John's Witness To Jesus

John 1:29-34

This sermon is trinity based.  The Father called John from the womb.  By the power of the Holy Spirit He sent John  to reveal (in the spirit of Elijah although he was not Elijah) God's only Son to the world, upon whom His favor rests.  Both the Spirit and the Father are revealed in Jesus.  No one has seen God.  The only Son of God has revealed His fullness to us.  The Spirit and the Son are now saying, see in Jesus our fullness, through John the Baptist.  See verse 29:

The next dayJohn saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!"

Take a look at Isaiah 53:7 which says:

"He was  oppressed and afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; He was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so He did not open His mouth."

This is the only place in the Old Testament where you will see what John was saying.

John was still baptizing the next day.  The audience here remains anonymous.  It could have been his disciples and others who came to hear him identify who the Messiah is.  John pointed to an individual coming down the road.  The testimony to the Jewish people must be seen in conjunction with the testimony of verse 36:

When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, "Look, the Lamb of God."

Right after this John will tell them, "Follow Him."  John the apostle, who brought these words to us in the gospel, sees Jesus Christ in a three-fold manner throughout the entirety of the gospel. 

1.  He is a lamb as a deliverer.  My deliverer is coming, my deliverer is standing by.  A deliverer of the flock, He will be a shepherd.  The shepherd, who is a male ram, spotless, will also give His life so that the whole flock will live.  So He saves us from our sins that we have committed; and He also begins to deliver us from our sinful nature, the way to wholeness, that we would take on the very image of His Son, who is spotless and blameless.

2.  The apostle also sees the lamb as a shepherd over the entire flock.  He leads and guides the flock as God the Father leads Him; and the words God the Father gives to Him, He gives to the flock

3.  He also sees Jesus as a ruler.  We have the lion of the tribe of Judah, a ram victorious, rising up out of the grave, once mortally wounded.  He is an eternal king, the King of kings.

When you hear "The Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world," you should see all three images at once.

The apostle John also sees Jesus Christ as  Messiah.  Lamb and Messiah, man and God.  Just like He was the deliverer, He is the redeemer and savior.  He is the anointed Son of God who wins salvation for His people through His death and resurrection.  He is a lamb that was slain from the foundations of the earth, because the decision was already made.  He is conquerer and Lord.  This is our lion of the tribe of Judah.

Isaiah chapter 52 talks about the suffering servant.  He died willingly.  In the book of Revelation, beginning in Chapter 5, the lion shall return and conquer and subdue the earth.  And He is judge and king.

Judge and king, ruler and conquerer, Lord and redeemer, savior and deliverer; they all go together.  The anointed of God, whose mission is to bring all the unrighteous (all of us), to take us out of that and to bring us before the throne victorious.  But for those who won"t bow the knee, He brings them to judgment.

A lion and a lamb.  For us, we choose both.

John's Witness To The Jewish Leaders

John 1:19-28

John would have been a priest as a profession.  But in all his years, he would never set foot in a temple setting.  Yet he would be the greatest of every person born of a woman.  John fulfilled his role as a priest through his witness to the Jewish leadership.  In verse 21:

"They asked him, 'Then who are you?  Are you Elijah?"

John strongly confessed that he was not the Christ. In verse 23 John tells them what scripture said in Isaiah;

",,,,,I am the voice of one calling in the desert.  Make straight the way for the Lord"

Then they asked John why he was baptising, if he was not the One, if he was not Elijah.  Who gave you the right then?  Look what John says in verse 26:

"I baptize merely with water, John replied, but among you stands one you do not know.  He is the One who comes after me, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie."

Verse 28 tells us that these things were done on the other side of the Jordan River, at Bethbara, where the river was shallow.  This was a very pagan place.  Evil sacrifice of human flesh was going on around there.  John is among pagans talking about a holy sacrifice, because the Great I AM is coming.  His harvest is not of human flesh, but of eternal lives.   All this is going on and John picks this spot to baptize people.  If you read Matthew 3:10-12, you will find that Jesus is the Holy One who is coming for His eternal harvest at the end of all times.  

Bethbara was mentioned in the Old Testament as a strategic place of conquest by Gideon.  Also,, the death of Saul was here.  He committed suicide.  It is also the site of the crossing of the Jordan River by Joshua with the Ark of the Covenant.  It parted, just like the Red Sea parted.  What a spot John chose!  Where John was baptizing was where the Passover would begin.  Where John was baptizing is where Jesus began to baptize, in the same spot.

