – John 1:29

Animal sacrifice seems so foreign, maybe even cruel, in our day. Yet it was God’s way of helping people know that their sin was costly, injurious, and serious. Their sin didn’t impact just them, but it touched all they influenced and damaged their relationship with God. Taking a lamb from their own flock — something precious and of great value to them — cost them, hurt them, and opened their eyes to the seriousness of their rebellion and failure. However, when it came time for God to redeem us, to deal with our sin once and for all, he didn’t ask us to offer something that cost us greatly. No, he furnished the sacrifice at great cost to himself. That Lamb of God, that sacrifice for our sins, is Jesus. John’s words remind us that from the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, he was God’s Lamb. He came to save, redeem, and ransom us from sin. He is the Lamb of God. So at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, John the Baptizer’s words invite us to “Look!” and see the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” If we watch, and listen, and open our hearts, we will see the Lamb. Father, thank you for providing the sacrifice that paid for my sins. Give me a deep sense of sorrow for my sin and a deep sense of wonder for your grace that provided the sacrifice for my sins and the gift of my salvation. To you belong all thanks, honor, and praise, now and forevermore. 1 John 2:1-2 – 1 Peter 1:18-21 – Revelation 7:10

Real Places Real People Real Savior

John told them: “I baptize with water, but right here in the crowd is someone you do not recognize. Though his ministry follows mine, I’m not even worthy to be his slave and untie the straps of his sandal.” This encounter took place in Bethany, an area east of the Jordan River, where John was baptizing. – John 1:26-28

If we are not careful, we can find ourselves looking at the story of Jesus as we view a work of good fiction. In his gospel, John wants us to know that his account of Jesus is more than just a good tale. It is a story about real places, real people, and a real Savior. Yes, there was real water for baptism. There was a real city around which all of these things involving John the Baptizer happened. There were real, everyday people who came to this place along the Jordan River to open their hearts to the Kingdom of God. Soon, John reminds both them and us, there will be a real Savior on the scene. God will walk among us as Jesus. He will get the dust of the streets on his feet. He will be so great that John said he was not worthy to do the most menial work of a slave — kneel down, unlatch his sandals, and clean his feet. Dirt, sweat, feet, rivers, people, cities, crowds, real people, real Savior, real Jesus! O what wondrous love you’ve shown, O God, by sending your perfect Son to live in my imperfect world. O what wondrous grace you’ve given, dear Father, when you allowed yourself to be soiled by the dust of my existence so that I could live for the praise of your glory. I praise you. I thank you. I love you. John 3:16-17 – Philippians 2:5-11 – Matthew 3:13-14

What Right Do You Have to Baptize

Then the Pharisees who had been sent asked John the Baptizer: “If you aren’t the Messiah or Elijah or the Prophet, what right do you have to baptize?” – John 1:24-25

What right do you have to do what you do? That’s a good question, especially for those of us who are blessed with freedom. We take for granted our right to do what we do. Behind this question, however, stands a powerful truth: We have the right to do what we do only because God in his grace has granted us that right. John did what he did because God had called him to the task. John had the opportunities he had because God opened the doors for them. John had the effective ministry he had because he did what God wanted him to do. John’s right to baptize, preach, teach, and prepare was given him by God. More than just the right to do these things, he had the authority of God to do them. God has great plans for us also. He calls us to his purposes. He has given us the right as his children to bring light to this dark world. Let’s use our God-given rights to our Father’s glory! Father, thank you for giving me the right to be your child. Inspire me to bold and courageous living for the sake of the Kingdom and the cause of the Gospel. Please give me a heart as fearless and true as your great servant John the Baptizer. John 1:12 – 1 Peter 2:9-10 – Psalm 139:16