‘There was a man sent from God … ‘ (John 1 :6)

Imagine painting a portrait of John the Baptist! Think of the experiences, the stories, the roles, the prophecies, the encounters, the references which contribute to the strong and diverse colors. Let’s have his life display a palette and then his role.

John’s peculiar and distinctive character appear even before birth. Events began with the announcement by an angel, a vision in the temple, a father prohibited from speech, and Elizabeth’s extraordinary fertilization. His conception wasn’t as miraculous as our Lord’s. Still, a birth when his mother was “advanced in years” puts it in the category of Sarah’s conception of Isaac.

Then, while still in the womb, he spoke. The one who was designated to announce the Messiah didn’t just stir the first time he was in the presence of the Lord. He “leaped for joy!”

Though we can only conjecture about his years before his public ministry, his appearance calls forth detailed exactness: “In the fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar….”

Later we are introduced to his preaching. No seeker-sensitive approach for this man. In an act that defines boldness and defies diplomacy, he refers to his congregation as “a brood of snakes.” Yet they came – “all the country of Judea and Jerusalem.”

His applications were not lost on anyone. Soldiers, tax collectors, and the rank and file – all asked for and got plain and simple dos and don’ts.

He met the ruler whom he had publicly criticized – Herod. Herod, too, was stirred by his preaching, sneaking off to “hear him gladly” even after he had put John in prison. In a scene of gutless and lascivious frailty of character, he consigned John to a humiliating death.

That’s his life. Capture that, if you will. And don’t leave out the camel’s skin, the locusts and wild honey. Then there is his role, his amazing function apportioned hin1 before birth. His calling was to be a voice, a forerunner, “more than a prophet,” and the greatest of those born of woman.

If Mary was given the exalted role of giving birth to the Son of God, John was entrusted with the responsibility of putting the water of repentance upon the forehead of the one who would never know sin. One final glimpse shows the deep pathos of this man.

With all the blessings God gave to him, his greatest need was to show the humility to decrease so the one he pointed to would increase. We will never know the honors bestowed on him, nor will we know the depths of his humility.

Look it Up

Find the references and then find your reactions – the things we admire most, don’t understand, could never do; his father’s role, his mother’s, his being the announcer, his prison inquiry of Jesus, his prison preaching.

Think About It

What are our ways of needing to decrease and to point to the Savior?