John’s Testimony (John 1:19-34; 3:22-36)

John wrote his gospel so that we may “believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that by believing we may have life in His name” (John 20:31). In our next major section of John, he presents seven witnesses who testify that Jesus is the Christ. Our first witness is John the Baptist who testifies: “I have come to prepare the way!” 

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Concerning Himself

We are introduced to “a man having been sent from God, whose name was John” (1:6). This John is not the writer of this gospel, but known as John the Baptist. John was very clear that he was not the Christ (1:20). In the Old Testament, God promised to send His Anointed One (Messiah/Christ) Son who would reign as King over His people. The Christ (Messiah) was the offspring of Eve/Abraham/David that was to restore mankind to the relationship with God that was lost with Adam and Eve.

When asked if he was Elijah or the Prophet, he said “I am not…no” (1:21). They asked if he was Elijah for two reasons. First, because he looked like him. In Matthew 3:4, we read: “Now John himself had a garment of camel’s hair and leather belt around his waist.” The best description we have of Elijah comes from 2 Kings 1:8: “He wore a garment of hair, with a belt of leather about his waist.” Elijah was a prophet who called the nation of Israel to repentance around 850 BC. 

Second, because the prophet Malachi told the Israelites around 400 BC that the Lord would “send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord” (Mal 4:5). Elijah would “turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers” (Mal 4:6). The New Testament tells us that the fulfillment of the prophecy about Elijah was John the Baptist. The angel of the Lord told Zechariah (John’s father) that John would “turn many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Luke 1:16-17). Later Zechariah said, “And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare His ways” (Luke 1:76). John told the truth that he is not Elijah (He is John!); but we know that he is the fulfillment of the Malachi prophecy. His father said he will come in the “spirit and power of Elijah” (Luke 1:17) and Jesus said, “Elijah already came…Then the disciples understood that He had spoken to them about John the Baptist” (Matt 17:12-13).

They asked if John was “The Prophet”. In Deuteronomy 18:15, Moses told the Jews: “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers; you shall listen to Him.” John was a prophet (Luke 1:76) but he was not The Prophet because this was fulfilled in Jesus (John 6:14). So, who is John? He said, “I am a voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as Isaiah the prophet said” (1:23).

Concerning His Baptism

John is the one who prepares the way of Christ through baptism. His baptizing was:

  • To show the need to have a sacrifice that removes our sin (1:29)
  • To reveal Christ to Israel (v. 31)
  • To testify that Jesus of Nazareth is the Son of God (v. 34)
  • A baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins (Luke 3:3)
  • Can’t enter into the kingdom through pedigree (Matt 3:9)

Concerning Jesus

John came to prepare the way for Jesus. John said, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has been ahead of me, for He existed before me’” (1:15). His authority comes from God so he does not lift up himself but lifts up God. John said of Jesus: “This One is He who comes after me, of whom I am not worthy to untie the strap of His sandal” (1:27) which would be the task of a slave (John 13). John prepared the way through baptism.

John’s ministry was to prepare hearts and minds to receive Christ as the promised Savior of the world. John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance and it demonstrates to us that we must repent and believe the gospel in order to have restoration with God.

What Can We Learn from John’s Testimony?

John testified that a person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven (27). John famously said, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (3:30). 

I Must Decrease

What does it mean to decrease? It means a denial of self-love and self-preservation.

Denial of Self-love. As Christians, we are not to love ourselves the most. 1 Corinthians 4:7 says, “For who regards you as superior? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?” Paul wrote, “I say to each one among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound thinking” (Rom 12:3). Christ frees us from the bondage of constantly looking out only for ourselves, the sting of insults, the pain of rejection, etc.

Denial of Self-preservation. Christians are not to be consumed with our comfort and protection. Christ frees us from the bondage of seeking to make ourselves comfortable and from being weakened by fear of man so that we are blinded to our true calling.

He Must Increase

Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God! He must increase! Jesus is the true bridegroom (3:29). He is above all things (3:31). He speaks the words of God and gives the Spirit without measure (3:34). All things given into His hand by the Father (3:35). Jesus gives eternal life to all who believe in Him. To those who reject Him, they “will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (3:36). 

John the Baptist testifies that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. Do you confess the same?

Published by First Baptist Church of Scott City, MO

Bringing the love of Christ to a hurting world.

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