Let me ask a probing question. Are you and I receiving a spiritual education? Are you and I, spiritually speaking, becoming educated persons? Here’s how we can tell.
When John the Baptist came on the scene, many came to him to be baptized in Jordan. Some of these became his close disciples. For we read that John had disciples. Now, what is the single-most thing John taught his disciples? I should rather say, what was it about himself that John the Baptist passed along to those who were his disciples?
It is this. John the Baptist lived, breathed, ate, slept, walked, talked… One Thing alone—to see the Christ of God, and join others to Him.
And there came a day when John looked up from his baptizing in Jordan, and saw Him coming to 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 (John 1.29,30).
John sums up his whole ministry now.
And I knew Him not: but that He should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing in water.
This was the whole purpose of his baptism—to prepare the hearts of the people for a Manifestation that was at the door, a shining forth of this One who was to come. It was a manifestation so radical, so “outside the box,” that, apart from John’s baptism, they would miss it!
John, as we read the passages of Scripture that speak of him… we touch a man with a deep, deep love in his heart. It is this, really, that he passed on to his disciples–his love for the Bridegroom. His one great desire was to see all those he was baptizing joined to the Bridegroom. In fact he called himself “the friend of the Bridegroom,” that is, one of the Bridegroom’s attendants.
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. He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3.29-30).
What self-effacing humility in this great man—whom Jesus later proclaimed to be the greatest “among them that are born of women” (Mt. 11.11). John had no interest in joining the people to himself. Yes, he was a rabbi in Israel—a guide, a leader, a teacher—his disciples called him, “Rabbi” (John 3.26). But his one concern was to see the people joined to the One who was coming after him.
And so, what a day it was for John when this One came to him to baptized in Jordan by him! He had accomplished his ministry.
This my joy is therefore fulfilled.
Again the next day as John was standing by the Jordan with two of his disciples, he lifted up his eyes and again saw Jesus walking along. As John watched Jesus, his eyes riveted on Him as he walked along, he said, “Behold the Lamb of God.”
The two disciples, whatever they were doing, heard their teacher speaking.
And they followed Jesus.
They left their beloved teacher, and began to follow this One. For this is what their beloved teacher had taught them—and he rejoiced when it began to happen.
Now comes the verse by which you and I can gauge the state of our spiritual education.
Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye? (Jn. 1.37).
Notice that—and I wonder if it wasn’t a test question. Jesus was asking, more or less, “What do you want? What is it you are after? What do you want from me?”
No doubt there were many things they could have asked for. But it was not some thing they wanted from this One… and I love this verse:
They said unto Him, Rabbi (which is to say, being interpreted, Master), where dwellest Thou?
What an answer. It shows us the kind of education these men had received from John. It shows us just how well educated, spiritually speaking, these men were.
Rabbi, where dwellest Thou?
What a letdown for John, right? His disciples are moving on to a new rabbi. But no, this is the very thing he had taught his disciples to anticipate.
Master is an old English word meaning Teacher.
Teacher… where dwellest Thou?
He saith unto them, Come and see.
It is His gracious invitation to those who are asking this question. “Come and see! Come and see where I dwell, come and dwell with Me. Do you want to be with Me? I want you to be with Me!”
Teacher, where dwellest Thou?
For, dwelling with Him, is not this The Answer to all our need and all our longings?
Teacher, where dwellest Thou?
In my estimation, those with this question growing in their hearts—this pursuit—are receiving a top-notch spiritual education.
Oh, for teachers like John the Baptist in our day!