John 1:8

He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light.

It’s curious why John (the Evangelist) goes to such lengths to distinguish between John (the Witness) and Jesus. Not just here but, as we’ll see, even more so later in this first chapter.

It might be that there was a group of ardent John supporters who continued to claim messianic status for him. Or that people tended to confuse the ministry of John and that of Jesus. Or…

Ultimately, of course, we just don’t know. But we do know that the Fourth Evangelist wants to clarify John’s role. He is not the light. He is a witness to the light. And while some might think that is a lessening of importance, I don’t. It is assigning John an incredibly important role – to testify to the light, to point people to a way out of their despair, to lead people out of darkness into the light of day.

We usually call John “the Baptist” because in the other three gospels people flock from Jerusalem in order to be baptized by John in the wilderness. Further, in these gospels, John’s role is also to baptize Jesus. But in the Fourth Gospel none of that happens. Here, John is not known for baptizing but for witnessing, and it is a vital role in this story…and in our own.

Prayer: Dear God, we give you thanks for John the Witness and all since who have testified to the light of grace that shines into the world through Jesus, and we pray that we might have such courage. In Jesus’ name, Amen.