The Lamb of God


The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said,
       Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! [John 1:29 NLT]



Many religious images arise when one hears the phrase "Lamb of God". Old Testament sacrifices used lambs as sin offerings. Some see Jesus in that light. I am not one of those people. I think it a bit more accurate to see Jesus as the lamb used at Passover to deliver the Jews from death.

Jesus seemed to allude to this when he shared a last supper with his disciples. During that meal he compared his body and blood with the Passover lamb as he spoke about eating his body and drinking his blood. The imagery speaks deeply of how sin is defeated and taken away as we are united to Jesus.

Thank you Lord that you have delivered, are delivering and will deliver me from sin.


... this devotion is part of a series about John the Baptist.

Unending Life


The one who believes in the Son has eternal life. The one who rejects the Son will not see life,
but God’s wrath remains on him. [John 3:36 NET]


aiónios. As in this verse, this Greek word often translated 'eternal'. I like that rendering. Yet I think that 'unending' captures the meaning of the word a bit better. Only God is eternal. He has no beginning or end. We step into the life of God when we are spiritually born. In that sense our life becomes unending.

In contrast, the one who rejects Jesus does not have life unending because they have nothing in them that survives death. These go the way of all earthly creation. These return to the earth. Yet those who believe have something unending in them. Their bodies return to the earth but their spirits ascend to heaven.

Yet there are those who embrace the concept of the innate immortality of the human soul. These feel that all humans have unending life. Some of them think that all go to heaven while some see others surviving death to live unendingly in hell. I disagree with both. Unending life comes from believing in the Son. We are not born with unending or immortal life. Our lives become immortal when we are spiritually born.

Be Thou my vision Lord. May your beauty continue to captivate my heart from this life to the next.


... this devotion is part of a series about John the Baptist.

Everything is in His Hands


The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands. [John 3:35 NLT]

What do you think it means for everything to be in the hands of the Son? Some think it describes a Messiah that is in control of everything. Others see it more as a reference to the redemptive force of the Messiah. I tend to see it more as the latter. The ministry of redemption is a major messianic theme.

I love that God is able to take our sins and mistakes and turn them into something beautiful. His hands are those of a divine potter. Molding us. Shaping us. Adding holy water to our hard clay. Bringing beauty from lumps of clay. It is a beautiful image of what is means to be in the strong hands of the Son.

Help us to sense your hands of love Lord. Cause us to rest as you mold us into beautiful people.


... this devotion is part of a series about John the Baptist.

the Spirit without Measure


    For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God;
    for He gives the Spirit without measure. [John 3:34 NASB]



I have often heard it taught that only Jesus had the Spirit without measure. The idea comes from this verse by folks who believe that the second "He" is referring to the Father. Yet how would we read that verse if we believed the second "He" referred to Jesus. It would mean something very different.

I think that the Baptist may have understood that Jesus is the Giver and we are the receivers. It makes sense. God gives without limit. His measure, like his love, has no boundary. There is nothing we need that He will not give. He has given the Spirit to each of us without measure. Praise the Lord.

Teach me Lord to walk in a way that displays your Spirit without measure in my life.


... this devotion is part of a series about John the Baptist.

Messianic Testimony


Anyone who accepts his testimony can affirm that God is true. [John 3:33 NLT]

I wonder what the Baptist meant when he said "his testimony"? The Greek word μαρτυρία can be translated as witness, evidence, testimony or reputation. Later on in his gospel John quotes Jesus saying:
“I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” [John 8:12 NLT]
The religious leaders rejected his testimony at every turn. In reality Jesus often testified about himself claiming to be one with God. His life and ministry were a witness to the nature and character of God.

Yet even today many reject the witness of the Messiah. They find no evidence that Jesus was who he said he was. They discount his reputation. These, like the religious leaders of old, refuse to accept the testimony of Christ and those who have been changed by his testimony. In doing so they reject God.

We accept your testimony dear Lord. We affirm that you are true.


... this devotion is part of a series about John the Baptist.

He testifies about what he has seen and heard ...


