There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light (John 1:6-8, ESV).
What makes a great man? What do you think of when you think of great men? Do you think of great leaders, military men, warriors, geniuses, men of power, rich men? Jesus said John the Baptist was the greatest man (Matthew 11:11). What made John the greatest man? He certainly had the credentials of prophet; however, he was a nobody in the desert, telling people to repent, and baptizing people in the Jordan river. What made John the greatest man to Jesus was his witness to Jesus as the Messiah. John the Baptist is mentioned seven times in the book of John. Each time he is either testifying about Jesus or is mentioned about being a witness for Jesus.
One way to know Jesus is God is by the testimony of John the Baptist, the witness to the light. This is seen in three movements: the man sent from God, a witness about the light, and he was not the light. We will look at each of these three movements to prove the main point.
The Man Sent From God
John was commissioned by God to be a witness for Jesus before his birth (Luke 1). This can be seen in the testimony of the angel to his elderly father, whose wife was aged and barren:
Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord (Luke 1:13-17, ESV).
Every Gospel begins with John the Baptist. He is in the wilderness, baptizing people, and telling them to repent (Matthew 3, Mark 1, Luke 1, 3, John 1).
The reason John did this was because God promised to send Elijah before the Messiah came, “See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction” (Malachi 4:5-6, ESV).
Yet, John was not literally Elijah or the Messiah (John 1:20-21). Jesus testified that John was the spiritual Elijah who was promised but rejected by the people (Matthew 17:11-12). John being a witness for Jesus is all that John wanted to be recognized as (John 1:20-28).
A Witness to the Light
The Greek word for witness is the word μαρτυριον. The word originally meant someone who testified in court. Yet, because of men of God who gave their life for the truth, the word came to mean someone who died for a cause. John came to fulfill both meanings of the word. John testified of Jesus as the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29, ESV). He also gave his life after calling out Herod for his incestuous marriage with his brother’s wife (Matthew 14:1-12). His purpose for his calling people to repentance so that all might believe in Jesus Christ through his testimony to the truth and Christ.
He was not the Light
John pointed out several times he was not Christ, just a witness (John 1:20-23). Yet, that did not stop his followers from being jealous of Jesus (John 3:22-26). Even with that situation, John said Jesus was who was important in the picture by comparing him to the groom and John just being the best man (John 3:27-30).
There were still people who believed John the Baptist was the Messiah in the time of Paul:
While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”
They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”
So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?”
“John’s baptism,” they replied.
Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. There were about twelve men in all (Acts 19:1-7, ESV).
These people needed to be taught about Jesus, the gospel, and the Holy Spirit. Then Paul immersed them in the teaching of the gospel and they were filled with the Holy Spirit. Like Paul, John always pointed to Jesus as the savior (John 1:29, 3:28-30).
The thing which made John the greatest man was that he was a witness to Jesus Christ. He was sent by God to prepare the way for Jesus. His purpose was so that all might believe in Jesus through his testimony. He never pointed to himself. If one want s to be great, they need to devote their life to witnessing for Christ.
John’s credentials as being sent from God and the fact that he died for the truth after claiming Jesus is the Messiah establishes his testimony of Jesus as credible. One can believe Jesus is God the Son from the testimony of John the Baptist.
What about you? Are you on the fence as to whether Jesus is the Messiah? Look at the testimony of John the Baptist. He could have lived a life of ease as a priest and prophet of God. Yet, he chose to be an outcast of society, preaching a message people did not want to hear, and be willing to give his life for the cause of Christ. Jesus’ testimony of being God is further established by this great man.
On another note you need to repent and believe Jesus is the Messiah. You are a vile, lying, thieving, blasphemous, adulterer at heart who has to face the wrath of God on judgement day. Eternity is close at hand. Are you going to spend it in the flames of Hell licking and devouring your flesh with no end in sight? Or are you going to confess your sin, turn from your sin, trust in the sacrifice of Jesus for your sin, and cry out to God for salvation? Listen to the witnesses of Jesus. He really is the Lamb of God who can take away your sin. Repent and trust in Him today.
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