26 John answered them, saying, I baptize with water: but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not;

27 He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose. John 1:26-27

John the Baptist was a piece of work. He preached outside the city, heralding the coming Messiah whom the Jews had been eagerly awaiting. Everything about him screamed wilderness. Unkempt and ill-mannered, he wore camel’s hair and ate bugs, chastising the crowds for their sin no matter their station. Tax collectors, soldiers, and religious leaders alike– no one was spared his message of repentance. But despite his antagonism and poor fashion sense, the people turned out en masse, following him into the literal wilderness to be baptized.

The Israelites were, in fact, very familiar with wilderness. living; their history was rich with it. Noah and his family were the only ones spared from the flood of total destruction, so when they stepped off the boat, they stepped into the wilderness of a new world (Genesis 8:15-17). God told Abraham to leave everything behind and follow Him into the wilderness to the home He would show him (12:1). Moses led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt and into the wilderness where they would walk for forty years before reaching the promised land (Exodus 13:17-22).

And each time the wilderness served as a reset button that says: Life as you know it is over, and a new thing has begun.

John’s message from the wilderness was clear: Repent because the Savior of the world is already among you. What an ominous and cool thing to say, and imagine it accomplished its intended dramatic effect. No doubt the eyes of the people were wide with wonder when they asked, “Who the heck are you? The Messiah? Elijah? Some other super important person we should be excited about?” But John was just the guy pressing the wilderness reset button, and he made sure the people knew it.

I’m not the Messiah, so much so that I’m not even worthy to touch His shoe.

It wouldn’t be long before Jesus emerged from among the crowd, preaching a gospel radically different from what they expected, calling people to leave everything behind and follow Him on the path He would show them, rescuing them from slavery to sin, and by faith granting access to the promised land of heaven. And while He didn’t bring an end to the Roman occupation the way they’d assumed the Messiah would, He did indeed make straight the path in the wilderness.

And upon His arrival, the new thing had begun.


Ask God to reveal where you might need a reset, then express your willingness to go to the wilderness if necessary.


  • Describe a time in your life when you experienced the wilderness. How did God meet you there?
  • How do the words “from among you” impact the way you see Jesus?
  • What new thing is God doing in your life and heart right now?