Today’s passage: John 1:15–51
Focus verse: John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’” (John 1:23)
We first meet John the Baptist in John 1:6. (Remember, John the Baptist is not the author of the book of John. John, the disciple of Jesus, is.)
John the Baptist comes to tell us about the light of Jesus so we might believe in him. In fact, God wants us all to believe—not that everyone will, but so that everyone has an opportunity to. Salvation isn’t a given. It’s a choice.
After this opening passage in the book of John about Jesus being Word, life, and light, we now return our attention to John the Baptizer.
John’s purpose, his ministry, is to point us to Jesus, preparing people to accept and follow him. John isn’t the light. He serves as a witness pointing to the light (John 1:7–8).
Here are a few things John the Baptist says about Jesus:
- Jesus existed long before John. Though we understand this because John writes that Jesus created our world, the people John addresses aren’t aware of this detail. Explaining that Jesus comes before John hints at Jesus’s eternal nature (John 1:15).
- Jesus will bless us with his abundance (John 1:16).
- The law, God’s commands of right behavior and proper worship in the Old Testament, comes from Moses. In contrast, Jesus will offer grace and truth instead of rules and requirements (John 1:17).
- No one has seen God, except for the Son of God, who is also God (John 1:18). If John’s statement that Jesus is God and God’s Son is confusing, consider that Jesus later says this about himself too (John 17:21–22).
Though some people who come to hear John the Baptist assume he’s their long-expected Savior, he insists he is not. Nor does he claim to be Elijah or even the Prophet (John 1:19–21), even though he embodies the prophesied return of Elijah and is a prophet too.
Instead, John quotes Isaiah’s prophecy about someone who will call out from a desolate place. This person will tell people to get ready to receive their Lord—that is, their Savior, Jesus the Messiah. John baptizes those who believe what he says.
The next day Jesus arrives. As soon as John the Baptist sees Jesus, he proclaims, “Look! Here comes God’s Lamb who will take away our sins. Though I baptized you with water, he will baptize you with Holy Spirit fire. I confirm Jesus is the chosen one sent by God.”
- What do you think about the line that “salvation isn’t a given. It’s a choice?”
- How can we understand that Jesus is God and also God’s Son?
- How does John’s baptism differ from Jesus’s?
- What do you think about Jesus being the Lamb of God?
- How do you understand being baptized with Holy Spirit fire?
Discover more about Jesus coming to John the Baptist in Matthew 3:13–17, Mark 1:9–13, and Luke 3:21–22. What insights can you glean from these passages?
Read the next lesson or start at the beginning of this study.
Read more in Peter’s new book, Living Water: 40 Reflections on Jesus’s Life and Love from the Gospel of John, available everywhere in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.
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