A Voice in the Desert

What makes a person a prophet of God? Personality? Character? Their message? Those may be indicators but there's only one true requirement—a calling from God.

I know people who consider themselves prophets and people others claim are prophets. But my question is often—Is this God's calling or a title they've taken on for themselves or that's given them by others?

John the Baptizer had a unique personality, a godly and strong character, and a clear, specific message. But what made John a true prophet was God's calling. It was announced before his birth (Luke 1:11-17) and confirmed by the Lord after his prophetic ministry (Luke 7:24-28).

This part of John's gospel story reveals the genuineness of John's calling. He knew who he was, his message, and his ministry. John was the voice of God to the people of Israel. He was a voice in the desert wilderness preparing the way for the long-awaited Messiah.


This was John’s answer when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” John didn’t refuse to answer. He told them clearly, “I’m not the Messiah.”

They asked him, “Well, are you Elijah?” John answered, “No, I’m not.” Then they asked, “Are you the prophet?” John replied, “No.”

So they asked him, “Who are you? Tell us so that we can take an answer back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?”

John said, “I’m a voice crying out in the desert, ‘Make the way for the Lord straight,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.” [vss 19-23]

Some of those who had been sent were Pharisees. They asked John, “Why do you baptize if you’re not the Messiah or Elijah or the prophet?”

John answered them, “I baptize with water. Someone you don’t know is standing among you. He’s the one who comes after me. I am not worthy to untie his sandal strap.” This happened in Bethany on the east side of the Jordan River, where John was baptizing. [vss 24-28]

(John 1:19-28 GW) [Context– John 1]

Key phrase—

I’m a voice crying out in the desert, ‘Make the way for the Lord straight’

Digging Deeper...

Review the Scriptures above as you answer the following questions

  • What does John say about himself when asked who he is? Who does he say he is not?

  • How does John describe who he is? How was this a prophecy in itself?

  • What do the Pharisees question John about? Why do you think they do this?

  • How does John answer their question and who do you think he refers to in his answer?


The Jewish people were expecting the Messiah to come deliver them from the Roman Empire. They expected some type of a military leader like the famous King David or one of the judges who helped govern Israel after the time of Joshua.

The Messiah was promised to come as voiced through various prophecies over many centuries. Messiah was referred to as "the prophet" (Deut 18:15, 18) and would be preceded by Elijah the prophet (Mal 4:5). Jesus told his disciples that John was the Elijah to come (Matt 17:11-13).

John knew who he was, his message, and his mission. He had a very specific purpose and role in his life—one God gave him. You may not have as specific a purpose in life but all of us have some purpose in God's Kingdom as His children.

We need to know who we are in God's kingdom regardless of our roles in life. We have one message to proclaim—the gospel of the Kingdom of God. All believers have one mission—to share this message of God's redemption with others throughout the world (Luke 24:45-49).

Taking it to heart...

Read through the Scripture text again as you consider and answer these questions

  • Why do you think the Jewish leaders challenged John after questioning him?

  • Do you think John fulfilled this prophecy given by Isaiah? If so, in what way?

  • If John refers to Jesus coming after him, why do you think he didn't think himself worthy to untie his sandals?

  • What did you learn from this story of John that relates to your life and relationship with the Lord?

Personalize it...

Meditate On This— Do you understand who you are and what your purpose is in God's kingdom?

Prayer Focus— If you're not sure about your purpose in God's kingdom, ask Him to make it known to you. If you are sure, ask God's help to fulfill this purpose in your daily life.