And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who are you?…
I. AS IT RESPECTED HIMSELF.
1. He confessed I am not the Christ. This is a hard saying for human nature. Though death is working in every part, it will be its own saviour if it can. Man may be willing to take the reform of John wherewith to gild his own pretensions, but he is offended with the idea that he needs salvation at the hands of another. But there is no hope for him until he confesses it.
2. He confessed that he was not Elias nor any of the prophets. He came, indeed, in the spirit and power of Elias (Matthew 11:14), and was "more than a prophet": but not in their sense. Ah! the deceitfulness of the human heart! To have such popular preachers, to be united to such a mighty Church — this pleases the natural man. But John's example teaches us to renounce all prophets, save only as they set Christ forth.
3. He confessed he was not worthy to perform the most menial cruces for Christ. The greatest of men sink into nothing before the glory of Christ. And if such was John's unworthiness, considering who he was, what is ours, considering who we are?
II. AS IT RESPECTS THE CHRIST.
1. He bore witness to Christ's preexistence, and therefore to His divinity.
2. To His coming after him, and therefore to His humanity.
3. To His real presence, and any one searching for Him can find Him now in His Word and sacraments; and He is present now as then, as the Messiah, with all His Messianic blessings.
4. To his atonement (ver. 29).
III. AS IT RESPECTS OUR RECEPTION OF CHRIST.
1. We are to give heed to the testimony of Christ's heralds.
(1) Those who speak to us in the Scriptures;
(2) Those who minister in sacred things;
2. We must set ourselves to work in Christ's way;
(1) By repentance (ver. 23);
(2) By faith (ver. 29).
(J. A. Seiss, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou?