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How Dare You!

John 1:19 (KJB) And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou?

Why did they ask John who he was?

There are a few examples in these verses I would like to examine.

First, we will examine the example of John’s humility.

John 1:19 (KJB) And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou?

Getting to know John the Baptist is a study about humility. Jesus testified that among all the saints, there was none greater than John the Baptist.

Matthew 11:11 (KJB) Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

John did not pay any attention to position and proclaimed that he was “the voice crying in the wilderness.” Today most would be trying to figure out how to cash in most effectively on his fame. Not John, his objective was to exalt Jesus Christ and bring glory and honor to HIM only.

1 Peter 5:5 (KJB) Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.

Secondly, look at the example of the blindness of unbelievers.

The men who came to question John were not just anybody; they were learned men, students of scripture. These men boasted they were the children of Abraham, possessors of the covenants, sticklers for the Law. These were the men who claimed to know God’s will and to believe God’s promises. They were looking for the Messiah. The Bible refers to them as blind guides living in total darkness.

Romans 2:17-20 (KJB) Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God, 18 And knowest his will, and approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law; 19 And art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness, 20 An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law.

We find here that is was the priests, and the Levites from Jerusalem were sent to question John regarding his authority to preach and baptize. Who sent these priests? The Bible says the Jews sent them.

John was beginning to create a problem because the crowds that were coming to see him were growing into quite a sizeable gathering.

Mark 1:5 (KJB) And there went out unto him all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins.

The Bible says that all the land of Judaea and Jerusalem were going out to see the ministry of John. This increasing attention is the reason John is questioned…

The ruling elite wanted to know by what authority John was ministering in their territory. In other words, John was trespassing!

The questions that these men ask is also instructive to us today.

John 1:20 (KJB) And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ.

Jesus Christ, at this time, had not yet publicly made Himself known.  It would seem clear by John’s statement that many and perhaps all the priests and Levites sincerely believed he was Jesus Christ.  In Luke’s gospel, it states that many people anticipated and mused in their hearts if John really was the Messiah.

Luke 3:15 (KJB) And as the people were in expectation, and all men mused in their hearts of John, whether he were the Christ, or not.

Oliver Green says ‘that John shrank back with indignation that these men could be so ignorant as to think he might be the Christ!  They should know that such a one as he could not be the Redeemer, the Christ, the King of the Jews, and he declared the Christ to be far superior to himself.”  

John 1:21 (KJB) And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No.

We look at this question today, and it may seem a bit strange, but to the educated Jew, priest, or Levite.  This question centers on this prophetic verse in Malachi:

Malachi 4:5 (KJB) Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD.

As we look at John’s mode of dress, his diet, his preaching,  and his appearance, and his living in the wilderness, knowing it was very similar to the life of Elijah.   

Mark 1:6 (KJB) And John was clothed with camel’s hair, and with a girdle of a skin about his loins; and he did eat locusts and wild honey.

Logically, then, the Jews thought if John was not Jesus, then he must be Elijah.  But John sternly denied this by saying, “I am not.” 

Matthew 17:11 (KJB) And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things.

Many have tried to claim there is a contradiction in God’s Word because of this above verse from the book of Matthew, chapter 17.  Additionally, in scripture there are two other future comings of Elijah mentioned.  One is spiritual, and the second is a physical appearance.  John the Baptist was the spirit of Elijah, and again understanding the proper context of scripture removes any confusion as we look back at this in the gospel of Matthew.   

Matthew 17:12 (KJB) But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them.

The second coming of Elijah likely will happen as a part of Revelation 11 coming as a prophet to Israel during the Great Tribulation. Again, there are no contradictions in scripture. 

Next, looking again to prophesy in the Bible, the Jews asked: “are though that prophet?”

John 1:21 (KJB) And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No.

Deuteronomy 18:15 (KJB) The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken.

John the Baptist was undoubtedly a prophet but not THE Prophet.  These educated men didn’t understand that this prophecy given by Moses was ultimately concerning Jesus Christ.  John answers them, “No.”  John didn’t expand any further or go into a tirade about the lack of knowledge on their part.  Instead, John humbly says, “No,” I am not that prophet. 

Now here is where we get another clue from the next verse in the book of John:

John 1:22 (KJB) Then said they unto him, Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself?

Here we discover undeniable truth that these men were not just enquiring of their curiosity.  These men were sent by a group of people to get some answers.  I would contend that the men who sent this group were from the Sanhedrin, an ancient often kangaroo court.  In verse twenty-four, we learn that these were Pharisees, a denomination of legalistic conservative Jews.  In any case, the mission was to find out what John was doing and report their findings to the Sanhedrin. 

John 1:23 (KJB) He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias.

John’s answer as you have likely guessed was another prophetic statement:

Isaiah 40:3 (KJB) The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

These educated men should have known who John was, and John, in no uncertain terms, reminds them there is no excuse for their not knowing.  The priests and Levites had at that time the Old Testament and all the revealed prophecy.  Had they known the scriptures, as they professed to know them, they would have instantly recognized “the voice of one crying in the wilderness.” 

John WAS that voice, and John WAS that person that Isaiah saw and heard in his vision, and John WAS who the prophecy is describing.

John admitted I am not the Messiah, and I am not Elijah, I am not that Prophet!  But John was that voice, crying in the wilderness.  John was the voice going before the Messiah to prepare the way for the LORD.  John was the forerunner, sent to prepare the way and to be the voice in announcing the coming of Jesus Christ.  The Gospel was used to prepare and soften the hearts of Jews and Gentiles dwelling in the wilderness of darkness, sin, and unbelief and bring them to the Light!

John’s mission was to cry aloud, to warn, and to invite men to prepare for the coming of the Messiah. 

John 1:24 (KJB) And they which were sent were of the Pharisees.

The Pharisees were known for strict adherence to ceremonies, ordinances, forms, and rituals.  It was natural that they would question John the Baptist, not content with his unique ministry. 

Let’s not forget, another significant point is that John the Baptist was a Levite himself as we learn when his father was stricken with silence while serving in the temple. 

Jesus Christ had this to say regarding the Pharisees and John the Baptist:

Luke 7:30 (KJB) But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him.

Like many today the Pharisees had no desire to learn the truth. They questioned John because he didn’t come to them for his credentials to minister in their area.  Oh, how often this happens today both in towns and states and also social media.  The ruling elite gets their feathers ruffled when someone comes along that is not part of their click.

John 1:25 (KJB) And they asked him, and said unto him, Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet?

John provides a pointed and precise answer to these religionists of his day.

John 1:26-27 (KJB) John answered them, saying, I baptize with water: but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not; 27 He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose.

John was a voice in the wilderness, but there was One coming who was so much better than John.  The Messiah that they were looking for was even standing among them, and they didn’t even recognize Him. 

John the Baptist didn’t fear the religious elite of his day.  God sent John and gave him the exclusive responsibility to announce the coming of the Messiah, who is Jesus Christ so that nobody would be caught off guard or surprised at His arrival.  John, the Baptist, just like Elijah, was known for his bold and fearless preaching. 

Indeed, John’s rewards are in heaven for completing his ministry.

My question for us today is, will we allow the religious elite to stop the ministry of what God has given each of us to do?  John the Baptists fearless preaching would cost him his life, yet he completed this task precisely as God sent him to do.

Let us all be as courageous and bold as John the Baptist and accomplish the will God has for our life!

Isaiah 41:10 (KJB) Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

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