He testifies about what he has seen and heard, but how few believe what he tells them! [John 3:32 NLT]

I often say that I am a Red Letter Christian. I think the words that Jesus spoke (i.e. the red letters) carry more weight than others in the bible. As the Baptist speaks here, Jesus has a greater knowledge than religious scholars and theologians because his testimony comes from his heavenly life before this life.

Misunderstanding this idea, many put the words of Paul, James or Peter on the same level as the words of Christ. Some do the same with Old Testament writings. It is why so many did not see Jesus as the Messiah. How so few believed what Christ told them. Yet some did believe his testimony and were transformed.

The challenge remains for us today. Will we read the scriptures through the testimony of Jesus or will we see his words through the filter of what others say about Jesus. When we read the bible, will we consider the life, teachings and ministry of the One who has seen and heard things in heaven? Or something else?

Open our ears to hear your testimony in our hearts Lord. And our inner eyes to see heavenly things.


... this devotion is part of a series about John the Baptist.

He has come from Above


He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less. “He has come from above and is greater than anyone else. [John 3:30-31 NLT]

I think that John the Baptist heard the incarnational story all of his life. From his mom and from his second cousin Mary. The tale of how the angel visited Mary and told her of a son that would be conceived by the Holy Spirit. And how John leapt in his mom's womb when a pregnant Mary visited their home.

From early on John knew who Jesus was. He knew that cousin was a hybrid. Part earthly. Part heavenly. John believed the story and accepted his role in it. It is why he lived simply. Why he preached repentance. Why he baptized. He humbly became less so that the One from above would become more.

With John I agree Lord. You must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.


... this devotion is part of a series about John the Baptist.

the Bridegroom’s friend


It is the bridegroom who marries the bride, and the bridegroom’s friend is simply glad to stand with him and hear his vows. Therefore, I am filled with joy at his success. He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less. [John 3:29-30 NLT]

John's description of his ministry as an usher or a best man at a good friend's wedding paints a beautiful picture. The wedding is never about the groom's, or the bride's, attendants. In a sense these roles only exist to serve the betrothed couple in their union. So it was with John and his forerunning ministry.

The picture painted, in these verses and many others, is what it means to be a minister of the gospel. In fact the image can be used to represent any sincere follower of Christ. The picture is one of love and humility. Of becoming less. Of serving a divine Friend. Of wanting His will, and His happiness, more than our own.

Teach us Lord what it means to decrease as you increase in our lives.


... this devotion is part of a series about John the Baptist.

I am filled with joy at his success.


John’s disciples came to him and said ... the one you identified as the Messiah, is also baptizing people. And everybody is going to him instead of coming to us. ... John replied ... no one can receive anything unless God gives it from heaven ... I am filled with joy at his success. [John 3:26-29 NLT]

I wonder what it was like for the Baptist and his disciples to see John's ministry wane after Jesus's baptism? These short verses give us a peek into how differently John and his disciples are processing the rise of Jesus' ministry. The disciples seem to be experiencing a sense of loss. Yet John is filled with Joy.

I seem to remember an adage that speaks of how one experiences loss says more about their character then how they experience gain. It is sometimes difficult to watch another succeed. In times like these our own insecurities are often brought to the surface. And sadness, instead of joy, takes hold of us.

I think that the secret to finding joy in such times involves seeing another's success as something given from heaven. In that light, a competitive spirit is quelled. And success, in ministry anyways, is seen as an opportunity for rejoicing. Even so, having this perspective is a matter of grace and humility.

Thank you Lord for the many opportunities that we have to rejoice with our friends in their successes.


... this devotion is part of a series about John the Baptist.

If you have food, share it with those who are hungry.


The crowds asked, “What should we do?” John replied, “If you have two shirts, give one to the poor. If you have food, share it with those who are hungry.” [Luke 3:10-11 NLT]

John speaks on several occasions of offering fruit of repentance. It bears noting that John's instruction is not a high minded call to attend worship services or to offer sacrifices at the temple. The evidence the Baptist wants is so practical in nature. Be generous with your clothing and your food. So elegantly simple.

