From Heaven With Love


Chapter 14—We Have Found the Messiah

This chapter is based on John 1:19-51.

John the Baptist was now preaching at Bethabara, beyond Jordan, where people daily thronged the banks of the Jordan. The preaching of John had taken a deep hold on the nation. He had not recognized the authority of the Sanhedrin by seeking their sanction, yet interest in his work seemed to continually increase. HLv 81.1

The Sanhedrin was made up of priests, rulers, and teachers. In the days of Jewish independence the Sanhedrin was the supreme court of the nation. Though now subordinated by the Roman governors, it still exercised a strong influence in civil as well as religious matters. The Sanhedrin could not well defer an investigation of John's work. Some recalled the revelation made to Zacharias in the temple that had pointed to his child as the Messiah's herald. These things were now called to mind by the excitement concerning the ministry of John. HLv 81.2

It was long since Israel had had a prophet. The demand for confession of sin seemed new and startling. Many leaders would not go to hear John lest they be led to disclose the secrets of their lives. Yet his preaching was a direct announcement of the Messiah. HLv 81.3

It was well known that the seventy weeks of Daniel's prophecy, covering Messiah's advent, were nearly ended; and all were eager to share in the national glory then expected. Such was the popular enthusiasm that the Sanhedrin would soon be forced either to sanction or to reject John's work. Already it was becoming a serious question how to maintain their power over the people. In hope of arriving at some conclusion, they dispatched to the Jordan a deputation of priests and Levites to confer with the new teacher. HLv 81.4

A multitude were listening to his words when the delegates approached. With an air of authority designed to impress the people and command the deference of the prophet, the haughty rabbis came. With respect, almost fear, the crowd opened to let them pass. The great men, in their rich robes, in the pride of rank and power, stood before the prophet of the wilderness. HLv 82.1

“Who art thou?” they demanded. HLv 82.2

Knowing what was in their thoughts, John answered, “I am not the Christ.” HLv 82.3

“What then? Art thou Elias?” HLv 82.4

“I am not.” HLv 82.5

“Art thou that prophet?” HLv 82.6

“No.” HLv 82.7

“Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself?” HLv 82.8

“I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias.” HLv 82.9

Anciently, when a king journeyed through his dominion, men were sent ahead to level the steep places and fill up the hollows, that the king might travel in safety. This custom is employed by the prophet Isaiah to illustrate the work of the gospel. “Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low.” Isaiah 40:4. When the Spirit of God touches the soul, it abases human pride. Worldly pleasure, position, and power are seen to be worthless. Then humility and self-sacrificing love are exalted as alone of worth. This is the work of the gospel, of which John's message was a part. HLv 82.10

The rabbis continued their questioning: “Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet?” The words “that prophet” had reference to Moses. When the Baptist began his ministry, many thought he might be Moses risen from the dead. HLv 82.11

It was believed also that before the Messiah's advent, Elijah would personally appear. This expectation John denied, but Jesus afterward said, referring to John, “And if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come.” Matthew 11:14, RSV. John came in the spirit and power of Elijah, to do such a work as Elijah did. But the Jews did not receive his message. To them he was not Elijah. HLv 83.1