The Messiah’s Herald
Open Your Bible
Luke 3:1-38, Genesis 3:15, Acts 1:6-8
From what I can tell, John the Baptist was a man to be respected. He spoke with authority. Others came to him to be baptized. They asked him for advice. They called him teacher. Many of them even wondered if he was the Messiah.
John could have told the crowd anything by the Jordan River that day, and the people probably would have followed him, but John used his God-given authority to point them to Christ:
“I baptize you with water, but one who is more powerful than I am is coming.
I am not worthy to untie the strap of his sandals.
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Luke 3:16).
Several years ago, I took a trip to Italy with some friends. We visited the Vatican in hopes of seeing the renowned Sistine Chapel, where Michelangelo painted the ceiling. Tourist-friendly signs dotted the Vatican campus with the words “Sistine Chapel” and an arrow pointing in its direction. Or so we thought. Many of the signs simply pointed us to the next sign that said “Sistine Chapel.” We followed sign after sign until we almost gave up.
“The Sistine Chapel isn’t here!” we declared dramatically. “These signs are lying to us.”
We did eventually wind our way to the chapel and see what we had come to see, but only after several detours that took us by other Vatican sites and gift shops.
As Christ-followers, we have been given a similar charge as John the Baptist—to be signs pointing toward the coming Christ. And yet, how often do I squander this opportunity? How often do I use my voice to point first to myself, rather than Christ? Speaking with authority, I take friends and loved ones on a detour of my own gospel. I give them all of my advice and all of my opinions when really what they need first is the comfort of Christ, the love of the Savior.
At the same time, I have often been a sucker for the signs, looking to others’ authority before Christ’s, settling for my favorite pastor’s, author’s, or podcaster’s words, rather than allowing Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection to have the final word.
As we see in the response to John the Baptist, we are a people quick to worship humans and look for guidance from earthly sources. Many people claim to have authority. Dozens of signs promise to get you where you want to go, but there is only one Christ, only one Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world—and that is not John the Baptist, but the One to whom he was pointing.
May we look to Christ alone as our authority, and may we point others to Him as well, always quick to say, “one who is more powerful than I am is coming.”