John 1:19–23 (ESV)
The Testimony of John the Baptist
19 And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” 20 He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” 21 And they asked him, “What
then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.” 22 So they said to him, “Who are you? We need to give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?”
23 He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.”
The Apostle John skips the birth of Jesus, genealogy,
and goes straight to the beginning of Jesus ministry which is when John the Baptist baptizes Jesus. Today’s reading takes place before this event, but it is setting up Christ’s baptism. Priest and Levites have been sent on spy and gather information
on who is John the Baptist. John tells them that he is not Jesus. Then they ask him if he is Elijah and he says no. This is confusing because Jesus later says that John is Elijah. In Matthew 17:12-13, Jesus states: “12 But I tell you that Elijah has
already come, and they did not recognize him, but did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of Man will certainly suffer at their hands.” 13 Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them of John the Baptist.” You can see the
confusion. John is NOT the prophet Elijah of the Old Testament that never died, but he is the fulfillment of Elijah and does the work of Elijah. They then ask if he is “the Prophet?” They are asking if he is the return of the Prophet Moses. John
says “No.” They then ask “Who are you?” John then tells them... “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.” They are very familiar with
the Old Testament Text (Isaiah 40:3) that John is claiming. John is building a case immediately that Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of God! We are only at the beginning of John’s Gospel. John is making direct connections between Jesus and
the Old Testament.
I pray: O Lord, it is frustrating when we try to explain Christianity to people and they simply don’t get it. You tell us that it is only revealed to them through you and the working
of the Holy Spirit. Help us to not get disillusioned over rejection, but to expect it and to keep planting the seeds of faith. Amen.