John the Baptist’s presence in the Scriptures is extremely brief, but what it lacks in duration it makes up for in power. He is the towering figure who straddles the Old Testament (the last of the OT prophets) and the herald of the Son of the God who has come to bring the New. I want to take just a few minutes to share what the Lord’s been showing me in my personal Bible reading times from John the Baptist’s ministry as recorded in John 1.
Make Straight the Way of the Lord
This morning I read again John the Baptist’s words about himself, where he quotes Isaiah, “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord.’” Years ago I wrote about this. I had written how we, too, are to “prepare the way” everyday in our hearts for our Lord and King. Reading that passage again I stopped. Once again the personal application washed over me with fresh conviction, and I needed to savor it.
John the Baptist’s words are my heart’s desire. In the popular vernacular of today, my Why—the core thing that motivates me every day—is Jesus: to know him and make him known. My heart’s greatest desire is to be involved in the lives of others to urge them to “Make straight the way of the Lord” in their own hearts, every day.
Behold the Lamb of God
And of course there is John’s most famous statement of all: Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world!” John continues his declaration by diminishing himself and exalting Jesus, “This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me…'” And then later, “He must increase and I must decrease.”
There is no more blessed place in our lives than be nothing. So much of what I read on the Internet from professing Christians who are in business talks about becoming someone.Even those who don’t subscribe to the false teachings of the prosperity “gospel” are often infected by it and don’t even know it when they declare great things for themselves, their business, their families, etc.
That’s not what we are supposed to be about. Our whole lives ought to be about promoting and pointing others to Jesus, the Lamb of God slain for the sins of his people, and resurrected in power on the third day, and coming again to judge, and who will rule and reign on high forever and forever in glorious triumph over his enemies and eternal celebration with those whom he ransomed by his blood.
Doesn’t that sound like a much better, much more appropriate thing for a Christian to be declaring? How am I saying “Behold the Lamb of God!” to others every day?
And I Have Seen and Have Borne Witness that this is the Son of God
Wouldn’t this make a great epitaph? Imagine some stranger walking past your headstone some day. They read your name but don’t know really know you. They read your birthday and the date of your death, random days that probably hold no personal significance on their life’s calendar. But then their eyes read this as your epitaph!
Sure, they may read it and keep on walking by. But for that brief second they are put in mind of the Lord Jesus Christ. They are forced to think of him whom they may otherwise have no regard for. The Word of God does not return void. The Spirit does his work of glorifying the Son.
Or maybe that stranger is also a believer? Maybe they are weary as they still walk in this sin-cursed world? Maybe they are passing your grave to get to the fresh grave of their husband or wife or other loved one. And maybe it is your posthumous testimony that God uses to encourage them as they walk by. Wouldn’t that be something!
Of all things that could be pronounced as a final statement, literally etched in stone to the world, the passerby has just encountered someone who gave as their life’s sum declarative statement that they personally attest 2,000 years on that the historical Jesus Christ was the very Son of God.
I hope you and I share the same desire, to have this as our life’s testimony. After all, isn’t that what our lives–single, married, widowed–are ultimately all about? It’s the very first answer in the Westminister catechism:
Q: What is the chief end of man?
A: Man’s chief end is to glorify Godand enjoy him forever. (emphasis added)
In recent years I’ve had several close family members die. Only the Lord knows where they are, but outwardly they gave off no sweet fragrance of being alive in Christ. And even now I think of some who are still alive. I’ve tried for years to preach the need for Christ to them. I have solemnly warned and earnestly pleaded many, many times. And they remain deaf to it all and dead in their sins. I want so much for them to be born again! I want John the Baptist’s testimony to be theirs, too.
John the Baptist’s fire was brief but intense. He burned white-hot for God. His wasn’t foolish zeal without knowledge either, but zeal becauseof knowledge. As believers, let’s be like John the Baptist. In our private lives, in our marriages, in how we conduct ourselves to hopefully one day prepare for marriage, and how we glorify the Lord even in widowhood. May it be said of the sum total of our lives that we, “have seen and bore witness that this is the Son of God.”