Do you think the pharisees didn't like an upstart priest who didn't come to the temple, who didn't follow the rules, who didn't hold all the traditions with them, and was some wild man with goat's hair, and ate wild locust and yelled at the top of his lungs, a renegade priest like that?  They didn't know what was happening, so they sent some really choice people from the Sanhedrin to ask some questions.  In verse 19 they ask John who he is.  In the Greek it reads "Are you He?"  John strongly confessed, "No Way."  The strong language that John used was used in other places by Jesus (Luke 9:26):

"If anyone is ashamed of me and my message, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when He returns in His glory, and the glory of the Father and the holy angels."

There is a warning.  Never be ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ, for it has the power to bring salvation to you and everyone around you.   Never be ashamed.

Everyone was expecting the Messiah to come soon, according to the gospel of Luke.  They had been waiting for 430 years in silence.  There was a fever pitch when John got there.  It was a time when everything was going wrong, no one was speaking the truth.   God had been silent for so long, and then John the Baptist says, "Prepare the way for the Messiah.."     

In verse 21, they asked him another question,  ",,,,Are you Elijah?"  Elijah had to come before the Lord would return.   John used the same strong language.  Absolutely no way!  They asked him, Are you THE prophet that Moses talked about that would come in the name of the Lord Himself?  John answered no again.  

Notice that they saw these three, the Christ, Elijah, the  prophet, as separate people.  They thought the Messiah would be a person, Elijah would be himself, and the prophet would be another person.   They were  waiting for three people, but how many did they get?  Two.

The anointed One, the Christ, the Messiah, Jesus is also the prophet, the One who will come in the name of the Lord.  They had misinterpreted that one and three were the same God.  In this person, Jesus Christ, you not only have Messiah, you don't just have prophet; you have man and God inside the same person.  Can you see the confusion?

"Are you Elijah?" depended on the prophesy of Malachi 3:1:

"See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me.   Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to His temple; the messenger of the covenant , whom you desire, will come," says the Lord Almighty.

Here is where they interpreted it wrong Malachi 4:5:

"See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes."

Was the day Jesus came to us a dreadful day?  No.  It was the coming of the Kingdom, the coming of the day to repent, for the kingdom of Heaven was at hand.  This is your chance to come in.  The great and dreadful day was the end of the entire existence of the universe.  The Jews misinterpreted.  Elijah was not coming right away.  He was coming much later.

The pharisees thought that Elijah would anoint the Messiah, or baptize Him, and that would identify Him to Israel.  Well, that's what John did.  They further assumed that Elijah would have to come back in the same way he left, in a flaming chariot.

Finally, the religious authorites were only expecting Elijah to come one time.  Here is yet another misreading of the scripture.  They thought he would come and wipe out the Romans, makes  them the rulers of the Middle East; and God's kingdom and man's kingdom would be one and the same, and God would live with us forever, and the garden will be restored.  It will happen, but only after a big battle at Armaggedon, and only  after most of the population has been destroyed.

Another question.   "Are you the prophet?"  It's Moses' words in Deuteronomy 18:18 that makes the pharisees wonder:

"I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers; I will put my words in His mouth, and He will tell them everything I command Him.  If anyone does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name, I myself will call Him to account.

In other words, you will be condemned if you do not listen to the voice and the words of Jesus the Christ, the Son of the Living God.  So, John says there will be a man who is greater than me, who is born a person right out of the brotherhood.  His words will be different than my words.  It will be word for word--the Father says it, the Son speaks it. 

The pharisees thought the prophet coming would lead them into a new eternal kingdom.   They did get one thing right, that He would enlighten the people to know God personally and reveal God fully.  The prophet was not the same as the Messiah in their minds. 

In verse 22, they said you are not the prophet, not the Messiah, not Elijah.   Who are you?

John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, "I am the voice of one calling in the desert, 'Make straight the way for the Lord."

How many people are comforted knowing God loves you, that you are forgiven and are going into Heaven?  Look what happens.   Whenever there is a decision to be made that is eternal, there is a consequence.  The opposites of comfort, love, joy, peace, glory are condemnation, separation, and darkness. Isaiah 40:1 says:

"Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.  Speak tenderly to Jerusalem and proclaim to her that her hard service (sin) has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the Lord's hand double for all her sins."

Where sin abounds, grace abounds ever the more, Paul says.  Bring down the lofty spirit.  Become humble, and bring up the lowly, the ones who have nothing.  Bring up your brother and sister with you, that the rough places may be made smooth; so that the glory of God can be revealed.  That's what Jesus is going to do when He comes back.  We will see His shining glory.  And ever eye, tongue and ear will have it revealed to them all at once.  Can you imagine?

