“There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light.” (John 1:6-8)
The first light was the star of Bethlehem that lead the shepherds and the wise men to the baby Jesus. But that was not the only light, nor even the greatest light. As Jesus grew into the Messiah that the world needed, the world’s awareness of the light grew. John was like the star of Bethlehem, a part of the natural world that signaled the coming of the light of God through Jesus.
“This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, ‘Who are you?’ He confessed and did not deny it, but confessed, ‘I am not the Messiah.’ And they asked him, ‘What then? Are you Elijah?’ He said, ‘I am not.’ ‘Are you the prophet?’ He answered, ‘No.’ Then they said to him, ‘Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?’
This is a question we all have to answer for ourselves, at one time or another. Who is Jesus to us? At this time of year we think of Jesus as a baby, innocent and sinless, as he was all of his life. But also small and helpless. But John the Baptist reminds us that Jesus was not always a baby. That at one time Jesus was with God and was God. And that Jesus came as the Messiah. And that Jesus had a purpose and mission.
He said, ‘I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, “Make straight the way of the Lord”’, as the prophet Isaiah said.
Jesus came as a child, because all of us at one time are one time were small and helpless, innocent and without sin. But it is our choices that form our life. And we can ask God to be as much a part of our life as God was in Jesus. We are not divine – far from it. But that just means we need God even more!
Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. They asked him, ‘Why then are you baptizing if you are neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?’ John answered them, ‘I baptize with water. Among you stands one whom you do not know, the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal.’ This took place in Bethany across the Jordan where John was baptizing.” (John 1:19-28)
John the Baptist brought to his ministry all that he had – his voice inspired by God and a chance to receive forgiveness and mercy upon confession of faith, and renewal and re-commitment symbolized by fresh water. Jesus as a baby, and Jesus as a grown man, was the coming of this light and all manner of good things for our spirit and soul!
Beloved, may you this Advent and Christmas season enjoy all the lights of the season, and all the good things that come during this time. But may you remember the most important coming of the Light and the good things our Lord symbolizes. Selah!