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.” 24 (Now they had been sent from the Pharisees.) 25 They asked him, “Then why are you baptizing, if you are neither the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” 26 John answered them, “I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know, 27 even he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.” 28 These things took place in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing. John 1:19 -28 (ESV)
John the Baptist’s ministry and life were devoted to pointing people to Jesus. He knew his place in life.
He had a humble and strong spirit to him. He was not self-promoting, he was a Jesus promoter. He had
no agenda of his own, he had God’s agenda in mind. He was more concerned with people being right
with God through preaching a message of baptism of repentance and forgiveness of sins. His purpose was
to show people a new way of life and a new relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
The religious leaders were all about keeping the rules, conformity and power. Their ministry and lives
were solely about enforcing the law and being pious. Their “religion” was about doing, not being. They
were into self-promotion and power by imposing rules and regulations on people based on their
interpretations and beliefs of the Law. They wore lavish clothes and had conceited attitudes. They had
little concern for God’s agenda; they were more about God changing his agenda to fit their plans. There
was no talk of repentance, forgiveness or submission to God. It was all about enforcing and keeping the
rules. Their righteousness was based on keeping the rules.
When I look at these two groups, I am reminded of how these attitudes are still among us today.
Unfortunately, there are pious rule changers who focus more on “doing for Jesus” rather than “being in
Jesus”. They depend on tasks and “being a good person” as their evidence of being a Christian. They
attend church on a semi regular basis, they try to be moral, and they will put some money in the offering
plate when it comes around. There is little to no change in heart; they are the same person they have
always been and maybe there is a little compartment in their life for God, on Sunday or when they are in a
Fortunately, there are believers today who have devoted their lives to Christ’s promotion and preaching
the message of repentance, forgiveness and submission to Jesus Christ. They understand that their faith is
not a result of keeping rules and pointing out the sins of others in a self-righteous manner. They are
submitted to Jesus, the one who has shown the way to the Kingdom. A heart changer receives a new heart
when Jesus becomes their Lord and Savior. They don’t just become better versions of themselves, they
become new creations in Christ. The old has passed away and the new has come.
Jeff has been in ministry for well over two decades. He currently serves as Campus Pastor at West Bradenton Baptist Southside Campus in Bradenton, Florida.
Jeff Has authored an Advent Devotional (The Advent of Jesus) and a devotional on the book of James (James: Where Faith and Life Meet). Both are available on Amazon.
He is married to Carrie and they have four children, Micaiah, Gabe, Simon, and Berea.
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