There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. … Now this was John’s testimony when the Jews of Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, “I am not the Christ.” They asked him, “Then who are you? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” He answered, “No.” Finally they said, “Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’” Now some Pharisees who had been sent questioned him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” “I baptize with water,” John replied, “but among you stands one you do not know. He is the one who comes after me, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.”
What’s your secret?
John the Baptist was a different kind of guy. In his Gospel, Matthew reports that John lived in the wilderness. His “clothes were made of camel’s hair and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey.” Yet his powerful message drew people out to him. He was different—and people were interested in why.
When the religious leaders of that day asked John who he was, John confessed freely, “I am not the Christ.” John was different, but he was not the difference-maker. He was not the light, but testified about the Light. God used a different kind of man to announce the coming difference-maker, Jesus Christ. God used the voice of one crying in the wilderness, to straighten out the hearts of his hearers and introduce them to the Prince of peace. John implored people to repent of their sins and pointed them to Christ as their Redeemer.
We need this same Word to work in our hearts too. Do you have a secret sin that you think would destroy you if it were revealed? Do you carry around a load of guilt about something you have not done or been? Do you expend a lot of energy trying to suppress your shame? Buying the perfect presents or finding fantastic Christmas decorations can’t take care of deep spiritual problems like these. Only God’s Word can straighten us out.
John confessed that he was not worthy of the Christ. None of us are worthy of a holy, righteous God. But our God of grace and mercy still sent the Light, his Son Jesus Christ. Jesus lived a perfect life in thoughts, words, and deeds. He offered tender comfort to those who were hurting and broken. He had tough conversations with those who thought they had it all figured out on their own. He was never self-centered, but always self-sacrificing.
Jesus lived perfectly to make you worthy. His sacrificial death is the eternal difference-maker. It is God’s love that makes you special. That was John’s message. God has made it known in his Word. It’s no secret. God made you someone different. Through Christ you are a redeemed and beloved child of God.
Dear heavenly Father, you so loved the world that you sent your only Son to save and redeem me from my sin. Strengthen me to live a life worthy of the grace you’ve given me. Use my voice to proclaim the good news of your Son, Jesus Christ. In his name, I pray. Amen.
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