By Nathan Washburn
Pastor, First Baptist Church, Greenbrier
John had one job — to go ahead of Jesus and prepare the way for Him to preach and teach, and minister. Isaiah had prophesied that one would do just that (Isaiah 40:3), and John identified himself as that one (John 1:23).
But John’s job was to work himself right out of a job — sort of like the opening act of a concert. The plan was to gather up followers (through baptizing and preaching) and then get those who were following him to shift their tracks to following Jesus. When they started to do exactly that, some of his followers got a little concerned (John 3:26), but he quickly reassured them that this was the plan all along (vv. 28-30). In this he showed tremendous focus.
Focus means seeing things clearly. In a picture, when an object is out of focus, it is blurry and indiscernible as one color bleeds over into another in a muddled mess. When an object is in focus, however, the lines are sharp, the definition crisp, and picture much clearer. John had this kind of focus. He knew Jesus (John 1:14-15), and he knew his job (1:20-23). He saw both very clearly.
Focus means concentrating on what is most important. One thing rose above everything else for John — pointing people to Jesus. He saw himself as a means to other people meeting Jesus and trusting in Him. This one mission stood above everything else in his life, to the extent that he wasn’t concerned about food or clothing (Mark 1:6) or whether people thought highly of him (John 1:19-20).
Focus means being able to say “no.” Distractions are toxic to any mission. Those who hope to apply themselves to their mission must put away distractions (which include both bad things and good things) and give all their effort and energy to it. John did that.
With his focus, John fulfilled his mission by making little of himself, making much of Jesus, pointing others to Jesus, and then fading away.
He minimized himself by deflecting attention away about who he was (John 1:20). He wasn’t there to make a name for himself. He didn’t even dress to impress, walking about in a camelhair garment and crude leather belt (Mark 1:6). He was there to herald the name of another — Jesus of Nazareth.
He made much of Jesus by talking of Him in such lofty terms that he couldn’t even touch the sandals to take them off His feet (the dirtiest piece of attire from the dirtiest part of the body). Jesus was the Light (John 1:7), eternally pre-eminent (v. 15), the Christ (v. 20), the Lamb of God (v. 29), and John rightfully exalted Him.
He then pointed others to Jesus by inviting them to behold Him “who takes away the sin of the world” (v. 29). When they began going after Him, John basked in the greater glory of getting no glory when he said that his joy was made complete (John 3:29).
Finally (and fittingly), he faded into the background. Jesus had come. People were following Him, listening to Him, and believing in Him. John’s job was complete (v. 30).
In being faithful to his job of preparing the way of the Lord, what John found was that Jesus was actually the One preparing the way for him. Jesus was and is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and even John would come to the Father through Him (John 14:6).
We, like John, have one job — to point people to Jesus. Let’s focus on that.