And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who are you?…
I. A GREAT QUESTION.
1. there was something in the man that called it forth. Speaking generally, every man is an enigma. Many men, however, go through life without being challenged. Men of the regulation type, whose individuality never strikes you — such men have an easy time of it and give others no trouble. There are others whose strong and striking individuality is an intolerable nuisance to a slumbering, self-complacent society — heroes, reformers, martyrs. Such was John. No one could mistake him for any one else. Hence he was put on his defence and cross-examined.
2. There was something in the times that called forth this question. The world was throbbing with expectation. Heathen religion and philosophy ended in a query. The lost deity of Athens was a note of interrogation. The Jews had grown weary of the stereotyped platitudes of the Rabbis. Men could not help contrasting these days with those of the prophet. And now John came with words of living fire, and thousands exclaimed, "this is the Prophet." The phylactured class looked profound and shook their heads. Others responded, "No amount of head shaking will account for this miracle of a man: While you shake your head he is shaking multitudes." It was natural that the spirit of inquiry awakened by him should be first exercised upon him.
II. A GREAT ANSWER. It is not difficult to give our estimate of other men, but very difficult for a man of delicate feeling to estimate himself, and most difficult to a man of John's popularity. If there be any littleness in him it will show itself now. John had summed up other people; what about his estimate of himself! An exaggerated estimate had been formed of him. Will he have genius and modesty enough to correct it? Yes.
1. He answers negatively, and brushes away all exaggerations.
2. He answers in the affirmative
(1) concerning himself. Isaiah had only noticed the voice and message. John would not do otherwise
(2) concerning Him for whom he had been mistaken. Every true preacher finds his way from every question to Christ.
(a) He is near;
(b) He stands. Not one who hurries through like a passing stranger;
(c) He is unrecognized;
(d) He is the Lamb of God.
Parallel VersesKJV: And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou?