John the Baptist, Herald for the Messiah

Witness of the Lord

John the Baptist, Herald for the Messiah

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In ancient times, when a king traveled from place to place, messengers ran ahead to announce his coming and encourage the people to prepare to receive the royal visitor. Messengers did not take this role upon themselves, but were appointed to it. So too was John an envoy, a herald chosen by God to announce his reign and the imminent coming of his Son.

True to his mission as a herald, John neither claimed more than God assigned to him nor attempted to promote himself. He was willing to fulfill his role as forerunner and to step aside at Jesus’ appearance; in fact, John even pointed his own disciples toward Jesus (John 1:35-41). The Baptist’s humility and genuine readiness to step off center stage are clear in his final witness to Jesus: “He who has the bride is the bridegroom; the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice; therefore this joy of mine is now full. He must increase, but I must decrease” (3:29-30).

Little is known of John’s relationship with Jesus. We have no idea whether the two grew up with knowledge of one another, though Luke describes them as distant cousins (Luke 1:36).…

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