Now this is the testimony of John when the Jews sent Priests and Levites to him from Jerusalem to inquire of his identity. And he explicitly confessed; he did not deny but confessed, “I am not the Messiah.” They then asked him “who then are you? Elijah?” and he said “I’m not.” “Are you the prophet?” they retorted; although John was among the great Prophets, he wasn’t aware of the magnitude. They then asked him, “who are you? So that we may give in an uncertain those who sent us.” John replied, “I am a voice of the crying in the wilderness”
They had been sent to ask John, “Why then are you baptizing? If you are not the Christ, nor Elijah nor the prophet; what authority do you have to baptize?” At that time, the Sanhedrin and the religious leaders were after him to find out why he was doing such things. In terms of appearance, John was looked wild and his clothing was not white as theirs was. All the while, locusts became his custom food. In the twenty sixth verse, John answered them, saying, “I baptize in water, but among you stand one who you do not know. It is he who comes after me whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose.”
The next day, he saw Jesus coming towards him and he said, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. This is He, of whom I said, after me comes a man who has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.” John’s statement was not possible for one to say without revelation from the Holy Spirit. When examining John’s background from the book of Matthew, we see that John came from the family of Zechariah and Elizabeth. Mary who became the mother of Jesus, was a relative to them. When she came to visit, Elisabeth had already been pregnant with John for six months, whereas, Mary just conceived. From the beginning, there was a spiritual connection between John and Jesus though they were both in their mothers’ wombs. After their birth, they grew up as cousins; John being about six months older than Jesus. From the context of scripture, I believe they spent time together growing up.
As we read on in verse thirty-one, John says, “I did not recognize Him, but so that He might be manifested to Israel,” Although Jesus was his cousin, he didn’t know that He was the Messiah. John repeats later himself saying, “I didn’t recognize him but He who sent me to baptize in water, He said to me, on whom you see the Spirit descendent and remaining upon Him. This is the one who were of a water who baptize us in the Holy Spirit just I have myself see unit and have testified that this is the son of God.”
In this passage we see a great shift take place. John had no idea that His cousin Jesus was the promised Messiah. He had no idea that he would one day see the Spirit of God upon Him, confirming His identity. “This is the one who takes away the sin of the world.” John and Jesus knew each other for a long time, but they knew each other in the flesh because Jesus was quiet about it. If you recall, He even rebuked Mary once by saying that His time had not yet come. God’s purpose for our life will be revealed at the appropriate time.
Interestingly enough, Jesus had begun His ministry with John; as you can see, God’s ways are not our ways. Oftentimes, we don’t know what God has for the person next to us. People in church all have a divine purpose from God; we often don’t realize that purpose. So, we shouldn’t judge the person next to us because we don’t know what God is planning to do with the person’s life. We must treat them as God’s jewels because He is working on each and everyone us. When speaking about Christ, the people said, “nothing good can come from Nazareth.” From the connotation of the text, we can assume they had bad experiences with Nazareth in the past. Their eyes were fixed on the natural. When reading the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah, we see that God prophesied about Jesus; it begins by saying,” Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty that we should look upon Him, nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him. He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face. He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.”
I recall when we just started our television program, a person who saw our very first broadcast later told me that he never imagined our TV ministry would last. Over twenty years have come since then and he is one our supporters. We should always help each other by walking in the truth and encouraging one another to move forward. I can only imagine how surprised John the Baptist was, but because he was inspired by the Spirit, when the Lord showed him it was Jesus, he didn’t question God if He was the One? John did not look at Jesus as His cousin but as the Messiah. As a result, he submitted himself under the power of God and even said, “I’m not worthy to baptize you…” Everything must be done by the perfect will of God.
