When Jews from Jerusalem sent a group of priests and officials to ask John who he was, he was completely honest.
He didn't evade the question. He told the plain truth: "I am not the Messiah."
They pressed him, "Who, then? Elijah?" "I am not." "The Prophet?" "No."
Exasperated, they said, "Who, then? We need an answer for those who sent us. Tell us something - anything! - about yourself."
"I'm thunder in the desert: 'Make the road straight for God!' I'm doing what the prophet Isaiah preached."
Those sent to question him were from the Pharisee party.
Now they had a question of their own: "If you're neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet, why do you baptize?"
John answered, "I only baptize using water. A person you don't recognize has taken his stand in your midst.
He comes after me, but he is not in second place to me. I'm not even worthy to hold his coat for him."
These conversations took place in Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptizing at the time.
The very next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and yelled out,
"Here he is, God's Passover Lamb! He forgives the sins of the world! This is the man I've been talking about, 'the One who comes after me but is really ahead of me.'
I knew nothing about who he was - only this: that my task has been to get Israel ready to recognize him as the God-Revealer. That is why I came here baptizing with water, giving you a good bath and scrubbing sins from your life so you can get a fresh start with God."
John clinched his witness with this: "I watched the Spirit, like a dove flying down out of the sky, making himself at home in him.
I repeat, I know nothing about him except this: The One who authorized me to baptize with water told me, 'The One on whom you see the Spirit come down and stay, this One will baptize with the Holy Spirit.'
That's exactly what I saw happen, and I'm telling you, there's no question about it: This is the Son of God."
The next day John was back at his post with two disciples, who were watching.
He looked up, saw Jesus walking nearby, and said, "Here he is, God's Passover Lamb."
The two disciples heard him and went after Jesus.
Jesus looked over his shoulder and said to them, "What are you after?" They said, "Rabbi" (which means "Teacher"), "where are you staying?"
He replied, "Come along and see for yourself." They came, saw where he was living, and ended up staying with him for the day. It was late afternoon when this happened.
Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, was one of the two who heard John's witness and followed Jesus.
The first thing he did after finding where Jesus lived was find his own brother, Simon, telling him, "We've found the Messiah" (that is, "Christ").
He immediately led him to Jesus. Jesus took one look up and said, "You're John's son, Simon? From now on your name is Cephas" (or Peter, which means "Rock").
The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. When he got there, he ran across Philip and said, "Come, follow me."
(Philip's hometown was Bethsaida, the same as Andrew and Peter.)
Philip went and found Nathanael and told him, "We've found the One Moses wrote of in the Law, the One preached by the prophets. It's Jesus, Joseph's son, the one from Nazareth!"
Nathanael said, "Nazareth? You've got to be kidding." But Philip said, "Come, see for yourself."
When Jesus saw him coming he said, "There's a real Israelite, not a false bone in his body."
Nathanael said, "Where did you get that idea? You don't know me." Jesus answered, "One day, long before Philip called you here, I saw you under the fig tree."
Nathanael exclaimed, "Rabbi! You are the Son of God, the King of Israel!"
Jesus said, "You've become a believer simply because I say I saw you one day sitting under the fig tree? You haven't seen anything yet!
Before this is over you're going to see heaven open and God's angels descending to the Son of Man and ascending again."
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)