Advent: An Example from John

There was a man sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. … Now this was John’s testimony when the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, “I am not the Messiah.” They asked him, “Then who are you? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” He answered, “No.” Finally they said, “Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” 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.’” Now the Pharisees who had been sent questioned him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” “I baptize with water,” John replied, “but among you stands one you do not know. He is the one who comes after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.”

~ John 1:6-9, 19-29 ~

As today is Gaudete Sunday, it is only fitting to speak on the one sent ahead of the Messiah to “prepare the way for the Lord”, a man named John (Isa. 40:3, Mat. 3:3, Luk. 1:76). He was called to this purpose and even recognized the Messiah was even before he was born (Luk. 1:11-17, 39-45). John’s birth and mission was foretold by Isaiah and an angel of the Lord. But in this calling and mission, John was not proud. He walked in humility. When the priests were sent to ask him who he was, he did not claim to be the Messiah. John claimed no great title, not of the prophet nor Elijah nor the coming Savior. Instead, he confessed only what was true, and that he was the one foretold of to prepare the way in the wilderness for the coming of the Messiah. He put Christ first.

While John had a very specific calling and a very specific purpose, we are not left without a similar witness. One should note when reading this passage that John “did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, ‘I am not the Messiah.'” This is saying that instead of talking about what he was doing or about how great his work was, John put the focus onto Christ. Without Christ, John and his calling are nothing. He would be a man spouting the wind. Yet he was called to a purpose, and that was to prepare the way for Christ, not John.

In a similar way, we are called to put the focus on Christ. How often do we tell others of our great talents, gifts, or callings? How often do we think “me first” instead of “seek thee first the kingdom of God”? (Mat. 6:33) Why do we not turn our eyes to Christ, the “author and perfecter of our faith”? (Heb. 12:2) Why are we selfish and self seeking? These things should not be so. What are we without Christ?

How arrogant we are when we think ourselves in such a high position, forgetting how our worth comes from Christ, not us! How close we are to falling! Dear friends, let us not forget who gives us our talents, which we will be demanded a return on; let us not forget to whom we owe our very life! (Luk. 19:11-27) It is Christ who saved us. We did and could do nothing.

John knew his role, but do we know ours? What part of the body  of Christ are we? (1 Cor. 12:12-31) Dear friends, we are most certainly not the head! Additionally, we are neither the root nor the foundation (Rom. 11:18). Instead, we are the arms, or legs, or stomach! We are called to thoses positions, but we are not the part that holds it all together or the greatest part. We are those serving Christ, walking in His steps, and showing others Christ by our lives (1 Pet. 2:21). It is not about us. So let us not think of ourselves higher than we ought (Rom. 12:3).

So what have we been called to? We have been called to preach the Word in season and out of season (2 Tim. 4:2). We are to remember that we have been crucified with Christ, baptized, and thus have shed off our old selves and put on Christ; we are a new creations (1 Cor. 6:11, Gal 2:20, Rom. 6:3, 1 Cor. 5:17). We are called to share the Gospel, baptize, and teach all He has comanded us (Mat. 28:19-20).

And what if when we show Christ we are rejected, as John was? John was beheaded for his faith and testimony. And what if we are rejected by society, or mocked? What of it? Are we not called to suffer, and even so little? (Phil. 1:29) How better it is if we suffer for Christ! (1 Pet. 3:13-14) Did He not tell us that we would be rejected because they rejected Christ first? (John 15:20-21) And in the meantime, let us remember that we are not greater than Christ. If we boast, we boast in the Lord.

Let us live a lives worthy of our callings and worthy of the “gospel of Christ” (Phil. 1:27, 1 Thes. 2:12, 2 Thes. 1:11). Let us not live our lives shine to show the good deeds or great accomplishments we have done, but let us live lives that point others to Christ (Mat. 5:16). When we are called to account for who we are, as John was, let us not fail to confess Christ first in everything.

Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

~ Colossians 3:17 ~

Blessings to you and yours,

~Rose

 

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