Have you ever had to bear witness to a situation or event? If you have, you know how crucial it is to ensure that you communicate what you have seen and observed. In John 1, we see John the Baptist functioning as a witness of Jesus, as well as helping us to see our life as a witness for Jesus. We bear witness to the sufficiency of Jesus and that He takes away the sin of the world.
1. We Embrace our Role as a Witness: v.19-28
John is questioned by the religious leaders as to who he is and what it is that he is doing. They want to know if he could be, or at least would claim to be, the Christ, Elijah or the prophet. In responding to their questioning, John is teaching us about our role as a witness, and specifically who we are and who we are not. Notice first of all that we are not the Christ. John makes clear that he is not the Christ. The same is true of us. We can’t save ourselves, rescue ourselves or fulfill ourselves. It’s both humbling and freeing to be reminded of the fact that we are not the Christ.
In contrast to this, what we are is a voice. John quotes from Isaiah 40 and gives a positive response to the question of ‘who are you’ by telling the religious leaders that he is a voice. This is what we are and what it is to embrace our role as a witness. We’re the voice, the announcer, the mouthpiece that proclaims Jesus. Are you a voice that is crying out in the wilderness? Are you a voice in your neighborhood; work; school; wherever God has you? This is what we’re called to be.
Finally, John tells us one other thing that we are not, and he says in verse 27 that we are not worthy. John speaks of not being worthy to even untie the strap of Jesus’ sandal. To deal with sandals or feet in John’s day was the most demeaning and belittling act that could be done. John is saying I’m not worthy of the most demeaning act toward Jesus…yet inasmuch as that’s true, we are welcomed and loved more than we could ever fathom.
2. We Proclaim the Message of Jesus’ Salvation: v.29-34
As John’s interaction with the religious leaders laid out our role as a witness, in these verses his proclamation in v.29-34 shows us the message that we proclaim. He begins with a profound statement about Jesus, by stating that Jesus is “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” We proclaim Jesus’ atonement for sin. John, drawing from a number of Old Testament allusions, speaks to Jesus as the one who will take from us our sin. He takes both the wrath that we deserve for our sin as well as freeing us from the bondage of sin! What a stunning and glorious truth! Additionally, we proclaim the need for repentance. As John speaks of baptism, we know that he brought about a baptism of repentance. This is what we proclaim in proclaiming Jesus’ salvation. Finally, we proclaim that Jesus is the Son of God.
As we closed our time, we posed a few questions for reflection and consideration. I want to include those below:
1. Do I understand who I am and who I am not in Jesus?
2. Will I embrace my role as a voice and cry out to those in the wilderness?
3. Am I more concerned with others position before God, or of what they think of me?
4. Do I know that I’m not worthy of the gospel, yet welcomed and loved beyond imagination?
5. Am I proclaiming the gospel Jesus has given, or a modified gospel that I prefer?