THE FORERUNNER

Bible Reading: John 1:6-9, 15-36; 3:23-36

“There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe”

[John 1:6-7]

John the Baptist was a remarkable man. Jesus said of him that there was no one born of woman greater than John the Baptist [Matthew 11:11]. His birth was a miracle. His parents were old and his mother, Elizabeth, was barren [Luke 1:7].

Remarkable prophecies were given even before his birth. He would be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb, and would turn many of the children of Israel back to God [Luke 1:15-16]. When Mary was carrying Jesus she visited Elizabeth and as she greeted Elizabeth the babe in Elizabeth’s womb leaped in response to Jesus [Luke 1:41]. Was there ever a clearer picture of unborn children having a living spirit within them?

Some of the character traits of John the Baptist’s life still challenge us today. Firstly, his humility of spirit, summed up by his words, “He [Jesus] must increase, but I must decrease” [John 3:30]. He said that he was not the Christ [John 3:28]. He denied that he was Elijah or the Prophet that Israel was expecting [John 1:21]. He simply referred to himself as The Voice, preparing the way for and pointing to the coming Christ! Secondly, his holiness of character, testified to by King Herod who knew that he was a holy man [Mark 6:20]. Thirdly, his clear testimony, about Jesus as the Lamb of God and the Son of God and of salvation [John 3:29-36]. People later said that the things John said about Jesus were true [John 10:40-41]. Fourthly, his simple lifestyle, evidenced in his camel’s hair clothes, with a leather belt, and his diet of locusts and honey [Matthew 3:4]. Fifthly, his honesty in adversity, when imprisoned he began to doubt and expressed this to Jesus [Matthew 11:2]. Sixthly, his faithfulness when facing death, as he fearlessly denounced Herod for seducing and marrying the wife of his half-brother [Matthew 14:1-12]. John the Baptist is called a witness [John 1:6,7]. The word used for witness is the Greek word marturia, which is the root word of our English word martyr. In John the Baptist’s life faithful witnessing to the truth literally led to his death!

Questions:

In what way can the words, “He must increase, but I must decrease” become more meaningful in your life as a follower of Jesus?

God’s Word speaks about being choked by things [Luke 8:14]. In what way can you simplify your lifestyle so that “things” do not choke your spiritual life?

Being faithful to the truth cost John the Baptist his life. What has faithfulness to Jesus cost in your life?