1. Why did the Jewish leaders ask John if he was Elijah or the Prophet?
Deuteronomy 18:18-19 – I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their fellow Israelites, and I will put my words in his mouth. He will tell them everything I command him. 19 I myself will call to account anyone who does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name.
Malachi 4:5-6 – See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. 6 He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction.
The Israelites were expecting the prophet Moses wrote about and the coming of Elijah prophesied by Malachi. These would be authoritative figures in Israel. The Jewish leaders are asking if John is the Messiah or one of these prophesied figures so that they will know if they should listen to him or not.
2. If John is not one of these prophesied figures, why should the people listen to him?
John says he is the one who calls “Make straight the way for the Lord.” People should listen to him because he is preparing them to receive the Messiah. We should also be proclaiming the coming of the Messiah and preparing people to receive him.
3. Why does John say he is unworthy to untie the Messiah’s sandal?
John was very humble in his service to God. So must we be. We should recognize that Jesus is elevated so much higher than we sinful humans are. He is God and we are His creatures. He is the Ruler and we are His servants.
The grace of Jesus is that even though we are unworthy to serve Him, He loves us and wants us to show our love to Him by doing what we can for Him. He invites us to serve Him even though we don’t deserve to.
4. We’ve seen that Jesus is like the Passover lamb in that His blood shields us from God’s wrath. But how is Jesus like a lamb who takes away our sins?
In the Old Testament, God required that people make a sacrifice as a penalty for their sins. The animal would die instead of the person. Jesus takes our sin away by dying in our place, just as the animal would have died in its owner place. The difference is that Jesus died once as the penalty for everyone’s sins who would believe in Him.
Unlike animals, Jesus could die one time for everyone’s sins because He wasn’t a human person only; He was God. The infinite God died to cover an infinite number of sins.