Finishing His Course
John the Baptist had a specific course given to him by God. He was the forerunner of Jesus. He was to make the people aware of their sins and their need for repentance. He was to prepare the nation of Israel to meet their Messiah- wake them up to their need for a Savior. The Jews needed to realize that they had not lived up to the standards of the law and recognize the looming condemnation hanging over them. So John preached morality, repentance, and judgment, then baptized those who were truly seeking forgiveness.
When Jesus came, John began to point people to Jesus, even his own disciples- John and Andrew. He said of Jesus, "He must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3:30). His course seemed to end abruptly when Herod arrested him, imprisoned him, and then beheaded him.
Yet, Paul announced to those in the synagogue of Antioch in Pisidia that John finished "his course" (Acts 13:25). As John finished his course, he again pointed people to Jesus.
Every Christian's course bears this similarity- we are to point people to Jesus. How justified it would have seemed for John to garner a following after himself. How humbling it was to be locked in jail in the prime years of his ministry by the wicked king, Herod. How ignoble for a prophet to die on the whim of a dancing girl! Yet, this was the course ordained by God for John.
We know he was somewhat disillusioned over the circumstances of his imprisonment because he sent the remnant of his disciples to Jesus. They were to ask Him, "Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?" (Matthew 11:3). Yet even this query was part of the weaning process for John's disciples. They needed to turn from the mortal prophet of Israel to the immortal Savior of the world.
We too have a course laid out for us by God. Our course will take dips and turns that are unexpected and daunting. Often on this course, doubts will assail us. People will seek to honor us beyond our humanity. At every turn of the course, we must seek to point people to Jesus. "But behold, there comes One after me, the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to loose" (Acts 13:25).