21 And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.”
JOHN 1:21 ESV
21 καὶ ἠρώτησαν αὐτόν· Τί οὖν; σὺ Ἠλίας εἶ; καὶ λέγει· Οὐκ εἰμί. Ὁ προφήτης εἶ σύ; καὶ ἀπεκρίθη· Οὔ.
JOHN 1:21 SBLGNT
Finally, we see the Jews’ motives when they sought to find out who The Baptist was. They wanted to know if this was the unfolding of Old Testament prophecies. Why is this important? It sets the stage and the objective motives of the Jewish leaders as time progressed in Jesus’s ministry.
They were already misguided in their questions as they sought something that they had assumed as a legitimate prophecy. They were seeking for the Baptist to openly admit that he was the reincarnate Elijah, in Malachi 4:5
5 “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes.”
or ‘the prophet’, which some have eludes to the prophet Elijah, which had assumed Moses had referred to in Deuteronomy 18:15
15 The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen—
And Deu 18:18
18 “I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.”
Unfortunately, they had phrased the question incorrectly by assuming that The Baptist was Elijah, and he denies he was. They have been misguided because the prophecies never prophecized that Elijah would have risen again. They had assumed he was Elijah, but that would contradict the overall prophecy that the Messiah would come, and it is He who would save the world. Though there is no direct prophecy of a resurrection of a Messiah, many scholars attribute the Psalms of David as a parallel to the Messiah resurrection, though the context is not; subjective views allow for such parallelism.
Psalm 16:10 – 10 “For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption.”
Psalm 49:15 – 15 “But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol, for he will receive me. Selah”
If John the Baptist denies he is the prophet, then why the disparity in his identity, since the prophecies claimed that Elijah would return before the Messiah. The answer lies in Luke 1:17 when the angel appeared to Zachariah and revealed that the child borne by his wife Elizabeth was not Elijah but of the spirit and power of Elijah.
Luke 1:17 17 – “and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.”
It is the power and spirit of Elijah that is bestowed upon The Baptist and his predestined work that will pave the way of the Messiah. All his answers were true, and if the Jews had set aside their assumptions and conditions outlined in what the truth represents, they would realize what John the Baptist was saying.
This is the condition inherent in all man. We tend to look for the truth to fit a precondition mould. Anything that does not fit it is thrown out and cast away as unwanted. Like when we want something specific, we will seek any means necessary to meet our standards. We only see the world through our eyes and have no accountability to anything but ourselves.
Here is the problem with acting within such a framework. If these are standards that we abide by, we have no right to complain. We assume that everything we do is correct, then whatever the secular world dictates should have no consequence on you. There should not be any double standard. We blame God as a convenience without reasoning, just as a way to satisfy our disposition, whereas the problem lies from the root, which is you initially assuming that the world would mould itself to your needs. Unfortunately, it does not and will never mould itself to what you desire. We are subconsciously driven to fit ourselves into the world’s mould continually.
Ironically a mould that we ourselves build, which ultimately, we fall victim to. What is the alternative? The alternative is the reality of who Jesus is and what he has done for us. What God ask in return is faith and to anchor our life in His absolutes. Why is it so difficult? Our faith calls us to turn away from this world, which, as I have explained, ironically, is subjugating us into its mould. We are just stubborn to realize it. We rejoice in small gains while the world tightens its grip on your faith. Even when we fail, we blame God, then walk further away from God. Sometimes the evil one causes you to fail to force you to sin more, knowing full well your character is only for yourself and nothing more.
It takes hard, strong and committed perseverance to seek God. God has always been there, but we have been looking in the wrong place. The only reason we do not see him, is because we have placed barriers to block our view. Barriers like that new car, with all the accessories you wanted so much, or that new business deal that will make you millions at the expense of a few unfortunate others you will never face. Once those barriers are taken down, it is free sailing under the wings of our Lord.
The Baptist knew who he exactly was, Do you?
There is only one way, and that way is JOHN 14:6
6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.