This is John.  Comfort, joy, He's coming.  Everything will be made right. The biggest problem in the Christian Church today is that we get to the point where we feel that we have no more need for forgiveness, to be saved from our sins, and we don't have to go any further.  We've gone far enough.  We are saved.  They were doing the same thing back then. 

Look how John answers the pharisees who ask him why he was baptizing.  "I'm doing what a priest should do" was his answer in  verse 26.  But there is somebody else,  who is already here."  He is all around you, within you, by the power of the Holy Spirit.  He is so holy, so perfect, and so beautiful. 

 

The Word Of God Reveals God

John 1:14-18

The Word was spoken from the beginning of time by God Himself, and God Himself was in three persons;  one of the persons, the second person, was Jesus (Logos/Word).  Jesus reveals the Father to us.  In the beginning, the Word (the Logos) already existed.  The Word (Logos) was with God and He was God.  Through Him God made all things.  The Word (Logos) was the source of life, and it brought Light to people.  It shines in the darkness, and the darkness can't put it out.

God sent His messenger, John the Baptist, to give witness to people about the Light, so that people would believe. He himself was not the Light.  He came to testify about the real Light, the Light that was to come into the world, and shines on all people.  The Word (Logos) was in the world, though the world did not recognize Him.  He came to His own country, but His own people did not receive Him.   To those who believed Him, He gave them the right to become God's children.  They did not  become God's childlren by natural means.  God Himself was their father.  The Word (Logos) became a human being, full of grace and truth, and lived among us.  John gave witness about Him when he cried out as His messenger in verse 15, saying that this is the one he was talking about who comes after John, but He is greater than John.   The Word came and lived among us, and we saw His glory, the glory which He received as the Father's only Son.   

For glory to be glory, it must be seen, it must be witnessed, and it must be witnessed personally.  There are places in the gospel of John where the Spirit testifies about the Son, the Son testifies about the Father, and the Father testifies about the Son.  So literally, they have witnessed their own glory forever and ever. 

First, glory is witnessed by God Himself, within Himself.  It is also witnessed by the very first creatures He created, which are the angels.  They have been witnessing God's glory since the moment they were made, before there was ever a universe, before we were here.  They were also there at the moment of creation, to see us born. 

So, for glory to be glory, it can also be witnessed, most importantly, by people.  We witnessed it first at the moment of creation, in the garden of Eden, on day six, when Adam was born.  He beheld all of God's glory around him.  And then to see his helpmate, the daughter of God, being born, Eve.  Then together, they beheld God's glory together.

Then it was witnessed at varying times throughout the Old Testament. Just one of the places you can look for that is in Exodue 33:7, and other places like it, where there could be seen shining glory.  It was seen by Moses on Mt. Sinai.  It was so brilliant, that God said He could not let Moses see His full glory, so Moses saw Him from the back.  When Moses came down from the mountain, his face glowed so much it was covered.  

In the New Testament, it's witnessed in the face of Jesus Christ.  That is what we are witnessing today.  God's glory is now seen in the person of Jesus Christ.  If you look into His face, you see a veiled glory.   It's witnessed continually, since the day of Pentecost by all of us (Acts 2).  What was seen there?  Actual tongues of fire over the heads of the followers.  It is witnessed by us today from within, as the Holy Spirit resides within our hearts.

Jesus' glory is manifested through four things: 

1.  His incarnation.  When He came down from Heaven, and was born as a man, fully God, fully man.  The miracle of the Incarnation has His glory veiled within it.  Remember what the angel said to Mary:  The glory of the Lord will come over you, and it will be seen within you.  So you have this idea of glory going all the way from Heaven to earth and into the womb of the virgin.

2.  His signs, miracles and wonders.  Here is what John says.  The miracles are signs, the wonders are signs, but there are also heavenly and earthly signs in the physical realm that represent God's glory.  Every time you run into one of these, you run into the glory of God.  You see it through the works that Jesus does, and through the works of creation.

3.  His crucifixion and death.   The high point of the gospel of John is in chapter 19:35.   In that verse, this is what is displayed:  the glory of God.   "It is finished."  There is a moment of absolute glory in absolute death.  What did He do for us?  He gave Himself, even to the point of death, even to death on a cross.  Because of that His name is higher than all names, every knee shall bow when the glory returns, when He comes back.

