READ: John 1:19-34
Identity. In today’s passage John the baptizer is questioned about his identity. He’s been very clear all along that he is not the Christ, but rather the “…voice of one calling in the desert make straight the way for the Lord.” But this puzzles the Jews of Jerusalem who send the priests and Levites to question him about his identity. The fact that John baptizes, that this is a hallmark of his ministry, seems to say to them that John is the Christ, or Elijah, or the ‘prophet’. They saw what John was doing in the wilderness as possible fulfillment of messianic prophecies in Ezekiel 36:25 and Zechariah 13:1 that pointed toward the coming of the Christ. And in a way, they were right! The prophecies were being fulfilled as John pointed the way toward the one to come. He says very clearly “…the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.”
John is very clear about his own identity. I suspect he heard from his mother and father stories of what the angel said about him prior to his birth. But he also knew because God revealed it to him. I say that because of his statement about Jesus that gives a clue about his understanding of his own mission and identity. “Then John gave this testimony: ‘I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God.’” John 1:32-34
The one who sent me to baptize with water told me. John had a special anointing from God and a fullness of the Spirit unavailable to men in general. God selected him for his specific purpose and spoke clearly to him, guiding him and using him. This was a prior-to-Jesus anointing. But then came Jesus – the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit. The fullness of the Spirit that John knew is a gift of God into the life of every believer through Jesus. Our identity is found in Jesus, in following Him, in listening to the voice of the Spirit in us and through the gift of His Word. Jesus’ identity was confirmed over and over in the years of His life among us and in these first chapters of the gospels. And it is in this certainty of who Jesus is and who He is to us that we find the bedrock of our identity. Who am I? I am a follower of Jesus, the Son of God.
Lord, thank You for the certainty of who You are that I see in this passage from the Gospel of John. And thank You for John’s certainty of his own identity and his role. I can’t think of a better basis for life than the sure knowledge that I am Yours – a follower of Jesus, the Christ, the very Son of God. Give me ears to hear You as You guide and direct me throughout my days. I love You Lord and I receive Your love for me!