Daily Devotion: John 1:6–8
There was a man sent from God whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. 8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.
The New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), Jn 1:6–8.
John pauses his praise of the Word of God to clarify who John the Baptist was. And he iterates that John the Baptist was an apostle in the truest sense of the word — he was ἀπεσταλμένος, (apestalmenos), he was sent.
The true apostle isn’t defined by how much power he wields or if a church or denomination reports to him. The true apostle, beginning with John the Baptist, is defined by the fact that he has been sent by God to deliver a message, to testify about the light.
Thus, the measure of apostleship each one of us carries in our lives isn’t defined by rank in a church system defined by men. It’s whether we do everything in our lives as though we are sent by God as a witness to the light.
As we parent our children as though we are sent by a God who is a loving father who pours out grace upon grace on his children, we experience the true nature of being an apostle.
As we love our friends as though we are sent by a God who is willing to lay down his life for his friends, we experience the true nature of being an apostle.
Here’s the other oddity about this little praise pause.
The writer John wants to make it extremely clear — John the Baptist was not the light himself. I take this to mean not only John the Baptist as a person, which might be a concern in terms of who’s baptism to take on (a la Acts 18:25.) I take it to mean everything that John represents, as the last prophet of the Old Covenant, meaning the administration of the the Old Covenant. All that Moses gave, all that the prophets applied, and all that the kings administered — all of that is not the light. It merely was sent to us to as a witness to the light.
It’s an easy tendency to take nearly anything that is meant to be a witness to the light of Jesus to be the light itself. The Pharisees will do that throughout this gospel — one of the main points of contention throughout this narrative will be that the Pharisees know the Scriptures better than anybody, and yet can’t see that it all testifies about Jesus. And to take something that was merely meant to be a witness, to now be the all-sufficient-light-of-our-lives, immediately makes us blinder than ever.
But, to take all things as witnesses to the light, we get pointed towards the light that is unconquerable, that has not been overcome by darkness, and through which is all life.
Be the witness, and experience the witness of all things.