“Finally they said, “Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?”
John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’” (John 1:22-23)
The Teachers of religious Law asked John who he was, whether he was the Messiah, Elijah or the Prophet who was to come. John confessed to none of them, but confessed directly out of scripture, “I am the voice of one calling out in the wilderness…”
Isn’t that amazing that John knew who he was? Many of us today can say who we are in terms of our name, place of birth and where we are from, but John’s statement also implied that he knew why God put him on this planet – to proclaim and make ready His people for the Messiah!
Do you know your purpose in life? I believe our purpose is connected to knowing who we are, and knowing who we are is connected to knowing who Jesus is and why He came to die for us. If we know Him, He will reveal to us who we are and what our purpose on earth is, and He will show us what to do.
Now think about this for a minute. Not much is really said about John. We know the circumstances surrounding his birth and then his ministry baptizing people and his death. But we know that once John discovered God’s purpose for his life, he went and did it. He made ready the people for the Messiah, and once He came, what did he need to live for? He fulfilled his calling, it was finished. He spent his whole life discovering his purpose in life, then Jesus comes and takes over in a sense, and what is left for John to do? In fact, here is the account of when Jesus’ ministry was starting and John’s ministry was coming to a close – look at John’s attitude in John 3:26-30…
They came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan—the one you testified about—look, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him. To this John replied, “A person can receive only what is given them from heaven. You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah but am sent ahead of him.’ The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less.”
There, his ministry is complete! Jesus has come, he realizes he must get out of the way, allow Jesus to become greater than him, for that was the whole purpose of John’s ministry – to exalt Jesus. (Ours too btw!) He realized that a person can only receive what is given him from heaven. But what happens with John from here? He has completed his mission, he is not an old man, what else is there for him to do?
After this sometime, do you remember when John sent his disciples while he was in prison, to ask Jesus whether he was really the Messiah, or whether he should look for another? And of course, Jesus confirms that He is indeed the One whom John was looking for. I think John knew in his heart, but he had lost his purpose in life. He had felt like he completed his mission, and there was nothing left to do, so he began questioning whether Jesus was the One or not, because if He wasn’t, well, he had something to do again! He could start his ministry all over again!
But once he received confirmation, it wasn’t long after until he was beheaded. I think John just lost hope for his future, and couldn’t see that maybe he also had something else to accomplish for His kingdom. Well, that’s one way of looking at it anyway. I am only speculating of course.
But have you ever lost hope in this way? Maybe you felt like you arrived and it wasn’t the way you expected it to be. You focussed your whole life to getting to that point, and you’re finally there and it just turned out crap. Now you don’t know what else to do with your life. Or you loved it and finished the task, but…what now from here? What do you do?
I have one thing to say, and I know it sounds sooo cliché, but: Don’t lose hope, God does have a plan. He always has a plan. Don’t let your life be “cut off,” much like John’s head, (I know, such a sad analogy, but true, couldn’t think of any other way of putting it really!)
God has a plan, keep going, keep looking to Jesus…Don’t lose hope.