The testimony of John

Published January 2, 2021, 9:48 AM

by Manila Bulletin


The Prologue of John’s Gospel says, “A man named John was sent from God. He came for testimony, to testify to the light” (1:6-7). John, the son of Zechariah, is so associated with his baptizing ministry in the Jordan River that he is known as the Baptist. But in the Fourth Gospel, the fact that John baptizes is subordinated to his role as a “witness” (martys in Greek; the English “martyr” literally means one who gives witness). Here John begins that function. The aristocratic priests in Jerusalem send a delegation to ask him, “Who are you?” John denies that he is a messianic fgure. Neither is he Elijah, the one coming before the day of the Lord (Mal 3:1), nor the expected “prophet like [Moses]” (Dt 18:18). He calls himself a witness to the one who is coming after him—shortly identifed as Jesus (Jn 1:29). The implication is that anyone who follows John should heed his witness and accept Jesus as one greater than John. He pointed Jesus as the Lamb of redemption and would bear him supreme witness by the shedding of his blood. People today, as pointed out by St. Paul VI, would rather listen to “witnesses” rather than “teachers.” Do we give witness to our Christian faith by our good example?

Gospel • JOHN 1:19-28 19

This is the testimony of John. When the Jews from Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to him to ask him, “Who are you?” he admitted and did not deny it, but admitted, “I am not the Christ.” So they asked him, “What are you then? Are you Elijah?” And he said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” He answered, “No.” So they said to him, “Who are you, so we can give an answer to those who sent us? What do you have to say for yourself?” He said: “I am the voice of one crying out in the desert, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as Isaiah the prophet said.” Some Pharisees were also sent. They asked him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ or Elijah or the Prophet?” John answered them, “I baptize with water; but there is one among you whom you do not recognize, the one who is coming after me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie.” This happened in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing.

SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord 2021,” ST. PAULS, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 632-895-9701; Fax 632-895-7328; E-mail: [email protected]; Website: