John - Witness & Martyr

Today's Bible reading: Matthew 14:1-12

It is especially John's Gospel which highlights the essential ministry of John the Baptist: to point forward to Christ.  The first chapter of this Gospel shows disciples of John leaving him to join Jesus … and John especially witnessing to Jesus as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”  The Baptizer is only the best man, not the bridegroom.  His great joy is humbly to serve Christ … even to the point where his own ministry is replaced, as he says of Jesus: “He must increase, but I must decrease.”

This insistence that John is merely a witness to Christ - and the rejection of any claim that he himself was the light - makes good sense when we remember that there were disciples of John the Baptist who did make greater claims for their master.  Paul was to meet some of them in Ephesus, and we know that they continue to exist into the second century.

As we know - ultimately – John’s boldness in preaching repentance cost him his life.  John's condemnation of Herod Antipas for his marriage to his brother’s wife - Herodias - led to his execution.  Thus, he was a witness - a martyr - to Christ and the coming Kingdom even in his death.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, when I fear the might of those who oppose your Kingdom, comfort me with the knowledge that You live and rule eternally.  Amen.