After introducing his readers to the reality of the existence and glory of God seen in the light of Christ, John turns his attention to the last Old Testament prophet, John the Baptist. The Gospel writer says in John 1:6-8, “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light that all might believe through him.  He was not the light but came to bear witness about the light.” A web blogger talked about John the Baptist and said, “Most everyone, believer and non-believer alike, has heard of John the Baptist. He is one of the most significant and well-known figures in the Bible. While John was known as ‘the Baptist,’ he was the first prophet called by God since Malachi some 400 years earlier. John’s coming was foretold over 700 years previously by another prophet….”[1] That other prophet was Isaiah. The passage being referred to is Isaiah 40:3-5. It says, “A voice cries: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.  Every valley shall be lifted, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.’”

John’s prophetic mission was to shine the light “on the light of the world.” God presented Himself to the world in the person of His Son, Jesus. He was made flesh, and everyone could see him. He was the light! He cleared up things. He made, and makes, sense out of everything. John was not the light, as we’ll read later in this, the fourth gospel. “Seeing” John was not important. Boice says, “Certainly, John was a charismatic figure. We read that droves of people went out to him, much as they later did to hear the Lord Jesus Christ. This following was so substantial that it even disturbed the priests and Levites in Jerusalem, who sent delegates to investigate John’s teaching.”[2] John was not the light, he was the “sound.” Quoting the prophecy concerning him, John the Baptist said that he was just a voice crying out in the wilderness. John insisted on growing less and less significant as Christ grew more and more significant. John had some extraordinary humility. He often denied being anyone of importance but simply wanted to point the way to the “Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world.” Jesus was the point of John’s ministry.

Psalm 1 tells us about the “one” who lives the perfect life. The Psalmist lists all the wonderful traits this person will manifest. He doesn’t listen to wicked advice. He’s not a scoffer. He delights in the law of the Lord. He doesn’t participate in the popular sins of the day. Other things are also associated with the “one” praised in the first Psalm. The only perfect person in this scenario is the Lord Jesus, Himself. We are all sinners and have fallen short of God’s standards. But Jesus didn’t. This is why we all need a savior. The one that John pointed to. The preaching of Psalm 1 focuses primarily on trying to live up to the standard presented there. I don’t think any mere human could do it. It seems more relevant to point out from that Psalm how far we fall short and how Jesus lived up to that standard for us. Jesus is “The One.” Jesus taught us that “the one” who humbles himself will be exalted. John certainly did humble himself. He wasn’t the light. He wasn’t the prophet. He was just a voice. Yet, when Jesus was questioned about John, he said, “Among those born of a woman, there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist, yet he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than John.”


[2] Boice, James Montgomery. 2005. The Gospel of John: An Expositional Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.