come near!” (Matt. 3:2; Luke 3:3) Prophecies in Isaiah were foretold about him. (Is. 40) His birth was considered miraculous. (Luke 1) Even hearers of his message mistook him for the Coming Messiah. (Luke 3) When he quickly informed them he was not the Messiah, those around him asked, “Who are you, then?” (John 1:22) He simply answered them by stating his calling and telling the good news of the Coming Savior. “I am a voice of one crying out in the wilderness: Make straight the way of the Lord…He is the One coming after me, whose sandal strap I’m not worthy to untie.” (John 1:23, 26) John knew his earthly purpose, but more importantly, he knew of the heavenly plan through Jesus. This is why John acknowledges Jesus by saying, “Here is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the One I told you about: ‘After me comes a man who has surpassed me, because He existed before me.’” (John 1:29-30)
We don’t know a whole lot about John’s life other than, “The child grew up and became spiritually strong and he was in the wilderness until the day of his public appearance to Israel.” (Luke 1:80) John’s ministry purpose was short-lived, only about a year of his life, before he was put in prison unjustly and beheaded shortly thereafter by those in authority. (Matt. 14) Most of what we know about John is related to that brief time period of his ministry calling. He was not put in prison until after Jesus began His 3-year earthly ministry. John knew his own calling from God, obeyed Him, and completed that purpose; yet his main focus was pointing others to the Savior. John knew who he was in the presence of Jesus and expressed that in John 3:30, “He must increase, but I must
While John was in prison he asked his disciples to find Jesus and ask Him, “Are You the One who is to come, or should we look for someone else?” (Luke 7:20). Such a question elicited a reassuring response from Jesus to be delivered to John that He indeed was the One who was foretold about and has come. Jesus could have stopped there, as John’s disciples quickly left to return to John to deliver this message. However, the gospel of Luke records that Jesus then spoke specifically about John to the crowd He had been teaching.
John did not hear the final words said about him by Jesus, his Savior, before his last breath in prison. Yet, I couldn’t help but notice how these final words read like a pre-death eulogy, if you will, as Jesus knew John’s earthly life would soon end. Jesus spoke these words about John the Baptizer in Luke 7:27-28. “This is the one it is written about: ‘Look, I am sending My messenger ahead of You; he will prepare Your way before You.’ I tell you, among those born of women no one is greater than John, but the least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” Jesus informed those listening that John had fulfilled the purpose he had been created for, but there was a greater kingdom purpose at hand beyond the life of John. I believe John understood that and he focused on God’s kingdom purpose as he lived out his calling, even though his ministry and life ended differently than he probably expected or planned. John’s earthly life’s voyage glorified God in pointing the way to Jesus and caused the good news of the gospel to
Can that be said of you? If not, who are you then? Is your life’s journey pointing the way to the Savior as you share the good news of the gospel? For if the kingdom of heaven has come near as John said, then all we do must be all about JESUS.