The biggest theme of the Gospel according to John is an identity question. It is to find out who Jesus Christ is. But for now, this passage asks: "Who is John the Baptist?" God raised John the baptized up as prophecized to prepare Israel for Jesus Christ. John the baptized, son of an old priest called Zacharia and mother of Elizabeth, was only a couple month older than Jesus. His public ministry started earlier than Jesus. He was imprisoned and executed by Herod during Jesus ministry on earth. The Gospel of John tells us who Jesus Christ is, John told us who he is. Do you know who you are? And do you know Jesus Christ? By reading the Gospel of John, God can help you to find out more about yourself and to know Jesus Christ personally.
Main point summary
John was not Christ but prepared the way for Him, just as God had promised through the prophet Isaiah.
Now this is the testimony of John,
when the Jews sent priests and Levites
to ask him, “ Who are you? ”
and did not deny,
but confessed, “I am not the Christ .”
And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah ?”
He said, “I am not.”
“Are you the Prophet ?”
And he answered, “No.”
Then they said to him, “ Who are you ,
that we may give an answer to those who sent us?
What do you say about yourself?”
He said: “I am ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Make straight the way of the Lord ,” ’
as the prophet Isaiah said.”
Now those who were sent were from the Pharisees.
And they asked him, saying, “Why then do you baptize
if you are not the Christ ,
nor Elijah ,
nor the Prophet ?”
John answered them, saying, “I baptize with water,
but there stands One among you whom you do not know.
It is He who, coming after me, is preferred before me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose.”
These things were done in Bethabara beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing.
Where is Bethabara beyond the Jordan? 10 km north of the dead sea How far is Jerusalem from that place? 60 km east of Jerusalem, 12-hour walk Why did the Jews undertake a days journey to find out who John was? The Jews as leaders saw it their responsibility to examine any man with growing influence. They asked legal questions and were not personally interested in John. That's the reason for why John answered directly with Scripture. How did the Pharisees assume that Christ, Elijah or the Prophet would baptize? ? Why did John deny to be Elijah, if the Lord said he was Elijah (Mat 11:14, Mat 17:12)? John did not draw attention to himself with his ministry but prepared the way for the Lord by preaching to turn from evil. Instead of repenting from their self-pleasing ways to honor God by upholding the law for the good of Israel, the Jewish leaders used people for personal gain and examined John likely for evil. John was not only prophesied by Malachi (Mal 4:5) but also by Isaiah (Isa 40:3) and since the Jewish leaders refused to repent, he answered them with Isa 40:3. Why did people wonder if John was Christ if they expected a deliverer from the Romans? John lived under difficult circumstances in the wilderness. His living standard was very low. How could Isreal think of him as the deliverer? I don't see how except that John's preaching may have been so powerful that all other factors became neglectable. v.24 Why is it mentioned that those send were from the Pharisees? Because the Pharisees likely instructed the messengers to ask why John is baptizing without being Christ, Elijah or the Prophet. They kept digging to perhaps disqualifying him from preaching.