Preparing the way

Why didn’t they just brush him off as another fanatic? Because they saw holiness in his life; they saw a living connection with God.

Derek Morris is the editor of Ministry Magazine

Do you have a mentor who inspires and instructs you in the work of ministry? Let me recommend a servant leader who has been a great mentor to me—John the Baptist. He never called himself a prophet. He didn’t even take the title of teacher. His way was rough, his companions few, but his mission was clear. He was called to prepare the way of the Lord.

Proclaiming truth with holy boldness

John the Baptist proclaimed truth with holy boldness. That truth found its fullest expression not in a collection of teachings but rather in a Person. When Jesus came to the Jordan River to be baptized, John exclaimed, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).* That bold declaration was the theme of John’s ministry. He recognized Jesus because of his personal encounter with God: “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him. I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God” (John 1:32–34).

Like John, the Lord also calls us, in our particular ministry context, to proclaim truth with holy boldness as we prepare the way for His coming. That proclamation is only possible as a result of a personal, supernatural encounter with God. Have you ever met a follower of Jesus who walked in the presence of God? Perhaps when that person prayed with you or, by the way she showed the love of God to others, you recognized a direct connection with heaven. That’s how people felt when they were around John the Baptist. They sensed God’s presence and that John had a living connection with God.

John the Baptist boldly proclaimed a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. His message was a call to revival and reformation. Why did people listen to his exhortations? Why didn’t they just brush him off as another fanatic? Because they saw holiness in his life; they saw a living connection with God. There was supernatural confirmation that his testimony was true.

Serving with a humble spirit

John the Baptist gave that bold testimony with a spirit of humility. According to Josephus, John had great influence over the masses. He could easily have promoted his personal agenda for his own benefit. Instead, John maintained a humble spirit. On one occasion, some of John’s disciples came to him and said, “ ‘Rabbi, He who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified—behold, He is baptizing, and all are coming to Him!’ John answered and said, ‘A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, “I am not the Christ,” but, “I have been sent before Him.” He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease’ ” (John 3:26–30). What an example for us in these closing days of earth’s history! What a bold and compelling vision: Jesus must become greater, and we must become less.

As we prepare the way for the second coming of Jesus, why should people believe our testimony? After all, so many voices are calling. Could this be because they see God at work in us and through us? We must proclaim the truth about Jesus with holy boldness as a result of our living connection with God, and do so with a spirit of humility. It’s not about us. t’s all about Jesus.

I’m thankful that John the Baptist has been a great mentor to me, and I pray that his testimony will also bless your life. Some day soon, I plan to embrace John the Baptist when the saints of all the ages gather before the throne of God. I already know how he’ll respond. He’ll smile, direct my attention toward the throne, and boldly proclaim, “Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever” (Rev. 5:13).

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Derek Morris is the editor of Ministry Magazine

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