8/2/22 Devotional from Ed
August 2, 2022
Text: John 1:19-28
This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, "Who are you?" He confessed and did not deny it, but confessed, "I am not the Messiah." And they asked him, "What then? Are you Elijah?" He said, "I am not." "Are you the prophet?" He answered, "No." Then they said to him, "Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?" He said, "I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, 'Make straight the way of the Lord,'" as the prophet Isaiah said. Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. They asked him, "Why then are you baptizing if you are neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?" John answered them, "I baptize with water. Among you stands one whom you do not know, the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal." This took place in Bethany across the Jordan where John was baptizing.
Ellen will be teaching this Sunday's edition of "Bible basics" to our elementary children, a class that I know she's excited about leading. It's fun to see our children get excited about the Bible!
Over the past four weeks, we've quickly covered many of the themes and stories in the Old Testament, and we finally reached the four gospels last Sunday. This Sunday, Ellen plans to go over the gospels again, and when she and I were talking yesterday, she mentioned that she's going to stress that each of the gospels are different. Today's text is a reminder that the gospels are written and told by people with their own perspective and own view of what's important to know about John the Baptist, Jesus, the disciples, and other figures.
Based on this text, John cares less about setting and more about character. Notice that he closes with the setting ("this took place") only after describing John the Baptist's character. I read this text as a text of humility - the confession of "I am not the Messiah" appears to be a voluntary confession from John. There clearly is confusion (perhaps insecurity) from the priests and Levites, and John could have chosen to play along and get caught up in a power struggle. He, after all, was the one who was doing the baptizing. He, after all, was the one who was approached by those in power. Jesus had not been seen at this point, so what's the harm in having some fun and using power or knowledge to your advantage? Come on, John.
John does something that fights against our culture. Like it or not, we (Americans and perhaps others) love titles in our email signatures, degrees listed after our name, and organizational charts that show we're in charge. We like to identify things based on settings - "When I was in charge," "When I did that," "When I built..."
What if we took a step back and remembered that it isn't all about us?
Prayer: Holy God, bestow upon us the necessary humility to remember that we are all children of God. Amen.