John the Baptist
Open Your Bible
Matthew 3:1-17, Matthew 11:1-15, Matthew 14:1-12
Somehow, I cannot picture John the Baptist as a multitasker. I don’t imagine he was smooth at dinner parties. I don’t reckon he cared much for distractions. He strikes me as someone who knew the one thing he was about, and he was deeply invested in that one thing. He was called to prepare the way of the Lord (Matthew 3:3), and by the grace of God, he was able to go about his business with that singular focus.
The life of John the Baptist is such a brilliant reminder to bring us back to the one thing we are about. And I don’t mean writing that novel, or going on a trip, or even perfecting our relationships. I’m talking about the one thing we are all, first and foremost, supposed to be about: the person of Jesus Christ.
John fixed his sights wholly upon proclaiming the coming kingdom. His wilderness living was not just a weird lifestyle choice, but an unbending commitment to prayer and the Word of God. His devotion to Christ and His kingdom are particularly evident in two defining features of John’s life, and these two features should drive us to the same wholehearted seeking of God’s kingdom.
First, John’s humility provokes us to bend our knees before the lordship of Christ. John was the greater Elijah, indeed, and according to Jesus, John was the greatest man to have yet walked the earth (Matthew 11:11). Yet John’s chief calling was to point the way to Christ who would bring the kingdom of heaven along with Him. Though John himself was the greatest of the prophets, he did not yield to the temptation of pride. Instead, he declared to his followers:
“I baptize you with water for repentance,
but the one who is coming after me is more powerful than I.
I am not worthy to remove his sandals.
He himself will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Matthew 3:11).
John further displayed this kind of humility when his own disciples began to abandon him to follow after Jesus, acknowledging: “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). If John, the greatest of the prophets, so readily yielded up everything to Christ, how much more ought we do the same? The humility of John the Baptist is a reminder of the greatness of Christ.
Second, John’s courage provokes us to honor the lordship of Christ in faith-filled obedience. John did not hesitate to proclaim the gospel. His cry was continual: “Repent, because the kingdom of heaven has come near!” (Matthew 3:2). He offended the selfish pride in the hearts of the Pharisees and Sadducees, calling out their sin and declaring that they, too, must bow the knee to the true Lord of heaven and earth (vv.7–10).
He declares the same thing to us: Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come! He proclaimed this message of the gospel—both its condemnation of sin, and its offer of salvation—even in the face of death. He called sin, sin, a thing we are often hesitant to do in this day and age. And he boldly proclaimed Christ as both Lord and Savior. Such courage only comes from knowing that Christ is Lord over all, and therefore, we need not fear the powers of earth. Such courage only comes from knowing that Christ is the Lamb of God, and therefore, we rest secure in the salvation He has purchased.