John was a forerunner of Jesus Christ who prepared the hearts of people for the coming of the Messiah (Jesus Christ).
After the Messiah came, there was not much communication between John and Jesus, this made him feel isolated and used. He became unsure of his calling and purpose in life. Probably, he expected that as a forerunner of Christ, they should have worked together and formed a partnership to advance the Kingdom of God on earth. But Jesus was busy with His father’s business alongside His disciples moving from one location to another, with signs, wonders, and miracles characterizing His ministry.
John on the other hand was confused, attention was not drawn to him anymore like it used to be before the revealing of Jesus as the Messiah. He sent his disciples to pay a courtesy call to Jesus; the focal point of the visit was to ask him “Are you the One to come or should we expect another Messiah”. The question seemed strange and confusing because John had previously declared to all that Jesus was the Messiah; he said, “Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world”. Immediately John saw Jesus for the first time, he knew Jesus was the one. But how come he sent his disciple to Jesus to confirm that he had not made a mistake declaring Jesus as the Messiah?
A time will come in our lives as individuals when certain things we believe will be tested and questioned. Even if you had a vision, dream, or revelation, a certain end would come that would shake all that you ever did and believed. This also happened to Elijah, and he desired to die. In fact, he ran away from Jezebel and declared “I am not better than my fathers”, but indeed he was far better than his fathers. In times like this, we must be careful in making hasty decisions as it can end up destroying many things. Elijah sought and found God, and he was strengthened. John also sought for Jesus through his disciples.
Jesus’s response to John’s disciples was through the performance of diverse miracles, which they were to take back to John as testimonies of the supernatural hand of God working in Jesus. Jesus also told them that “blessed is he whatsoever shall not be offended in me” (Matthew chapter 14). The popularity of Jesus should not offend John. As a believer, when people around you are doing better things than you are doing, don’t be offended, and don’t plot their downfall. Your purpose is different from their purpose. Our activities as believers should be complementary and not competitive. We should rejoice at the exploits of others and not be remorseful.
When the disciples of John left, Jesus began to speak about John to His disciples. He described John as one who is more than a mere prophet; he is the greatest prophet to have lived, and his greatness was tied to the preparation he made for the coming of Jesus (Messiah).
However, the greatest prophet (John) was in the greatest confusion of his life. He doubted his calling, purpose, and mission. He needed an affirmation to be sure that he had not wasted his life on the wrong course. For this, Jesus described John as “a burning and a shining light”.
John indeed was a burning light. His residence was in the wilderness, however many people sought him. Remember that wherever the fire is burning, people are attracted to see what is going on there. His “burning light” consumed the hypocrisy and sinfulness in the hearts of men. His lifestyle as “a burning light” pricked the hearts of Herodias and others like her and made them restless in their sins. Like fire ignited in the forest scares away strange animals, John’s burning light pushed back religious fanatics and deceivers who were ready to prey on innocent souls. He burnt their strange ideas and doctrines into chaff.
He was a shining light (the coming of John brought joy and the people rejoiced in his shining light). John came in an era of gross darkness characterized by long silence of real teachings about God. His coming beamed a light that was irresistible to his generation. For once, there was somebody to look up to who knew the mind of God. Apart from the religious scribes and Pharisees whose interest was their pockets and position, people traveled several miles to the wilderness to see this “shining light”. His light shone through the hearts of many and became the conscience of the nation. His light was a preparation for the LIGHT (Jesus) to come.
In all these, John never knew the gravity of his impact on his generation, but Jesus did. Today, as believers, we are the light of the world. We must shine anywhere we find ourselves. Our lives should prick the hearts of sinners and evildoers.
What you are doing for the kingdom of God in your corner may be little or maybe a support role to another person who is more acknowledged and appreciated than you are. But never mind, Jesus knows what you are doing, and He appreciates it. He will bless you in time and eternity.
Be a burning and a shining light. May the grace of God be with you, Amen.
by Ndubuisi Paul Okafor
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