God reveals His purposes at an appointed time; with that said, keep your place occupied. God has given us a seat in His kingdom and He is working on us so that we can occupy our seat. Make sure that you occupy your seat while waiting for your time. Many of us ministers say, “Lord, I’d love to have 10,000 people church!” and God says, “Are you sure about that?” The point being that we are to keep our spot in the kingdom. Having said that, the Word of the Lord also declares, “My people are destroyed for the lack of understanding.” We humans have a tendency to rush. But even Jesus does not judge by the sight of His eyes but with righteousness. God prepared our way for us before we were even born; just as He chose John. On that note, John didn’t even know that he was the prophet yet Jesus said that he was. Can you imagine a man walking in prophetic anointing without being aware! This is a true wonder! An unknown name and unadvertised, so that God gets all the glory!
John humbled himself and was able to walk by the Spirit. However, later on, while he was imprisoned, he got discouraged. At that point, he began to question asking if Jesus was the promised One? How is it that a prophet like John could speak such futility? We don’t know exactly what happened to him, but we need to make sure we always walk in accordance to the Spirit and the Word because when trials come, our faith is tested.
Looking back to when I just got born again, I recall wanting to do a great work for the Lord. One day, out of nowhere, I received a phone call from the Jews for Jesus organization in Toronto, inviting me to come and see them for an interview. I gladly accepted their proposal, but it didn’t turn out as expected. It turns out they were looking for person with a Bachelor’s degree in theology; therefore, they suggested that I go to Bible college. At the time I was thirty-two years and would have been scheduled to finish by the time I was thirty-six. Being driven by my enthusiasm, I didn’t want to lose such precious time, I rejected their proposal. God knows how to prepare a person for what He has for him regardless of age; His way is always the best.
The church is a place where people wait and learn what God has for them. We sometimes make the mistake of pushing people ahead of their time. That’s why Jesus said to Mary not to bother Him for His time had not yet come. The most difficult time is to wait upon the Lord while our mind is telling us that we are behind schedule and need to hurry.
Moreover, people might encourage you to jump in before God’s appointed time. It has to be given by the Spirit of the Lord. Our maturity in Christ can only be displayed when we learn to appropriate God’s wisdom. As excited as we were to launch into the ministry, our spiritual father realized that we were not quite ready. He took my wife and I aside and said that in the eyes of God we are like precious jewels. Yet, there are many rough edges that God needs to smoothen. Although we were offended, we waited upon the Lord and allowed Him to continue to make us ready even though we were already in the ministry.
Many years have passed since then and I believe God made my wife and myself ready for the next move through all our experience. That is why Paul said in chapter eight of the book of Romans that all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose. During that process, sometimes you have to put your dreams and visions aside and lock them away in a solitary place. Don’t let anyone steal them, but let your walk with God be your primary focus. No matter what you see taking place, realize that God knows what He is doing and make up your mind to follow Him. At the appointed time, you’ll open your safety box and God will fulfill the vision He put on your heart. Don’t make the mistake of dwelling on your present circumstance and mourn. As ministers, thoughts can creep on us such as “I could have been seeing thousands of salvations taking place during this time. God has forsaken me and doesn’t love me anymore.” And you feel as though you are the only one suffering things.
John the Baptist didn’t know that his own cousin was the Messiah; he plainly said that he didn’t recognize Him. God only revealed this to John by His Spirit, that means a person that sits next to you can be the greatest man of God and you don’t know it. I heard a story of a powerful man of God that came to do a crusade in the United States and packed out a stadium. He then scheduled another meeting, but couldn’t come so he sent a Jewish Evangelist in his stead. The name of this Jewish Evangelist was Mordechai Well, not many people knew of him. Nobody came to his meeting except one young fellow. The young man carefully listened to the message and at the end, he gave his life to Jesus. The name of the young man was Billy Graham. If you look back in history, you’ll discover that many powerful occurrences took place in the lives of people who were willing to obey God by allowing Him to conform them to the image of Christ.
Not attending church is a huge mistake. They can’t have the voice of the shepherd because they don’t have one themselves. God uses Pastors to build your life and preserve your destiny by preventing errors while growing. Most people however run from one shepherd to another; its only a matter of time before rebellion, disappointments and hurt takes place. Every Pastor has been entrusted with a flock and the reason for it is found in the fourth chapter of Ephesians which says, “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.” Ephesians 4:11-13.
I pray that these teachings will help you to take the right position and place in the Kingdom of God.