John the Baptist was baptizing a lot of people. He had followers and he taught people. He was making a splash. So much so that the Pharisees were becoming concerned about a possible new sect sprouting up. So they sent some representatives out to find out more about what he was doing.
Everything John did pointed to Jesus. His ministry was about the Messiah. And so when the priests came and asked him who he was, his answers directed them to the Messiah. They said, “Who are you?” He said, “I’m not the Christ.” But that didn’t answer their questions. So realizing that he wasn’t going to start teaching them about his ministry, they asked, “are you Elijah?” and then, “are you the prophet?” (The Jewish people were expecting Elijah and the Prophet to come before judgment day). John answered both, “No, I am not.”
John wasn’t the only guy out there talking about the soon to come Christ, but he was different. He wasn’t claiming to be a great prophet, although he was. (Later in this chapter we will see God speaking directly to John). He wasn’t trying to gain fame for himself, but for Christ. He wasn’t trying to get rich, in fact he lived kind of a hippie lifestyle, eating organically in the wilderness and wearing clothes no one was going to rush out to copy. So the Levites were kind of exasperated and they said, “C’mon who are you? We’ve gotta tell the big wigs something!” So John answered, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.” (Verse 23).
John quoted Isaiah 40:3 to them. That should have answered them completely or at least piqued their curiosity, but the priests were not open to the truth of scripture, only their preconception about the scriptures and the prophecies. With this quote, John told them exactly who He was and once again pointed to the Messiah. But they were too stubborn to hear his answer and asked. “Then if you aren’t the Christ, and you’re not Elijah or the Prophet, why are you baptizing?”
John could have told them about himself, his ministry, his training and the good he was effecting but once again took the chance to tell them about the coming Christ. Instead of explaining who he was, his identity was related completely to Christ. His answer is recorded in verses 26-27.
“ John answered them, “I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know, 27 even he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.”
John was telling them that the Messiah was already living among them and He would soon begin His ministry. And the ministry of the Christ would be so much higher and better than his own. John baptized with water, but Christ would cleanse and purify differently. His ministry as so much higher that John couldn’t even untie his sandal. Even this sentence referred prophetically to Christ and should have caused the Levites to want to know more about Him. It alludes to Christ as our Bridegroom and John as the one unable to be a bridegroom
Every opportunity John had, he gave attention to Christ rather than himself. His entire ministry was about shining a light on The Light. He had gained fame. He could have live the comfortable life of a rabbi. Pharisees were worried about his identity. The government had taken notice of him. He was shining the light of Christ into the darkness of people’s lives and they were either humble enough to repent and want to know more about the Savior or they got angry and afraid.
Is your ministry about Jesus or you? Does your life point people to God’s power and grace or your charm and strength? Is your identity in Christ or in your flesh? When people ask who you are do they hear who Jesus is?
 Baptism was not a new concept in Judaism, it was something the people did to purify their bodies and prepare themselves for a closer walk with God. It was different than the ritual washings to that cleansed the body for particular sins. It was not because it had been prescribed by the law but because they were choosing to for something special. It had its roots when God revealed Himself on Sinai, before He did so the Israelites had to wash themselves and their clothes by immersion. When proselytes were ready to commit to Judaism, they were baptized to bring them into the protection of God.
 Deuteronomy 25 5-10