John the Baptist attracted no minor attention in his public ministry. Crowds followed his call for a change of heart and a lot of people got baptized in the Jordan River. Expectations were rising and people debated whether or not John was the long awaited Messiah. When this kind of rumor came to John’s ears he clearly denied it. The Apostle John wrote about John the Baptist (John 1:20):
“He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, ‘I am not the Messiah.’”
Then who was John the Baptist? In response John quoted Isaiah and said (Isaiah 40:3):
I am “a voice of one calling: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.’”
John the Baptist not only set the records straight about who he was and who he was not, but he also began to talk about his cousin Jesus. As he saw Jesus walking by one day he turned around and told two of his disciples that Jesus is the Messiah. (John 1:36-37):
“When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God!’
When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus.”
As it turned out, one of the first disciples to follow Jesus were originally followers of John the Baptist.
In the years of Jesus’s public ministry that followed, there was much controversy about His person. One afternoon He began to speak about who He was (John 8:12):
“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’”
This did not sit well with the religious leadership. They flat-out told Him that His testimony was invalid since He appeared as His own witness, to which the Lord replied (John 8:14):
“Jesus answered, ‘Even if I testify on my behalf, my testimony is valid, for I know where I came from and where I am going. But you have no idea where I come from and where I am going.’”
Despite the ongoing public dispute which grew more and more intense as time went by, many decided to believe what the Lord said about Himself. Jesus told them they were indeed His disciples if they held on to His teaching, no matter what others said about Him.
There comes a time when we have to decide for ourselves whom to believe. Jesus promises us that we will know the truth when we believe in Him; and the truth will set us free.