Their first encounter was quite unique; it evidently made quite an impression on John! Early in her pregnancy, Luke tells us,
“Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favoured, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.” Luke 1:39-42, 44
These two, as yet unborn babies, were destined for greatness. Jesus was the Messiah, God’s own Son, sent to the world to save us. John was given the important task of preparing the people for Jesus’ arrival. In fulfilment of Isaiah’s prophecy, he was . . .
“A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’” … People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. – Matthew 3:3, 5, 6
John knew he’d been given a very special assignment. He was also very conscious of his servant role: “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” – Mark 1:7, 8
So when Jesus came to the Jordan to be baptised by John, “John tried to deter him, saying, ‘I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?’” – Matthew 3:14
Jesus insisted. He would do everything necessary to complete his identification with a sinful world. And so the sinless Son of God accepted the role he had been given by his Father; and in submitting to John’s baptism rejected as abhorrent the sin, our sin, he was soon to carry to the cross. God responded to his Son’s declaration of obedience. “A voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.’” – Matthew 3:17
John’s role was quite unique. Jesus said, “I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” – John 7:28. John stands between the two testaments, bridging the old covenant between God and his people and the new covenant Jesus brought in.
We have very different, but still important roles; and John has much to teach us, especially in his attitude to ministry. When it was reported that many who had come to hear John were now following Jesus, John said, “The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less.” John 3:29, 30. Whatever role has been entrusted to us, may we, like John, be faithful in our duties and joyful when we see the glory given to God.
PRAYER: Thank you, Father, for the life and ministry and example of John. May we be inspired by his devotion to the task you gave him and his willingness to step into the background so the spotlight would fall on Jesus. Thank you for our church and the opportunities you give us to serve alongside brothers and sisters we love. We share John’s commitment to the growth of your Kingdom. Father let your kingdom come, and your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. And we’ll rejoice to see it! In Jesus’ name. Amen
Song: Be Thou My Vision Nathan Pacheco – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ihJAJA4ibEs