What is the purpose of a traffic sign? It is not designed to be the point, but to point to the point. Their purpose is literally written on them. Now sometimes we take pictures next to a sign, but none of us go to the Grand Canyon to only take a picture with the sign and then turn around and go home.
The best pointer ever born was John the Baptizer (Matthew 11:11). John was a messenger who was sent to prepare the way before the Lord (Malachi 3:10, Matthew 3:10). John was a pointer, sent by God to send sinners to God. John was the server, not the Savior. He is the messenger, not the message. In Acts 13:23-25 Paul summarizes John’s life and work in three ways: “As he was finishing the course,” “He said I am not he,” “Behold, there comes One after me, the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to loose.” These three ways reflect the role of every preacher and Christian.
Finishing the Course
John came in simple clothing with a stern message: “Repent for the Kingdom is at hand.” As the forerunner to the Messiah, he stayed faithful to his role. Despite not drawing the largest crowds or being the most popular speaker, John was a prophet, a proclaimer of God’s Word. Even though he was placed in prison and eventually lost his head, he was faithful to his calling to the end. While some could have considered this man a failure, Jesus called him the greatest man ever born. In Paul’s words he had fought the good fight, finished the race, and kept the faith (2 Timothy 4:7). Our ministry is not judged by crowds, popularity, or even by effect: it is ultimately judged by faithfulness.
His Identity “I Am Not He”
John’s identity came in making Jesus known. When the Pharisees came to see him, John referenced Isaiah the prophet in saying “I am the voice” John 1:23. John served as God’s mouthpiece and witness. He called people to follow God rather than calling people to follow him. Jesus is the bread of life; we are the servers. The person and work of Christ must be our foundation, our hope, our joy, our longing, and our comfort.
The Worth of Christ “Tying Sandals”
Jesus is infinitely worth all worship. Even good men fall in their sin before God, Isaiah 6, Revelation 1:17. Jesus, the powerful and roaring lion, came as a meek lamb to the slaughter. The holiness of God is dead set against us and our sin (Psalm 5:5-6). Yet Jesus surrendered himself for rebel sinners and laid down his life for ours. The good shepherd leads us, cares for us, walks with us through evil places, and brings us to the house of the Lord forever, Psalm 23. The worth of Christ is what John pointed out to sinners, and like him, we must point them to his excellency and sufficiency of him who loved us and gave himself for us.
As Christians we must never let the message be about us. Like John we must point people to Christ. He is the way, the truth and the life.