God sent a man, John the Baptist, to tell about the light so that everyone might believe because of his testimony. John himself was not the light; he was simply a witness to tell about the light. The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.
John 1:6-9 NLT
Remember John? Although his coming as the forerunner of the Messiah was prophesied in the Old Testament (Malachi 3:1), we first heard of him by name in Luke chapter one. His father, Zachariah, was visited by the angel Gabriel to tell him that he and his wife, Elizabeth, would have a baby in their old age. The forerunner of the Messiah, God’s Son!
And so John was special from before his birth, being filled with the Holy Spirit, and set apart from the beginning (Luke 1:15-17). Now in John 1, we find him fulfilling the purpose for which he had been sent.
It was an austere life, living in the desert and surviving on what was there – locusts and wild honey (Matthew 3:4 and Mark 1:6). It was Jesus who gave voice to the shared sentiment that physical food was less important than the spiritual food they enjoyed while doing the work they were sent to do (John 4:32).
Living in the desert also gave him alone time with God, in preparation for his heavenly assignment. When the time came, he was a powerful, Spirit-filled preacher. People were coming from all around to be baptized by him, repenting of their sins and preparing for the coming of the Messiah. Such an exciting time to be living! Much like today, when we are looking forward to (and hopefully preparing for) the Messiah’s second coming!
The torch has been passed to us after 2000 years. Are we giving all we have to proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ? Is it more important to us than anything else – food and creature comforts included?
Yes, John would say to us today, “The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!”
Mark 1:15b NLT