The courtroom is set. You are the judge, seated in a high-backed, oaken, leather chair. Your long black robe is accented by the fluffy white ruffles on your chest. It is your job to listen to the evidence and determine the verdict. As you lean forward on your elevated, mahogany desk, in the courtroom in front of you stands a hovelled-over, old, Jewish man. His name is John. When he was much younger, he followed Jesus around and spent about three years living with Him. Now, he has come to the courtroom of your mind to argue to you the truth that he already knows.
John begins his case with his opening remarks. "Jesus truly is God. We can trust Him and rely on Him alone for our salvation." When we arrive at verse 15, the apostle John calls his first witness to the stand for direct examination: John the baptizer.
John the baptizer gets his title from two details, 1) his birth name was John and 2) he liked to baptize people. Baptism wasn’t a common Jewish practice, so when he had started doing this, it caused a little bit of a stir for the religious crowd of the day. Furthermore, anyone who knew the prophecy of Ezekiel 36-37 knew that before the Messiah would come, there would be "a sprinkling of water," a cleansing. Now, John was cleansing with water, baptizing, those who came and repented of their sins. This really confused the Jewish leaders as you can see their questioning in verses 19-21 and 25. But this was not just a peculiar practice that he was committing, this was a vital part of the testimony he was giving. In essence he was saying, “the Messiah is coming soon.”
As John the Apostle continues his direct examination of his first witness, we see not just the reality bound up in his title, but we also see his spoken testimony. When we get to verse 23, John the baptizer quotes Isaiah the prophet to make his point abundantly clear, “I am nothing important. I am just a voice. I am come to announce the coming of the one who is important. I am here to make ready the way for the Lord.” Again in verse 27, he expresses, “He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me.”
This first witness on the stand has made it abundantly clear through his actions and his words that One would come soon that would be incredibly important. He would be highly praiseworthy. But the testimony doesn’t stop there. The witness continues on.
Verse 29, “John sees Jesus coming and says, Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world.” John the baptizer goes on in his testimony to offer more specific details. Now his witness is explicit. "Jesus takes away sin."
Now, lean back in that big judge chair. Having heard the opening remarks from John the apostle, and the testimony of the first witness, John the baptizer, what do you think? Is Jesus important? Is Jesus a big deal? Is Jesus God?
As we continue through the Gospel according to John, we will see more witnesses and even will hear from Jesus himself. I'll leave it to you to decide. You can be the judge.
Food for thought: What are some things that John the Baptist says about Jesus being God or being from God?