Silence and Stillness before God (2 minutes)
This encounter took place in Bethany, an area east of the Jordan River, where John was baptizing. The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! He is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘A man is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me.’ I did not recognize him as the Messiah, but I have been baptizing with water so that he might be revealed to Israel.” Then John testified, “I saw the Holy Spirit descending like a dove from heaven and resting upon him. I didn’t know he was the one, but when God sent me to baptize with water, he told me, ‘The one on whom you see the Spirit descend and rest is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I saw this happen to Jesus, so I testify that he is the Chosen One of God.
When Jesus had finished giving these instructions to his twelve disciples, he went out to teach and preach in towns throughout the region. John the Baptist, who was in prison, heard about all the things the Messiah was doing. So he sent his disciples to ask Jesus, “Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?” Jesus told them, “Go back to John and tell him what you have heard and seen— the blind see, the lame walk, those with leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.” And he added, “God blesses those who do not fall away because of me.” As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus began talking about him to the crowds. “What kind of man did you go into the wilderness to see? Was he a weak reed, swayed by every breath of wind? Or were you expecting to see a man dressed in expensive clothes? No, people with expensive clothes live in palaces. Were you looking for a prophet? Yes, and he is more than a prophet. John is the man to whom the Scriptures refer when they say,‘Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,and he will prepare your way before you.’ “I tell you the truth, of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John the Baptist. Yet even the least person in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he is!
John the Baptist was thrown in prison. While there perhaps he questioned who he was and what God had sent him to do because he sent his disciples to ask Jesus if he was “The One.” They reported back that Jesus was who John thought he was: the Messiah. Therefore, John was who God said he was: the prophet sent to prepare the way for the Lord.
For the faithful Christ-follower, self-concept is connected to God-concept. We are valuable because God is the Creator. We are forgiven because God is Redeemer. If God is not who we thought He was, then who are we?
In Jewish culture the Jews are confident that the story is strong enough to be tried and tested, and children are encouraged to question. We strengthen our faith when we ask sincere questions. The Author of our faith is more than able to address the identity crises His words and ways may trigger. We are loved when making bold proclamations near cool waters under sunny skies. We are loved when asking sincere questions in dark cells and darker times. We are loved.
Today, let your faith be messy. Fast tidying it up to make it tamer, and meditate on Jesus’ peaceful and affirming response to John’s uncertainty.
Question to Consider
If God is able to “address the identity crises His words and ways may trigger,” what are the big questions I have for Him? Does it encourage you that John was not condemned for asking the question, but rather affirmed in His own identity by Jesus’ answer?
Dear Jesus, I sometimes doubt who I am, as John doubted himself in prison, in the midst of his trial. But his question to you was not, “Who am I?” but “Who are You, Jesus?” And your answer told him you were the Messiah and he was your prophet. You showed him who he was by showing him who you are. Jesus, I ask you to give me the courage to come to you with my heart questions, knowing that You welcome them and Your answers make me stronger. Show me who I am in you.
Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)
The 40 days of decrease blogs have been inspired by the book “40 Days of Decrease” by Alicia Britt Chole.