top of page

John 1:1-34

At the beginning of John’s Gospel, we see him first define who Jesus is, and then the role of John the Baptist (the author and John the Baptist are two different people). John addresses Christ’s deity, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God (John 1:1-2)... And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14)... For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ (John 1:17).” And after establishing who Jesus is, John establishes the role God wanted John the Baptist to fulfill. This is defined through the next few verses and the interactions that take place, along with John the Baptist outright citing scripture.

1) Who are you?

It begins with John 1:19: “Now this is the testimony of John (speaking of John the Baptist), when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, ‘Who are you?’” Jews and Levites from Jerusalem traveled all the way to “Bethabara beyond the Jordan” (John 1:28). This distance, when measured on Google maps, is 19.19 miles--and this is if they walked from Jerusalem’s old city Damascus Gate straight to John’s location, without straying in the slightest. These people walked almost 20 miles to simply ask John, “Who are you?” It’s clear that John was causing quite a stir throughout the region, especially if the people being sent were from the Pharisees (John 1:24). But more importantly, these passages highlight a critical point: that people were eagerly looking for a Savior.

This notion is further supported by John’s answer to the people’s question of “Who are you,” along with the response from those who were sent. John replies to the question asked of him by saying, “I am not the Christ.” (John 1:20). John doesn’t answer the question based on the people’s surface-level inquiry, but rather, answers the deeper question residing in their hearts; that he is not the Savior. The people clearly traveled quite a ways, and it wasn’t to just get to know John the Baptist. To continue, John is further berated by questions: “And they asked him, ‘What then? Are you Elijah?’ He said, ‘I am not.’ ‘Are you the Prophet?’ And he answered, ‘No.’ Then they said to him, ‘Who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?’” (John 21-22). John is making these people squirm with questions because one, they require an answer to return to the Pharisees (the highest religious order of the time); and two, because they themselves seek an answer as well.

It is in this setting that John the Baptist finally gives the answer as to who he is: “I am ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Make straight the way of the Lord.’’ as the prophet Isaiah said.” (John 1:23). In response, the people ask John why he is baptizing if he isn’t the Christ, Elijah, or the Prophet. John then explains, “I bapti