In the ensuing verses he tells tax collectors to not illegally line their pockets with extra taxes. He tells others: “Don’t extort money or make false accusations. And be content with your pay.” The outcome that John wants is not the overthrowing of Roman occupation but of the sin that has held men captive.

Generally speaking, sinning and repenting are never private matters. Our sin affects our neighbors. Yet our repentance can affect them on an even greater scale. When we repent, our neighbors are clothed and fed by the generosity of repentance. And our communities are made better because of our repentance.

Teach us Lord to offer fruit of repentance that helps our neighbors and shows your love for them.


... this devotion is part of a series about John the Baptist.

He Existed Long Before Me


He is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘A man is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me.’ [John 1:30 NLT]


John the Baptist was actually older than Jesus. Yet in this verse he speaks of the Messiah as one who existed before him. It is hard to know what was going through John's mind but it does seem that he embraced the idea that the Christ would be one who existed in some form before coming to earth.

Later in this gospel the apostle John records Jesus saying something similar when he spoke of existing before Abraham. There seemed to be an understanding that the Messiah was greater than a human being. There are other verses that teach this preexistence. It is hard to understand it with our brains.

Even so, it reminds of why so many follow Jesus Christ. He is more than a great teacher. Or insightful prophet. Or suffering savior. We follow Jesus because he alone can show us the Father. He alone knew the Father before his birth. In him we see what God is like because he existed long before us.

Open our eyes Father that we might see you in the life of the One existed long before us.


... this devotion is part of a series about John the Baptist.

The Lamb of God


The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said,
“Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! [John 1:29 NLT]



I wonder what the Jews thought when they heard the Baptist say these words? I think that the imagery is devastating. The Old Testament teaches us about the fate of spotless lambs. These innocent animals are killed on an altar to atone for sins. In that sense, the sacrifice of an innocent makes clean the guilty.

Our inclination is to associate the Lamb of God with the cross that Jesus died on. While that is certainly a good interpretation, I suggest to you that the entire life of Christ was a beautiful example of a living sacrifice. A life that cleansed the ones who heard his teaching and experienced his compassion.

The Apostle Paul admonished us to live such a life when he wrote to the Romans teaching them to offer their bodies as a living and holy sacrifice. The message lingers today. Our lives can have a cleansing effect on those who are broken and without hope. In that sense we are lambs that God can use to cleanse.

I offer myself anew to you today Lord. Use me to help people who are broken and hopeless.


... this devotion is part of a series about John the Baptist.

What right do you have to baptize?


Then the Pharisees who had been sent asked him, “If you aren’t the Messiah or Elijah or the Prophet, what right do you have to baptize?” [John 1:24-25 NLT]


I go to a church where one needs to be ordained by the denomination to baptize. Many denominations have such sacramental requirements. These, like the Pharisees, often see baptism, and other religious rites, as ones that need to be done by people who are submitted to their authority.

While I understand the reasons that such groups think this way I simply disagree with their view. John was called by God to baptize. Neither he, Jesus nor any of the early disciples needed earthly permission to baptize. In like manner believers today, when called upon by God, should obey God rather than men.

In balance, I suggest to you that the authority of religious groups is not something to be taken lightly. Neither should the ministries of the Baptist or Jesus be used to excuse rebellious behaviors. Anything we do in the name of God should be done with much humility. Any authority we have is a gift from God.

Help us to be open to the opportunities before us Lord. Grant us the boldness and humility to obey you.


... this devotion is part of a series about John the Baptist.

I am not the Messiah.


This was John’s testimony when the Jewish leaders sent priests and Temple assistants from Jerusalem to ask John, “Who are you?” He came right out and said, “I am not the Messiah.” [John 1:19-20 NLT]


Luke tells us that "Everyone was expecting the Messiah to come soon, and they were eager to know whether John might be the Messiah." What was it about the Baptist that seemed messianic to so many? Surely he had a prophetic message and appearance. He preached a strong message of repentance and forgiveness. He stood up to both religious and civil leaders. He simply seemed messianic.

