A man came, sent by God. His name was John. He came as a witness, as a witness to speak for the light, so that everyone might believe through him. He was not the light, only a witness to speak for the light.
This is how John appeared as a witness. When the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?”, he not only declared, but he declared quite openly, “I am not the Christ.” “Well then,” they asked, “are you Elijah?” “I am not” he said. “Are you the Prophet?” He answered, “No.”
So they said to him, “Who are you? We must take back an answer to those who sent us. What have you to say about yourself?” So John said, “I am, as Isaiah prophesied, a voice that cries in the wilderness: Make a straight way for the Lord.”
Now these men had been sent by the Pharisees, and they put this further question to him, “Why are you baptising if you are not the Christ, and not Elijah, and not the prophet?”
John replied, “I baptise with water; but there stands among you – unknown to you – the one who is coming after me; and I am not fit to undo his sandal-strap.”
This happened at Bethany, on the far side of the Jordan, where John was baptising.
John 1: 6-8, 19-28
John the Baptist was a humble man who never made his ministry about himself, despite the role he had in the introduction of Jesus.
John knew that he had to help people prepare to recognize Jesus when he revealed himself; he was sure of his mission in a way that many of us today struggle to be.
We are all aware that this time of year can really creep up on us; we spend the whole month trying to get our Christmas shopping done, ensure we make time to catch up with friends and family, making sure we have everything prepared for the 25th.
But really, in some ways this can be how we spend our whole year. Before we know it, another year has passed and we haven’t even really had a chance to think about our personal ‘mission’ and what we are called to.
It can sometimes be overwhelming to try and reassess where we’re at and see if it is actually still giving us a sense of life and purpose, but John the Baptist is a real example to each of us in this sense. He was out there in the wilderness, not ashamed to be living differently, pointing and preparing people for the coming of Jesus.
This week, we pray that our sense of mission is strengthened and that we are given the courage and grace to live it out.