24 Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. 25 They asked him, and said to him, “Why then are you baptizing, if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” 26 John answered them saying, “I baptize in water, [but] among you stands One whom you do not know. 27 “[It is] He who comes after me, the thong of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.” 28 These things took place in Bethany beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing. (Jhn 1:24-28 NASB)
Why are you Baptizing?
So, John was baptizing, and this is what drew the fire from the Pharisees. The Pharisees were saying, this is serious because this guy is baptizing people – we need to check it out. I wonder what the connection is between baptism and being the Christ, or Elijah, or the Prophet? Would they expect one of these figures to be baptizing for some reason? What the heck was all this baptizing business anyway?
Before we go down that long and laborious road, let’s note something. John the flipping BAPTIST downplays his own baptisms! I merely baptize in water, he says. It is inconsequential, he says. There’s something else happening right here that’s way more important, he says. So to save us all time, I’m going to take his lead and skip right over that question. If it is really a burning question for you, google it or else just cozy up to the idea of not knowing much. John answers by saying, it’s not the right question. There’s a much more important question.
You’re Asking the Wrong Question
He answers by saying, it’s not important who I am. I’m nothing. I’m unworthy. You should be asking, who is He? You know what? I don’t mean to make some shining example of John the Baptist, but that resonates with me. People want to live in a way that they are a “good witness.” What a fool’s game! It points everything to themselves. If someone wants to know who I am, I am a miserable sinning cantankerous overweight poor uninfluential white grandpa. How about this: I’m an ex-pastor of a church that never really got off the ground. Still interested in me? Good, you shouldn’t be. There’s nothing there. If you’re going to wait until you are someone worth looking at to point to the supremacy of Jesus Christ, you’ll wait forever. It doesn’t work that way.
The True Voice of the Prophet
What he says really is, there is someone else here you should be seeking. I’m not the guy. He’s the guy. If you’re not looking for Him you’re looking for the wrong thing. Maybe I’m the most awesome prophet to ever come along. My highest prophetic message will be to say, “look for Jesus.” There are all of these “apostolic” “prophets” running around saying all of these crazy things these days. They fill stadiums. But here is the guy who Jesus says is the greatest prophet ever (Matthew 11:11), and all he had to say was “look for Him.”
Here is the true unction of the Holy Spirit, the true voice of the prophet: Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior – look for Him. Maybe that seems simplistic and irrelevant to some people who are itching for a more timely prophetic revelation. But there is no greater prophetic message. If a prophet isn’t saying “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world,” they’re not a real prophet.
Such good news!
This is such good news! I can lay down my burden of trying to pretend to be a good witness or some fancy prophetic visionary. I’m not worthy to untie His shoes – I’m really not. I don’t know anything. I’m not a prophet, I’m not a scholar, I’m not wise and I’m not even good. Thank God it doesn’t depend on me! I think Jesus can untie His own shoes! He is the savior and He doesn’t really need my help. My highest and best effort, my shiniest service, is to say “stop asking about me and look for Him.” What a relief! He is excellent in every way, and I am not. I’m so glad my “witness” doesn’t depend on my own shining virtue. It depends on my savior Jesus Christ.
“Jesus is Lord, and everything else is bullshit.” Stanley Hauerwas