Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. 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.’ I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.”
This is a very short passage, but it raises many questions. Who sent John to baptize people with water, giving him the message about Jesus? Why was John's testimony important? Why did Jesus, who was sinless, need to be baptized in John's baptism, a baptism of repentance? Why did the Holy Spirit come upon Jesus? Didn't he already have the Holy Spirit? What is the difference between being baptized with water and being baptized with the Holy Spirit? As these are important questions, we will answer them over three episodes. Today, we will look at John's testimony and how he received his mission and his messages.
John's testimony is a powerful confirmation of Jesus' divine nature and purpose. John had been given a divine commission to prepare the way for the Messiah by inviting people to a baptism with water, a symbolic act of repentance, and identifying the Messiah to the people by a specific sign —the descent of the Holy Spirit upon him.
How did God speak to John? The exact method is unknown, but God can speak to us in various ways. Through Scripture, prayer, inner promptings, dreams and visions, prophetic words, circumstances and signs, and godly counsel and community. This is a subject for another time. The fact is God spoke to John, and when John saw the Spirit descending like a dove upon Jesus during his own baptism (Matthew 3:16), he recognized the fulfillment of the sign.
He was then duty-bound to testify to others what he had seen because it would help them identify Jesus as the long-awaited Messiah. His testimony connected the Old Testament prophecies to the person standing before John, revealing Jesus' role in salvation history. This testimony not only pointed to Jesus' divine identity but also emphasized his mission to reconcile humanity with God by offering himself as the sacrificial Lamb.
Moreover, John's role as a witness was in fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies. The testimony of two or three witnesses carried significant weight in Jewish tradition (see Deuteronomy 19:15), and John's witness served as an important validation of Jesus' claims. It provided additional evidence and credibility to Jesus' identity as the Son of God.
Furthermore, John's testimony had a transformational impact on those who heard it. His words stirred curiosity and faith in the hearts of those present, leading them to seek Jesus and become his disciples. Through John's testimony, many were able to recognize and respond to the truth of Jesus' identity and message.
Through our testimonies, we can point others to Jesus, the Lamb of God, and invite them into a life-changing encounter with him. May we do so with the boldness of John.
God bless you.