4.  FInally, we see a glimpse of that glory in His resurrection.  His body was glorified.  

God in Christ is the fullness of the Father. Three entities in one.  This illustrates that the Word (Logos) is one and the same with God Himself in the person of Jesus Christ.  The Word (Logos) means the perfect mind of, the perfect will of, the perfect love of, the perfect grace and truth.  The Word of God is the very person of God.  When you see Jesus, you see the Father.

John the Baptist spoke;  he cried in the wilderness, that he was testifying that Jesus is the One because He existed before John, before anything was born.  How great is He?  The person of Jesus Christ has a precoexistence with God the Father.

Why does God bless us every day?  He gives us one blessing after another.  He loves us.  The primary reason according to John is so that we can grow.  Knowing and loving God every day should transform us, and we should become like Christ.    We must be renewed, remade and remolded, refashioned.  God has to take this broken jar that He perfectly made, and reform it.  That is what the Holy Spirit is doing today.

When we accepted Jesus Christ into our lives, He forgave it all-- He justified us.  He restored the image of God, but not the likeness. That's what has to be remade, to grow in the likeness of Christ

My image is God, my likeness is godly.  Is there a willingness to grow?  God is asking us to have a daily continual decision to want to grow.

Born To Be God's Child

John 1: 9-13

In the beginning, the Word, the Logos, already existed.  The Word, the Logos, was with God, and was God.  And through Him, God made all things.  Not one thing in all creation was made without Him.  The Logos was the source of all Light for all people. It shines in the darkness, which has never put it out.  God sent a messenger, John the Baptist, who came to witness to the Light, so that all should hear the message and believe.  John came to testify about the Light, the real Light, who shines on all people. 

The Word, the Logos, came to His own country, but His own people did not recognize Him.   Some did believe, and were given the right to be called God's children.   They did not become God's children by natural means, but God was their Father. 

This is what we are called to do by faith:  to receive and to believe.  To receive that which was revealed to us, and to believe it with all our heart, mind, and soul; and then to live it in the world.  Verse 9 tells us that this was the real Light, the Light that comes into the world, and shines on all people.  When God promises that the Light would come into the world throughout the entirety of the Old Testament, the Light refers to God or Christ.  God kept His promise to bring the Light of the world throughout the entirety of the New Testament.  So what can you infer about Light when reading the New Testament? Who does it refer to all the time?  God Himself or Christ.  

The Light has two connotations in the text this morning.  The first one is this.  It brings with it the word "judgment," and associated with it is the word "darkness."  People living in darkness are still living under the judgment of God.  Second, it brings also this idea - "light."  Light is the opposite of darkness, and the opposite of judgment is "salvation."  So wherever the Light comes it brings salvation in its train.   Jesus Christ is the promised Light of the Old Testament, and the answer to the promise in the New Testament; and He is the One that reigns forever. He is the One alone who reveals the Father to us.  No one has seen God, but Christ has revealed Him to us.

There is the concept of the absence of God in a person's life.  What is it synonymous with?  It is synonymous with darkness and judgment, but there are some other words:  condemnation, alienation, and separation.  I think the most terrifying description of hell is this: being separated from everyone you have ever known, being separated for eternity from anything but yourself and what you have done.  Doesn't that sound alot worse than flames?  Is there anything worse in life than being separated from those that you love?  We live for fellowship.  We live for relationship, because that's the way we were made.  If we are separated from God, we have all these feelings.  Think about that the next time you are speaking to someone who doesn't know Him.  Think about the pain, the anguish, the hopelessness of having a relationship that matters the most shattered, separated.

The presence of God in a person's life is synonymous with light, salvation, communion, family, and relationship.  The word that summarizes the whole of the Bible is community.  That word comes out of a word that is higher than that.  Communion.  God wanted to be in "communion" with us.  Therefore, we formulate community around us, and we strive to make it the best that it can be, and the friendliest that it can be, because we long for that communion. 

In verse 10 we read that the Word (Logos) was in the world (the cosmos), but the world didn't recognize Him.  I want to point out to you that the word  "world" has three meanings, each connected to each other.   In verse 10a it denotes the universe, the cosmos, including the earth.  God created the entire universe with the earth in it.  Next, the word "world" denotes the earth, the planet itself.  Then, it focuses in like a satellite focusing down on a street.  It focuses in on humanity.  Third, it focuses in just on you and me.  The Word, the Logos, was in the world, and  He made the earth, the planet, with the people o n it. They did not recognize Him. 