John seemed to fit the expectation. Yet he himself understood that he was the forerunner, not the Messiah. John knew who he was and who he was not. I love this about John. As one who has succumbed to visions of grandeur, I can testify of the humility required to defeat such delusions. And in his case, John showed tremendous humility as he watched his ministry decrease and the ministry of the Messiah increase.

I am prideful Lord. Teach me to defeat pride and walk humbly with you.


... this devotion is part of a series about John the Baptist.

Children of Abraham


Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God. Don’t just say to each other, ‘We’re safe, for we are descendants of Abraham.’ That means nothing, for I tell you, God can create children of Abraham from these very stones. [Luke 3:8 NLT]


Later on in the scriptures Paul writes to the Galatians telling them that "the real children of Abraham are those who put their faith in God." Being a spiritually born person has never been about bloodlines. Never been about Christian denominations. Being a child of Abraham has always been about faith.

If history teaches us anything it instructs us that bad things are sometimes done by religious people. So it was back then with the religious leaders. Seeing these come for baptism John wants evidence that these folks have turned to God. In doing so he is teaching that baptism is an issue of faith not heritage.

Teach us Lord how to live as true children of Abraham. Teach us to walk by faith.


... this devotion is part of a series about John the Baptist.

a Voice from Heaven


One day when the crowds were being baptized, Jesus himself was baptized. As he was praying, the heavens opened, and the Holy Spirit, in bodily form, descended on him like a dove. And a voice from heaven said, “You are my dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy.” [Luke 3:21-22 NLT]

Can you imagine the look on the Baptist's face when he saw Jesus walking towards him? Matthew's gospel tells us that John was unwilling to baptize him. John's baptismal message did not seem to apply to Jesus. He had no sin to repent of. Yet in this moment Jesus was teaching us a deeper meaning of baptism.

As he arose from the waters Jesus heard the voice of the Father and experienced the presence of the Holy Spirit. In this sense baptism is much more than an evidence of repentance or the receiving of forgiveness. As we open ourselves to the baptismal waters we also open ourselves to the heart of God.

In vulnerable moments such as this, God can come to us. Speak to us. Empower us. The deeper meaning of baptism is not about sin. Or repentance. Or water. The substance of baptism is that Christlike humility draws us closer to God. To a place where we identify as dearly loved children of God.

Lord help me to humble myself as you humbled yourself in baptism.


... this devotion is part of a series about John the Baptist.

greater than I am


John announced: Someone is coming soon who is greater than I am—so much greater that I’m not even worthy to stoop down like a slave and untie the straps of his sandals. [Mark 1:7 NLT]

I think that the first step towards recognizing the Messiah is always a sense that there is One who is greater than you are. It is a simple but complex matter. Simple because it is a somewhat binary acknowledgement. Complex because one must often reject every messianic image that they ever had.

The Jews, John included, recognized that the Messiah would be a great leader. What they had difficulty doing is understanding the type of leader that he would be. Consequently many did not see Jesus as the Messiah. These who expected a warrior king could not accept a compassionate servant leader.

Help us Lord to see past what our eyes can see. Open up our inner eyes that we might see you.


... this devotion is part of a series about John the Baptist.

the Coming Wrath


When the crowds came to John for baptism, he said, “You brood of snakes! Who warned you to flee the coming wrath? [Luke 3:7 NLT]

The idea of a "coming wrath" seems to be one that persists to this day. Teachings about apocalyptic judgment on the earth are still fodder for books and movies. So why does John speak of the coming wrath. And why does he feel this message is necessary to prepare the way for the Messiah?

My first thought is that wrath is probably one of the most misunderstood words in religious circles. Images of a lightning bolt tossing Zeus comes to mind as people image a deity who is angry with humanity. This image seems far removed from the Messiah (i.e. Jesus) that the Baptist is announcing in the gospels.

The people of the Baptist's day, John included, were expecting a very different sort of Messiah. Many folks could not see Jesus as the Messiah because they were expecting a warrior-like messiah. One who would execute the coming wrath on all who opposed God. These saw God more like Zeus than Jesus.

Help us Lord to understand that your message is love and not wrath.


