There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.
Now this was John's testimony when the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, "I am not the Messiah." They asked him, "Then who are you? Are you Elijah?" He said, "I am not." "Are you the Prophet?" He answered, "No." Finally they said, "Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?" 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.'" (John 1:6-8 & 19-23, NIV)
Picture a time when you have been traveling to a destination that was new to you. Perhaps you have just a map, perhaps a printed list of directions, or perhaps a GPS system. Or maybe you have taken a trip through a large airport you were not familiar with (especially if you had limited time to get from one end to the other). In any of these scenarios, you would be referring to any guide you are carrying to ensure you are heading the right direction, but there would be another thing you are looking for, one that confirms without a shadow of a doubt, that you are almost at your destination. You are looking for a signpost. You want to see that little scrap of wood by the road that says, "Camp Swampy, turn right in 2 miles" or the one that reads "Gate Z75". Those markers are not the destination we seek, but they are a clear indicator that we are on track and headed where we want to go.
As my pastor (of late the most rich source of material for these posts), began his message from the passage in John noted above, I already had the title for this entry in mind. If there is any word which, in my estimation, can describe that wild and unique character of John the Baptist, it would be "signpost". John thinks so much of this idea that he interrupts his re-telling of the foundation of the Earth to introduce him to us as the one who bore witness to the Light - the signpost that would point directly to Messiah. And, apparently, John was comfortable with that role and quick to discount his being anything else.
There he was, a rather odd-looking character roaming the countryside with a message that echoed the prophet Isaiah. The religious leaders sent out their information gathering team and asked him if he were the promised Messiah. Calmly and directly, he tells them, "No." They then turn to their traditions and want to know if he is the reincarnation of Elijah or one of the other prophets they believe will show up to point the way to the Messiah. It would appear they weren't ignoring the task of looking for a signpost and legitimately wanted to know if John were fulfilling some specific role from their liturgy. Again, John tells them he is not that person. Frustrated, they ask who he is ... and here John quotes Isaiah with authority and confidence and in a manner I think shows he had complete confidence in the role God had called him to. He was a voice, calling out to others, urging them to get ready for the Promise to be delivered. He was, in no uncertain terms, a signpost.
So, how then can this apply to us today? I mean, Messiah came and already did the whole birth-death-resurrection thing as planned. And we believe He did and that's why we live with hope. But, here's the thing ... we still are called to be signposts. We are called to live in such a way that the things we value, do, say and act out declare that Jesus is alive. We are called, as was John, to point to Him.
As I travel this Crooked Path, I would do well to follow this advice. And, in being a signpost, I need to be careful not to berate or argue with others. I should not be so obsessed with winning my point that I alienate the one reading my signpost. I need to act out of humility, offering an alternative to the death and darkness that so permeates the world around me. Like the old hymn says, I need to be a lower light, always directing to the Light of the World. The signpost of my life needs to clearly say, "Jesus is alive! Ask me if you want to find out more."
- If somebody were to read the signpost of your life, what would they see and to whom or what would it point?
- Perhaps you are looking for a signpost yourself. If you are, what do you want to see and in which direction do you need it to point?
- Are you willing to be comfortable in your role as one who points to the Life and Truth that is Jesus? If you take that risk, don't you think that others can benefit and find that you can point them to Him?