Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – MISTAKEN IDENTITY

JOHN 1:19-51

Children are usually taught that Thomas Edison invented the light bulb. But did he? In fact, many inventors worked on various types of lamps, including Englishman Humphrey Davy who illuminated a home in 1806. Davy produced a lamp by creating spark between two charcoal rods. Who was the true inventor?

In today’s passage we see confusion over the identity and authority of Jesus and John the Baptist. Who is the true Messiah? John the Baptist was attracting the attention of both the public and the religious leaders, who sent a committee to investigate who he really was. John was ready with a clear answer: “I am not the Messiah” (v. 20).

But if John was not the Messiah, then who was he? John answered his interlocutors, explaining both who he was and why he was sent. Like the prophets, John had been given a message from God to His people: “Make straight the way for the Lord” (v. 23; see Isa. 40:3). John made it perfectly clear that he was not the main attraction but rather the one who was announcing that the Messiah was soon to arrive.

In keeping with the religious practice of Judaism at that time, John baptized those who followed him with water, signifying their repentance and commitment to holiness. But only Jesus could baptize with the Holy Spirit, offering the forgiveness of sins and eternal salvation (v. 33). And only Jesus is the Son of God (v. 34).

John’s task was important, but he accepted that he paled in comparison to his Savior. He was willing to point others who were searching for the Messiah to Jesus—even when that meant that his own followers left him to follow Christ (vv. 35–42).


Repeat aloud to yourself John’s declaration: “I am not the Messiah” (v. 20). Sometimes we think that we are in charge of our own destiny. We become our own god, deciding what is best and what we should do next. But Jesus alone is God. We should be grateful to acknowledge Him as Lord and Savior and yield our lives to Him.

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