... this devotion is part of a series about John the Baptist.

People should be Baptized


John went from place to place on both sides of the Jordan River, preaching that people should be baptized to show that they had repented of their sins and turned to God to be forgiven. [Luke 3:3 NLT]

Baptism. Is there a more controversial word in religious circles? Immersion. Pouring. Sprinkling. Sacrament. All polarizing words that are sometimes connected to the word and idea of baptism. Interesting that the focus in this verse is not on how people should be baptised but why they should be baptised.

I sometimes think of this way. The outer baptism should be the result of an inner baptism. Not the opposite. Yet in reality people are sometimes baptised externally who have had no inner baptism. The issue is spiritual. Not physical. People should be baptized as an evidence of an internal transformation.

When this verse speaks of baptism as a way "to show that they had repented of their sins and turned to God to be forgiven", it is speaking of the inner transformation that caused these to turn to God in repentance. These who came to John had already been forgiven. Baptism was an evidence of it.

Dear Lord. Help me to remember my baptism. Show me ways that I can testify to the inner baptism.


... this devotion is part of a series about John the Baptist.

a Message from God


It was now the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius, the Roman emperor. ... At this time a message from God came to John son of Zechariah, who was living in the wilderness. [Luke 3:1,3 NLT]

Ever wonder why people responded so greatly to John's message? What was it about this message from God that attracted so many to it? I think that it might be related to the idea of simplicity. In a sense John was not telling people what they did not really know. Most people understand that they are sinful.

The message that John offered was a simple one. Repentance. Baptism. Forgiveness. There was no preaching or teaching about Mosaic Law. Just a simple call to turn to God. This call was not like the one that demanded that followers obey religious rules. It required only a desire to follow the Lord.

This simple message holds true even today. People understand that they are sinful and need forgiveness. It is so simple. Yet so difficult. Simple because God is willing. Difficult because we are unwilling. We are hesitant to let go of control. Reluctant to walk into the water. Afraid of what it means to follow God

Help us Lord to repent. To let go of control. To trust you, with all of our heart, with our lives.


... this devotion is part of a series about John the Baptist.

Accepting Godly Wisdom


He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children,
and he will cause those who are rebellious to accept the wisdom of the godly. [Luke 1:17 NLT]



The prophetic word uttered by Malachi included turning "the hearts of children to their fathers." Perhaps the angelic word spoken by Gabriel omitted that part because of the natural reaction that kids have to parents who love them? It reminds me that that the kindness of God leads each of us to repentance.

In some sense, repentance is an act that follows the acceptance of godly wisdom. Sometimes we see this in reverse when the phrase "the fear of the Lord leads to wisdom" is used in the scriptures. To fear, or be in awe of, God is wisdom in and of itself. And this wisdom is not an end unto itself.

As John preached in the wilderness many accepted the wisdom of his words and repented of their rebelliousness towards God. As these traversed the baptismal waters of the Jordan they gained a new wisdom. A wisdom that turned their hearts to God and to each other.

Thank you Lord for the wisdom that you have given me. I confess my need for more wisdom.


... this devotion is part of a series about John the Baptist.

A Man with the Spirit and Power of Elijah


He will be a man with the spirit and power of Elijah. [Luke 1:17 NLT]

What do you think of when you read about the angel Gabriel declaring that John the Baptist would be one with the spirit and power of Elijah? My first reaction is to think of how Elijah did amazing feats like calling down fire on an altar or parting the Jordan River. Yet John the Baptist did nothing like that.

So the issue, for me, is what did the angel mean. If not miraculous power then what kind of power is he referencing? I think he is speaking of prophetic power. The ability to speak God's words in the spirit of a prophet like Elijah. We see this in the ways that John confronted people in the gospel accounts.

John exercised prophetic power when he publicly criticized Herod Antipas for marrying his brother’s wife Herodias. It reminds me of how the prophet Nathan confronted King David over his dealings with Bathsheba and her husband. In similar occasions John showed himself to be a powerful prophet.

