John 1:19-28

“Who do you think you are?” usually comes with a particular tone attached. We might hear it when someone thinks that a person has overstepped their authority or expertise. Do you hear this tone in verse 19 when priests and Levites ask John, “Who are you?” (v. 22).

How does John sound when he responds? In our current conversational climate, “defensive” is the tone that often wins the day. If John were being advised on how to respond now, he might hear “lead with your résumé, offer character references, and include how many people you’ve baptized.” Instead, John confesses to the religious leaders who he is not. When his interviewers want more than his humble response, he describes his mission and points to the one he serves: “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’” as the prophet Isaiah said (v. 23). 

I can’t think of a clearer way to say what people of faith are called to do: raise our voices in the wilderness to make a path for Christ’s coming. John models how to present ourselves to world. Humility speaks volumes with its compelling witness. We are not the Messiah, though people of faith sometimes act like they could or should be.

We are those voices that make room for the One who comes. We can clear off the distractions on our desks and calendars that keep us from being attentive to God’s work. We can remind others to pay attention to what matters most. We can speak up in meetings when conversation strays from our true purpose. These weeks that are intended to prepare our hearts for Christmas can remind us of who we are. We are those making a path for God’s advent in the world.


When you envision a way “made straight” for the Lord, what work needs to be done? What barriers, twists, or turns could you address to make way for God’s advent in your life?


Loving Savior, thank you for choosing to be present with us. May I treasure your presence enough to remove from my life all that distances or distracts me from you. Amen.

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