This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” He confessed and did not deny it, but confessed, “I am not the Messiah.” And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the prophet?” He answered, “No.” Then they said to him, “Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’” as the prophet Isaiah said. -John 1:19-23 NRSV
The Jews of this day seemed to imagine that the Messiah would be some sort of resurrected prophet. It seemed that they were fixated on some sort of reincarnation of a powerful man like Elijah. I love the way that John responded by denying such claims and not even acknowledging his prophetic gift. It speaks to me of why Jesus called him great.
John seemed to possess a confident humility about who he was and was not. Unlike the religious leaders of his day, he seemed to reject any visions of grandeur. He was the perfect forerunner to the Messiah. Because of humility the Baptist was able to fade into the background when Jesus came on the scene saying that Jesus must increase and he must decrease. He challenges each of us to do the same today as we make straight the way of the Lord.
I am proud Lord. I seem to always be putting myself first. Help me to make straight your way in me.
... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on the Gospel of John.