Yet perhaps the best example is how John understood that his prophetic mission was primarily to point to the Messiah. At the outset he called Jesus the Lamb of God. He ministered separately but knew that his ministry would decrease as Jesus' ministry increased. In this he modeled powerful humility.

Help me Lord to be a man of the spirit and a man of power.


... this devotion is part of a series about John the Baptist.

He Will Turn Many to God


He will turn many Israelites to the Lord their God. [Luke 1:16 NLT]

In these words spoken about John the Baptist, the Angel Gabriel could have said that John would turn many away from their sins. Instead, he phrased it differently. I love that he spoke about turning to God rather than turning from sin. This "turning to" is, to me, is the true and essential meaning of repentance.

Repentance is not the the turning over of a new leaf. It is not making a resolution to do, or not do, something. To repent is to turn to God. To accept, by the grace of God, His invitation to walk with Him. When I did that, when I turned to God in prayer, my life was changed and my world was turned upside down.

My relationship with God changed everything in my life and it still does. He is the spiritual air that I breathe and the hope that I have. My days are filled with conversations with him. I sense his presence in the mundane and in the sublime. I cannot imagine what my life would be without God in my life.

Cause us to turn to you Lord and to be filled with your Spirit as we turn.


... this devotion is part of a series about John the Baptist.

He will be filled with the Holy Spirit


He will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even before his birth. ... At the sound of Mary’s greeting, Elizabeth’s child leaped within her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. [Luke 1:15,41]


There have been two visits to earth by the angel Gabriel. He first visits Zechariah, husband of Elizabeth, foretelling the birth of his son John, the Baptist. Gabriel later visits the virgin, Mary, prophesying the birth of her son Jesus, the Messiah. These two visits are woven together as Mary visits her cousin Elizabeth.

What do you think it means to be filled with the Holy Spirit? Have you ever considered the idea that one can be filled with the Spirit before they are born? One thing that this passage seems to teach us is that this is not a 'normal' occurrence. This spiritual filling 'normally' happens after birth when one is born again.

Yet John's filling was different. The Baptist was filled in his mother's womb. In the presence of the unborn Messiah the "child leaped within her". And as he leapt, the way was being prepared for the coming of the Messiah. And in that sense, we begin our preparation when we are filled with the Holy Spirit.

Come Holy Spirit. Fill us that we might prepare your way in this time of Lent.


... this devotion is part of a series about John the Baptist.

Great in the Eyes of the Lord


Many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the eyes of the Lord. [Luke 1:14-15 NLT]


These words could have been spoken about Jesus. Yet they were spoken about John the Baptist, by the angel Gabriel to Zechariah, to John's father. I wonder what was going through Zechariah's mind when he heard the angel speak these words? What did being "great in the eyes of the Lord" mean to him?

What do you think it means to be "great in the eyes of the Lord"? Jesus put it this way:
"I say to you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he." [Luke 7:28 NASB]
I believe that Jesus refers not to others but to himself as the one "who is least in the kingdom of God". He is the least because he is the servant of all. In these few words he describes what it means to be great in the eyes of the Lord. To be great one must be least. Put others first. Be a servant. Walk humbly.

Lord. I am proud. Help me to humble myself. Put others first. And follow your example in serving others.


... this devotion is part of a series about John the Baptist.

Prepare the way for the Lord’s coming!


It began just as the prophet Isaiah had written:
“Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, and he will prepare your way. He is a voice shouting in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord’s coming! Clear the road for him!’”
This messenger was John the Baptist. [Mark 1:1-4 NLT]


Today is Ash Wednesday. The beginning of Lent. A season of reflection, introspection and preparation. A good day to begin a series of devotions about John the Baptist. A transitional figure. A bridge between the old and the new. An elder cousin to the coming Messiah. A passionate preacher of change.

In difficult seasons of change it is helpful to know that times of transition are essential to God's plans in our lives. These times present us with opportunities to let go of the old and embrace the new. To clear the road of past obstacles. To prepare the way to find God in a new way in a new season.

Teach me Lord, to prepare the way for your coming. Help me to let go of the old and embrace the new.


... this devotion is part of a series about John the Baptist.