They said, "Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?" John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, "I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, 'Make straight the way for the Lord.'" (John 1:22-23)Unless we are familiar with John’s Bible (what we call the Old Testament), we will miss the deeper meaning behind these words. Here is the passage John cites in context:
A voice of one calling: "In the wilderness prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all people will see it together. For the mouth of the LORD has spoken." (Isa 40:3-5)The good news that the voice proclaims is this: “The glory of Yahweh will be revealed, and all people will see it together.”
Now consider what the author said immediately before narrating the encounter between John the Baptist and the messengers:
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. ... No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known. (John 1:14-18)This is a key theme in the gospel of John: Jesus reveals the glory of God. In the coming chapters, we will see how the author develops this theme in surprising ways.
[I am currently teaching an adult Sunday School class at the Offerings campus of the First UMC church in Lexington. We meet at 11:20 in the building adjacent to the church. If you are in the area, we would love to have you join us! This post is part of a series of notes I am writing as I teach the class. Click here to read them all.]