Recently Pastor Dusty spoke about the striking contrast between the three times Peter denied knowing Jesus and the three times the Lord offered Peter a chance to reaffirm his love for Him. The two charcoal fires of the New Testament….
In my devotions this week I came across another set of three “no’s” in the New Testament, this time in John 1:19-27. These “no’s” are very different from Peter’s; in fact, these “no’s” are crucial to our health and well-being because they help clarify our identity. Let me explain.
The priests and religious leaders came to John the Baptist to ask him who he was. Was he the promised Messiah? Was he Elijah, who was supposed to return before the Messiah came? Was he the Prophet spoken of in Deuteronomy? There is every reason to believe that the religious leaders of those days were suspicious and jealous of John, just as they would later be of Jesus, since he attracted great crowds to hear his preaching and he was causing quite a stir in Israel. John may have started a fire that the religious leaders wanted to stamp out quickly. John’s sermons were not flattering to the Pharisees and priests of the time. He might incite rebellion.
But John, a man used to speaking many words to the crowds who came to hear him, answered three times with a simple “no” to the Pharisees’ questions. When they finally pressed him to give them more of an answer, he proceeded not to talk about himself, but to proclaim the greatness of the coming Messiah Jesus.
The reason I think this is so profound for us is that John, who truly was a great man, was humble enough to know his true identity: who he was and who he wasn’t. How tempted we might be under pressure to toot our own horns and defend ourselves with a list of our accolades. John did none of that. He essentially said that his true identity only made sense in the shadow of the Almighty. Anything else was most likely a false self, a distorted ego representation of himself which never brings glory to the Father.
One of the greatest temptations we face from the Enemy of our souls is the puffing up of our pride. We often fall to this temptation to cover our shame and sense of worthlessness and insignificance. How freeing it is to respond to the Enemy with a “no, no, no!!!” and to look to Jesus with a “yes, yes, yes”, celebrating our smallness in the shadow of His greatness.