Reading: John 1: 1-8 and 19-21
Verse Eight: “He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light”.
Today’s passage is about what is and what is not. John begins by establishing just who Jesus is. John draws on Genesis imagery to remind us that Jesus was there in the beginning and that He was with God. He reminds us that all things were created through Jesus. And, lastly, John reminds us that Jesus is the light that shines into the darkness. This is an ongoing reality that many in the world struggle with today.
John’s Gospel then turns to John the Baptist and who he is. John the Baptist is first a man sent by God. He came as a witness to the coming of Jesus in the flesh. Our passage defines John’s role this way: “He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light”. John the Baptist is not the light; he is the witness to call people to the Light or to Jesus.
Sometimes is is easier to describe or understand who we are not. This is usually a much longer list than the one that attempts to define who we are. As the priests and Levites that have been sent by the Pharisees begin to question who John the Baptist is, he begins with the most important who He is not: he is not the Christ (or the Messiah). They press on. No, he is not Elijah. No, he is not the Prophet. Despite telling them who he is, John the Baptist is still pressed for more detail. He is the witness to the light that is coming into the world.
Who John the Baptist is should sound familiar to us because this is the role that we are called to play. The Light himself spelled this out for us in the Great Commission: “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). We too are called to testify to the light that has come into the world and that continues to shine into the darkness. We are not John the Baptist and we are not Elijah ad we are not some other great prophet. We are simply followers of Christ called to share the good news of what Jesus has done in our lives so that the Light can shine into other people’s darkness, helping them to begin to walk in the Light.