Click here for the reading: John 1:19-28.
Jesus came in a time of high expectations, since the Jews are actively wondering when the Christ will appear. They even wonder if John, whose baptism is clearly a sign of the coming Christ, is the one they have been waiting for. Do we live in a similar spirit of expectation? What things are we waiting for in these days? What examples do we see of Christians misunderstanding what is happening? On the other hand, why do we sometimes lack this spirit of expectation? Why is waiting the vast majority of our experience as Christians, as seen in Psalm 62?
John’s confession of the truth is both positive and negative. While he denies that he is the Christ, he affirms at the same time that he is preparing the way of the Lord, as Isaiah said. What does it mean to confess rightly? What is the relationship between confession of the truth and our life? In what ways are we tempted to separate the two of them, and what are the consequences? Consider the example of Peter in Matthew 16, both in his confession and how he fails to fully understand who Jesus is.
Isaiah prophesied the coming of John, because he is the voice crying in the wilderness by his own confession. His message is equally clear: make the way of the Lord straight, because He is near! Why is confession of the truth not only a private matter? Why should confession of the truth result in a clear proclamation? How do we help or hinder this proclamation by how we live out that confession? How does the Lord speak of this relationship in passages like Amos 5?
This group sent to question John are not satisfied with his answers. Some of them were Pharisees, deeply interested in the reason why John was baptizing indiscriminately. Who are the Pharisees, and what distinguishes them from other groups like the Sadducees? Why would the Pharisees be interested in questions of authority in light of their history? How does this attitude fight against rightly confessing the truth, and in what ways do we run the risk of falling into it ourselves? Compare the seven woes of Jesus toward the Pharisees in Matthew 23 with the confession of John here.
Advent is a season of expectation, and it points as John did to the coming Christ. As this season comes to an end, John reminds us of the importance of looking to Christ. Jesus once appeared suddenly in His temple, and He will come again just as suddenly at the end of all things. Why is a right confession so important in these last days? In what ways do we struggle with indifference in our time, even among well meaning Christians? How can we be prepared for the coming of Christ? How does the situation of Laodicea in Revelation 3:14-22 relate to our own time?