John 1:19-28 JOHN QUESTIONED BY JEWISH AUTHORITIES
The John in this text is John the Baptist. In this
text he is investigated and questioned by the Jewish
This is an official investigation and is somewhat
equivalent to an investigation by a senate investigating
committee in our day.
I. The attitude of the Sanhedrin Council
In that day the Romans ruled
Romans allowed the Jewish Sanhedrin Council to rule in all
matters pertaining to the Jewish religion. There was but
one limitation. They were not allowed to impose the death
penalty. Thus, the Romans ruled in all civil matters and
the Sanhedrin ruled in all religious matters.
Therefore, when John the Baptist started preaching in the
him. It must have bothered them that John never asked their
approval for him to preach. Their interest in him became more
intense as John became more popular. It bothered them also that
people from all over the land were going to hear a man whom they
had not endorsed and many were being baptized by him. Matthew
3:5 says, "Then went out to him
the region round about
to investigate John and see whether or not he should be allowed
to continue his ministry. But they didn't. They feared what the
multitudes might do if they were to interfer with John's
However, the Sanhedrin became all the more interested in John
when people began to say that John might be the promised Christ.
Luke 3:15, "And as the people were in expectation, and all men
mused in their hearts of John, whether he were the Christ, or
not." The common people were expecting the Christ at any time
and many began to suspect that John is the Christ.
By this time the Sanhedrin decided that it was time for an
official investigation of John. They especially wanted to find
out if John claimed to be the Christ. Somehow, those Sanhedrin
members felt the same way Hanes lady does on television. She
says, "They are not Hanes until I say they are Hanes." The
Sanhedrin thought, "He is not the Christ until we say he is the
Christ." That is the way they felt about John the Baptist and
that is the way they would later feel about Jesus. They did not
understand that God reserved for Himself the right to determine
who is the Christ.
II. A delegation finally sent to quiz John the Baptist
finally they Sanhedrin sent a delegation from
meet with John the Baptist and to question him. V. 19, "And this
is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites
arrived they did not at first ask John if he is the Christ. They
simply asked, "Who art thou?"
What they really wanted to know was whether or not he claimed
to be the Christ. But if they directly asked that question, the
Scriptures does not mention it.
V. 20, "And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am
not the Christ." John the Baptist knew what they reallyu wanteed
to know and answered their question accrodingly. He confessed,
"I am not the The Christ. They wanted to know if he claimed to
be the Christ. So John set them straight right off the bat. to
The Jewish leaders must have been relieved to hear this, but
that still did not settle all the questions they had. V. 21,
"And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias?..." Elias is the
New Testament spelling of the Old Testament word, Elijah. One of
the Old Testaments prophets had said that before the great and
terrible day of the Lord would come, that Elijah would appear on
the scene. This prophecy was not intended to mean that Elijah
would literally come back to life. Rather, it was to inform them
that one like Elijah would come. One would come in the same
spirit and manner of Elijah. Later Jesus would tell His
disciples that John the Baptist is that Elijah who was to come.
He was not literally Elijah, but he did ocome in the spirit and
manner of Elijah and he was the fulfillment of that prophecy.
But the Jewish leaders had misunderstood the prophecy about
Elijah and they understood it to mean that Elijah would literally
return in the flesh. (V. 21), "...And he saith, I am not..."
John was the fulfillment of the prophecy in that he had come in
the spirit and power of Elijah, but he was not literally Elijah.
So he answered, "I am not Elijah."
(V. 21), "...Art thou that prophet?..." He had already told
them he is not the Christ and so that is not what they are asking
here. In view of Matthew's account of this question they must
have been asking if he was Jeremiah. (V. 21), "...And he
answered, No." He was not Jeremiah.
By this time the Jewish leaders were very perplexed. V. 22,
"Then said they unto him, Who art thou? that we may give an
answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself?"
V. 23, "He said, I am the voice of one crying in the
wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the
prophet Esaias." John quoted from the Prophet Isaiah. He said
that he is the voice crying in the wilderness that Isaiah
prophesied about. He was a messenger who had been sent to cry
out -- to herald the arrival of the promised King. Christ, the
King, was coming and John had been sent to tell the people that
Christ the King is about to arrive. He would tell them that they
should repent of their sin and get ready for the Christ to
V. 24, "And they which were sent were of the Pharisees." The
Pharisees were not the only ones in the Sanhedrin Council. They
were not even the largest group. The Sadducees by far
outnumbered the Pharisees on the Council, but apparently the
Pharisees were the most outspoken. Apparently they were the ones
who had been kicking up most of the fuss about John. So the
Pharisees were the ones who were sent to interview John.
V. 25, "And they asked him, and said unto him, Why baptizest
thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that
prophet?" By this time the Pharisees were getting bold with
their questions and they were putting more and more pressure on
John with their questions. They asked, "Why then are you
baptizing people? If you are not the Christ nor one of the old
prophets, what are you doing trying to change up the religious
customs of the Jews without our consent?"
V. 26-27, "John answered them, saying, I baptize with water:
but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not; He it is, who
coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe's latchet I am
not worthy to unloose." In effect what John said was, "The
Christ that I have been telling you about is already living among
you and you do not yet know who He is. I am sent to inform you
about Him. You fellows do not have to worry about why I baptize.
What you do need to do is get to know the Christ."
Then the John who is the writher of this book adds an
additional note. V. 28, "These things were done in Bethabara
was baptizing in the
III. Questions in the minds of people today
Listen, people today are somewhat like the Pharisees. They
are filled with all manner of question. They ask, "How can we be
sure that there is a God?" They ask, "If there is a God, where
was God before the world was created?" They ask, "Why does God
allow such things as the bombing of the federal building in
Sunday and listen to preaching?" "Why did John the Baptist
baptize and why do you Baptists baptize if it won't get you into
heaven?" "Where did Cain get his wife?" "When will Jesus come
back to this earth?" "When will the rapture take place? Will it
be before the Great Tribulation, in the middle of the Tribulation
or at the close of the Tribulation?"
The answer that I have is this: I will never in this
lifetime be able to answer all the questions that men may ask.
But there are some things that I do know for a certainty. I know
that God is real. I know that God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to
this world to be born in human flesh. I know that Jesus died on
the cross of
that I trusted in Jesus when I was sixteen years old and I know
that Jesus saved my soul. I know also that Jesus will save every
man, woman, boy and girl who calls on Him, trusting in Him for
salvation. I know that every one who will not call on Him and
trust in Him will spend eternity in the fires of hell. I know
that if you want to be saved, you had better stop wasting time on
endless questions and get right God.
What unsaved person will come this morning and take Jesus
Christ as your Savior?
What saved person will come this morning and place your
membership in this church to serve the Lord?