The Gospel of John is full of references to darkness and light. In the previous passages, we read about the darkness and how the Word came into the world and was a light in the darkness, but the darkness could not comprehend (or conquer) it. Now in verses six through nine light regains prominence. We read:
6. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
7. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.
8. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.
9. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.
The John we are talking about is John the Baptist, Jesus’ second cousin. When Mary found out she was pregnant, she went to visit her cousin, Elizabeth. These two women were at the opposite ends of the age spectrum. Mary was maybe 12 to 15 years old at the time and Elizabeth was past her child-bearing years and had never had a child. Luke writes that when the two women met, John leaped in the womb because Mary was carrying the Christ child.
We don’t know much about John, but we do know that he was bold in his words and preached the truth of God. People came from all over Judea to hear him preach and to be baptized. For his forth-rightness in calling out sin when he saw it and in his preaching, he was beheaded by Herod as a gift to his wife’s daughter for dancing an erotic dance at a dinner party. But preaching the truth of God was the reason he came to be on earth – to bear witness to the Light.
That Light was Jesus
The life of Jesus was the light of men. John knew this and his mission was to preach and teach mankind the truth of that light that they would believe. He was sent by God for this reason. He knew his life’s purpose was to be the witness to Jesus, that through him, John, “all men might believe.” He knew he was not the Savior, but was instead a herald of the news of the Savior.
John the Baptist knew his place in the grand scheme of God’s plan.
Many people at the time questioned whether he was Elijah, which was a sign that the Messiah was on the horizon, soon to appear. John made clear to the authorities when they questioned him that he was not Elijah. He was, instead, “the voice of one crying in the wilderness” to prepare the people for the coming of Messiah “to make straight the way of the Lord.” He was to clear the path through the desert brush and prepare the soil for seeding.
John was humble, not proud.
What I find important and impressive in John is that he wasn’t tempted to claim to be the Messiah or Elijah. Think how easy it would have been for him to slip into one of those roles – but he didn’t, he knew his role was a supporting role. He had no grand illusions of being the best or the most important. He knew his job was to set the stage, prepare the people for the coming Messiah, and clear the clutter in the path for the true Light for every man, woman and child in the world.
John had a huge following and a large number of disciples – John the Apostle being one of them. Yet, for all the followers and admires, and all the disciples and most likely all the accolades that he heard, he didn’t let it go to his head and puff him up. He remained humble and he understood his work on the earth to be the most important work that any man could be called to do.
Thank you for reading and God bless.