Bible Study


Michael Beck

When he could have, John the Baptist refused to take the spotlight. He knew One was coming after him who was greater than him, and deserved the focus.

And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou? And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ. And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No. Then said they unto him, Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself? He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias. And they which were sent were of the Pharisees. And they asked him, and said unto him, Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet? John answered them, saying, I baptize with water: but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not; He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose. These things were done in Bethabara beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing. (John 1:19-28)

When John knew the identity of the Messiah, he pointed men to “behold” Him.

The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me. And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water. And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God. (John 1:29-34)

John was willing to lose disciples so they might become followers of Jesus.

Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples; And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God! And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. (John 1:35-37)

It was John’s greatest joy to see people united to Christ. To seduce them away from Jesus was unthinkable to him.

He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled. (John 3:29)

Once the Son of righteousness had arisen with healing in His wings, John was willing to “fade away into the sunset.”

He must increase, but I must decrease. (John 3:30)

John knew that Jesus had come from heaven to earth, and had an intimate relationship with the Father. He would be disclosing the Father to those who had ears to hear.

He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all. And what he hath seen and heard, that he testifieth; and no man receiveth his testimony. He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true. (John 3:31-33)

Because the Father gave the Son an unlimited flow of “wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him,” He was able to continually “speak the words of God.”

For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him. The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand. (John 3:34,35)

Jesus is in charge of the anointing. He is the baptizer in the Holy Ghost. Jesus will not permit the Spirit to “descend and remain” upon us unless we are signposts who relentlessly point to Him. The apostles were anointed because they faithfully “stayed on point.” They did not cease to “teach and preach Jesus Christ.”

And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ. (Acts 5:42)

Our initial focus can be Christ, but we can subsequently get off course and switch the focus to something else.

I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. (Galatians 1:6,7)

Paul warned against switching the focus away from Christ to either the Law or philosophy.

Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. (Colossians 2:8)

Paul knew that after he left, wolves would enter the flock who were more interested in making disciples for themselves instead of for Christ.

For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified. (Acts 20:29-32)

God’s true saints, who are His workmanship and “living stones” in His temple, do not praise themselves for where they are, what they’ve done, or what they know – they glorify Christ for what He has done and is doing in their lives.

All thy works shall praise thee, O LORD; and thy saints shall bless thee. They shall speak of the glory of thy kingdom, and talk of thy power; To make known to the sons of men his mighty acts, and the glorious majesty of his kingdom. (Psalm 145:10-12)

Paul was not interested in distracting men from Christ by attracting them to what he did and what he knew. He recognized two camps in the Body of Christ – the one loved those who displayed power; the other loved those who exhibited wisdom.

For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. (1 Corinthians 1:22-24)

Men glory in what they see themselves good at. They like to talk about what they think they know; impressing people with their expertise on a subject. But we should glory in only one thing – our intimate knowledge of God.

Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD. (Jeremiah 9:23,24)

Jesus revealed the key to true, anointed ministry – we are not to seek our own glory, but the glory of Him who sent us.

He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory: but he that seeketh his glory that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him. (John 7:18)

Paul, and the true ministers he surrounded himself with, did not “preach themselves.” They lifted up Christ.

For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake. (2 Corinthians 4:5)

Michael Beck is a pastor in the Dallas, TX area and the main author on Signpost. Receive a daily devotional he publishes every morning via email.