John the Baptist was the voice calling out in the wilderness to make straight the way for the Lord. He was humble in denying that he was Messiah, Elijah, or a prophet. He was simply fulfilling his mission to point out the Lamb of God who takes away our sin…
19 Now this was John’s testimony when the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. 20 He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, “I am not the Messiah.”
21 They asked him, “Then who are you? Are you Elijah?”
He said, “I am not.”
“Are you the Prophet?”
He answered, “No.”
22 Finally they said, “Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?”
23 John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’”
24 Now the Pharisees who had been sent 25 questioned him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?”
26 “I baptize with water,” John replied, “but among you stands one you do not know. 27 He is the one who comes after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.”
28 This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptizing.
John Testifies About Jesus
29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.”
32 Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. 33 And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.”
The religious leaders of the time approached John the Baptist to clarify his identity, as John was clearly being identified as a prophet (or something) in their region. John was clear with them that he is not the Messiah (the Christ). They also asked if he was Elijah, because of a prophecy in Malachi 4:5 which predicted that Elijah would come back to earth prior to Messiah.
Jesus would later explain that John was the Elijah who was to come. John, however, was not looking to be identified in that way. His purpose relates to Isaiah 40, in that he had come to be a voice in the wilderness and to make straight the way for the Lord.
And in John’s responses there are two bolded truths above. Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, and he will baptize with the Holy Spirit. This is the first time in John’s book that the Spirit is mentioned, and in relating the Spirit to Jesus in John the Baptist’s words, the Apostle John introduces us to the Trinity and the inter-relatedness of the Godhead.
Jesus was with the Father in the creation of the world, both with God and in essence God himself, and now Jesus is the one who will baptize people with the Holy Spirit, the third member of the Trinity and the agent of regeneration of our hearts and lives.
Jesus the Lamb of God takes away our sin. Holy Spirit is the agent of change in our spirits and subsequently our lives. And John is not taking credit for any of it. He is the voice. He is calling out. And God be praised that John was the witness of Jesus – the voice calling out to introduce the world to the Son, the Lamb, the Lord, and the King.