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The Prologue to the Gospel of John Part 4: The Witness of John (the Baptist)
John 1:6-8, Isaiah 40:3, Matthew 11:2-6
“There came a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light.”
John 1:6-8 NASB1995
We learned about the miracle of John the Baptist’s conception and birth to the elderly devout couple Zacharias and Elizabeth in Luke Chapter 1. This John received the Holy Spirit before birth and was able to recognize the unborn child of Mary as the Christ while he was still in the womb. John’s appearance fulfills this prophecy in Isaiah:
“A voice is calling, “Clear the way for the Lord in the wilderness; Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God.”
Isaiah 40:3 NASB1995
I love the photo I found for this devotional - a road in the wilderness is being made leading towards the Light! John came to be a witness to the coming of the Light of the World. He was not the Light, but was here to testify about the Light. According to Blue Letter Bible, witness is translated from the Greek word martyria (fascinating!), which is defined as the following:
the office committed to the prophets of testifying concerning future events
what one testifies, testimony, i.e. before a judge
A person who suffers persecution and even death for their beliefs (a martyr) is a witness to the truth of Scripture. John’s purpose was to witness to the coming of Jesus, testifying about His Light so that all can believe through what he testifies. Being a witness to an event or series of events has enormous responsibilities. So many dangerous criminals have been set free because court witnesses recanted their testimonies for fear of their lives or some other kind of retribution.
John did not recant his witness, which was considered dangerous because it countered the teachings of the Sanhedrin and he was under pressure to stop what he was doing, finally getting sent to prison for rebuking Herod Antipas. However, John DID have momentary doubts if Jesus was really the Messiah while in prison as recorded in Matthew 11:2-6 (this answer apparently satisfied him):
“Now when John, while imprisoned, heard of the works of Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to Him, “Are You the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and report to John what you hear and see: the blind receive sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who does not take offense at Me.””
Matthew 11:2-6 NASB1995
Being a witness to God’s plan of salvation takes courage, stamina and humility. We must point to the Light, testify about the Light and and lead people to belief and not make it about ourselves. It is critical that we bring as many lives to Him as we can! For Him to go higher, we must go lower.
I’ll end this devotional with some short relevant Commentary from David Guzik at Enduring Word:
He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light: John the Baptist’s work was remarkably well received and widely known. It was important for the John the Gospel writer to make it clear that John the Baptist was not that Light, but that He pointed towards and bore witness of that Light.
He was not that Light: “Possibly this was directed toward the sect that survived John and perpetuated his teaching but had not knowledge of the completion of the work of Christ (Acts 18:24-25; 19:1-7).” (Merrill Tenney)
“We know him as ‘John the Baptist’ but in this Gospel the references to his baptism are incidental… But there is repeated reference to his witness.” (Henry Morris)
The matter of witness is a serious thing, establishing truth and giving ground for faith. Yet, witness “does more. It commits a man. If I take my stand in the witness box and testify that such-and-such is the truth of the mater I am no longer neutral. I have committed myself. John lets us know that there are those like John the Baptist who have committed themselves by their witness to Christ.” (Henry Morris)
My next devotional examines the Prologue to the Gospel of John 1:9-13: The True Light and The Children of God.
Heaven on Wheels Daily Prayer:
Dear Heavenly Father: May I be a true witness to the Light, testifying and bringing others to belief. May any doubts be vanquished by assurances from Jesus that He is the Word, healing the sick and preaching the Gospel. Blessed is the person who does not take offense at the Shepherd! Amen!
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. lockman.org”
Commentary on Enduring Word by David Guzik is used with written permission.