If  you read chapters 1 and 2 of Genesis,  here is what you are going to see.  In the first chapter, you will read how God created all the things on certain days; but in the second chapter, it  will be the universe, the earth, and then down to man.  There is a focus just like in John's prologue, with the focus being you as an individual that He loves.

God was in the universe, reconciling the whole of it to Himself.  He is not just reconciling one individual.  He is reconciling all of it, even the death of animals and the universe.  Christ is redeeming everything that we put into corruption and decay by  our actions.

In verse 11 we read these words;

"He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him."

Israel is a people particularly called God's own people.  We find this in Exodus 19:5 and in Romans 15:8, and John 4:22.  Israel had to reject Him.   Here's what Jesus did.  He took the original tree of the Jewish people, and the other tree of the Gentile people, and grafted them into one tree, like there was in the Garden of Eden- the tree of life in the center of the garden.  He is making a new tree, where there is only one tribe, one shepherd, one sheep, one people.

So you have this idea of being rejected for a time, in order to be accepted back in.   Jesus died outside the walls of Jerusalem, on a hill called Golgath.  Think about that.  Jesus said in Matthew 21:42-44:

"Have you never read in the Scriptures.  'The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone.  The Lord has done this and it is marvelous in our eyes.'  Therefore, I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.  He who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed."

This idea of rejection and giving to another--in verse 12 of John, some did believe Him, so they were given the right to become God's children.  Adoption into God's family is what has happened to us.  Adoption into God's family is not from us.  It is not by a birthright, nor any personal desire.   It is totally a work of God.  It is God's decision, His promise, His work of salvation through His only Son; it is God's continued call on your life; it is God's sustaining love and mercy when you wake up each day.  Adoption into God's family means God is always present with you, and He is always blessing you, and redeeming you, and giving you strength. 

But it goes further than that.  Adoption into God's family is a gift of God.  It is given freely.  It is only possible because of God's perfect, unconditional and unfailing love for us that will never end.  It is by faith alone.  There is no other way to receive adoption.  There are the two words for you, found in verse 12.  You must receive and you must believe.  These are the requirements of a child of God to be adopted.

In verse 13, we do not become a child of God by being born of a human body.  God Himself is our Father.  The key understanding is birth by God's Will, born from above.  Not birth by my will, meaning born from below.  This is a key difference.  God offers this adoption freely and lovingly from above.  This is what it means to be "born again."  Born again by God alone, born by His Will, and not mine, His understanding, and not mine.  God willed it one way, 2000 years ago, by a man born under the law, born of a woman, who walked among us and became God in the flesh; who lived a perfect life, who sacrificed perfectly on a cross, who rose again three days later, ascending 40 days later, and will descend shortly.

 

 

A Witness To The Light

John 1:6-9

In the beginning, the Word (Logos) already existed, and the Word was with God.  The Word (Logos) was the source of Life, and the Life brought Light to people. The Light shines in the darkness.   God sent His messenger, John the Baptist, to witness to people about the Light (Christ), so that they could hear the message and believe. 

John was predicted to come according to Old Testament prophecy.  Matthew includes a descrition of John's actvity in Chapter 3:3 of his gospel:

This is He who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah:  "A voice of one calling in the desert, prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for Him."

As the last of the Old Testament prophets, John was to represent another Old Testament prophet, Elijah. Malachi 3:1 says:

"See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way for me.  Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to His temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,," says the Lord Almighty.

John the Baptist acted in the spirit of Elijah, and Elijah will act in his spirit duirng end times.  Malachi 4:5-6 tells us:

"See, I will send you the propht  Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes.  He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse."

When John heard, in prison, about Christ's works, he send two of his disciples to ask Him if He was the One, and Jesus answered them in Matthew 11:4-5:

Jesus replied, "Go back and report to John what you hear and see.  The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor."

The real Light that shines on all came into the world.  The  structure of John's gospel testifies to this saving truth, found only in Jesus Christ.  John included a double beginning to his gospel-the prologue and John the Baptist's testimony in verse 29:

"...Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world." 

John also included a double ending to his gospel in chapter 20:30-31:

"Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of His disciples...But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name."

Jesus came as the Light to the world, so  that whoever follows Him will not walk in darkness (John 8:12).    What should we do with this new insight into God's call on our lives?  Paul tells us in 2Corinthians4:5-7: 

"For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake.  For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' made his Light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.  But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us."

We need to be transformed daily by the Holy Spirit, who has revealed the Light to us, as He did to John the Baptist and John the apostle.  We are entrusted with keeping the Light as Christ's disciples, sharing His Good News with people around us who are perishing every day in darkness.