John 1:19 Commentary - Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New TestamentIn these verses we have a second testimony which John the Baptist gave of our Saviour Jesus Christ. The Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem, saying, Who art thou? That is, the Sanhedrin, or great council at Jerusalem, to whom it belonged to judge who were true prophets, sent messengers to the Baptist to know, Whether he was the Messiah or not? John refuses to take this honour to himself, but tells them plainly, he was his harbinger and forerunner, and that the Messias himself was just at hand.
From hence note, How very cautious, and exceeding careful, this messenger of Christ was, and all the ministers of Christ ought to be, that they do not assume or arrogate to themselves any part of that honour which is due to Christ; but set the crown of praise upon Christ's own head, acknowledging him to be all in all. 1Co 3:5 Who is Paul? and who is Apollos? but ministers by whom ye believed?
Observe farther, In this testimony of John the Baptist, these two things:
1. A negative declaration, who he was not; I am not, says he, the Messiah whom ye look for, nor Elias, nor that prophet you expect: not Elias, that is, in your sense, not Elias the Tishbite; not Elias for identity of person, but Elias for similtude of gifts, office, and calling. John came, though not in the person, yet in the power and spirit, of Elias. He denies farther, that he was that prophet: that prophet which Moses spake of, Deu 18:15 nor any of the old prophets risen from the dead; nay, strictly speaking, he was not any prophet at all; but more than a prophet: The Old Testament prophets prophesied of Christ to come; but John pointed at, showed, and declared a Christ already come; and in this sense he was no mere prophet, but more than a prophet.
2. We have here the Baptist's positive affirmation who he was; namely, Christ's herald in the wilderness, his usher, his forerunner to prepare the people for receiving of the Messias, and to make them ready for the entertaining of the gospel, by preaching the doctrine of repentance to them.
From hence learn, That the preaching of the doctrine of repentance is indispensably necessary, in order to the preparing of the hearts of sinners for the receiving of Jesus Christ.
Observe lastly, The great and exemplary humility of the holy Baptist, the mean and lowly opinion he had of himself. Although John was the greatest among them that were born of a woman, and so much esteemed by the Jews, and had the honour to go before Christ in the exercise of his office and ministry; yet he judges himself unworthy to carry Christ's shoes after him: He that cometh after me is preferred before me, whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose.
Learn hence, That the more eminent gifts the ministers of the gospel have, and the more ready men are to honour and esteem them, the more they will abase themselves, if they be truly gracious, and account themselves highly honoured in doing the meanest offices of love and service for Jesus Christ. Thus doth the holy Baptist here: His shoes' latchet I am not worthy to unloose.
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Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament
William Burkitt (1650 - 1703) was a Church of England clergyman, bible expositor, and devotional writer.
Volume 1: Matthew - John, was published in 1700.
Volume 2: Acts - Revelation was published 1703.