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JOHN - The Light Shines in the Darkness
A Bible Study Course on the Gospel of Christ according to John
PART 1 - The Shining of the Divine Light (John 1:1 - 4:54)
B - Christ Leads his Disciples from the Sphere of Repentance to the joy of the Wedding (John 1:19 - 2:12)

1. A delegation from the Sanhedrin questions the Baptist (John 1:19-28)

JOHN 1:19-21
19 This is John’s testimony, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” 20 He declared, and didn’t deny, but he declared, “I am not the Christ.” 21 They asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the prophet?” He answered, “No.”

A revival took place in the Jordan valley, focused on the Baptist. Thousands were undeterred by the wild roads from the high mountains to the deep and torrid gorge. They came down to the Baptist in order to hear the voice of this new prophet, and be baptized by him for the remission of their sins. The crowds are usually not ignorant, as the haughty often think, but they have a hunger and longing for divine guidance. Quickly they can discern the power and authority in those who possess it. They did not want to hear about rituals and rules, but longed to encounter God.

The members of the Sanhedrin, the highest religious court of the Jews, were aware of this revival. They sent a delegation of priests and tough helpers, who were used to slaughter sacrificial offerings. They were to question the Baptist, so that if he appeared to be blaspheming they could eliminate him.

So this meeting between the Baptist and the delegates from the Sanhedrin was formal and dangerous. The evangelist John calls these men coming from Jerusalem Jews. With this name he discloses one of the themes of his gospel. For at that time Jewish thought was rigidly literalist as regards the Law, full of fanaticism and envy, so that Jerusalem was to become the center of opposition to the Spirit of Christ. Not the people of the Old Testament as a whole but the band of priests, especially the Pharisees, were the watchful enemies of every religious development swerving away from their plans and control. This is why they decided to trap the Baptist with their questions.

"Who are you?" was the first question they addressed to John, who was surrounded by a penitent crowd listening to him attentively. "Who authorized you to speak? Have you studied the Law and Theology? Do you consider yourself commissioned by God, or do you even see yourself as the Messiah?"

John the Baptist saw the deceit that was behind these queries and he did not lie. If he would say, "I am the Messiah", they would condemn him and he would be stoned; and if he would say, "I'm not the Messiah", people would leave him and no longer regard him as important. Abraham's descendants at that time were suffering under the shame of being colonized by the Romans. They longed for a Savior, who would deliver them from the yoke of the Romans.

The Baptist confessed openly that he was not the Christ neither the son of God. He did not accept a title that went against the guidance of the Holy Spirit. He chose to remain meek and faithful to his calling, trusting in God that He would in time confirm his message.

After their first stab the delegation went on to ask him, "Are you Elijah?" This name refers to the promise in Malachi 4:5, where Scripture says that before the coming of the Messiah, a prophet would appear in the spirit and power of the famed prophet Elijah, who brought down fire from heaven on his foes, and raised a dead person with God's permission. Everybody regarded this outstanding hero as a leader of their nation. But John humbled himself, even though in truth he was that promised prophet, as Christ later on witnessed concerning him (Matthew 11:14).

Then the priests asked him if he was that specific promised prophet, concerning whom Moses had foretold that he would, like himself, grant a new and great covenant (Deuteronomy 18:15). Behind this question was their desire to know who had sent him to speak like a prophet. So they persisted in asking who he was and what authority he had, and whether he spoke by revelation or for himself.

The Baptist declined to take on himself the role and rank of Moses. He did not want to set up a new covenant with God without being commissioned to do so. Nor did he want to lead his people to military victory. He remained faithful in the temptation and did not become conceited or proud. At the same time he was wise and did not answer his enemies with more than the necessary words. It is important that we apply these principles in our lives.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, we thank you for sending John the Baptist to our world, a man who never became proud. Forgive us our pride of thinking that we are greater and more important than others. Teach us to understand that we are unworthy servants and that you alone are great.


  1. What were the aims of the questions posed by the delegates from the highest Jewish court?


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