John the Baptist: ‘I am not the light’. John 1 v 19-34 John the Baptist looked exactly like an Old Testament prophet and the Jews headed to see and hear him in their droves! Was he going to be another flash in the pan or the real deal? The cousin of Jesus appeared in Galilee like a wild man out of the wilderness. It is probable that he spent his childhood living near to Jerusalem, as his father Zechariah was a priest. He may not have been a member of the Essenes in the Qumran community who lived in the wilderness area of Israel, but he took on some of their habits, like the baptism of repentance John preached. A prophet of the old sort and it had been 400 years since the last one! All the time, eagerly looking for the Messiah; and the cap seemed to fit with the Baptizer-, he looked like they expected; he spoke up against the religious hypocrites; he spoke wise and radical words. Early in the Gospel, John introduces us to the unholy cabal of Jewish religious leaders, their assistants and 'yes' men. They come to John the Baptist with a mental tick list of who he may be: not the Messiah, not Elijah, not Moses, not the Prophet, so who? When John retorts by quoting Isaiah 40 v 3 they respond with indifference. They have no real interest in discovering new things from Scripture. Their assumption is that they already know all that there is to know about that book and even about God! Make every effort to avoid becoming like those men! Don't ever get to the point when you think you know everything, that you have an answer for everyone! Closed, arrogant minds have run their course and there is little hope for any life in the future! John the Baptist points the way to Jesus, are there people around you who need Jesus pointing out? John the Baptist would not accept the title of the new Elijah or a prophet. He spoke only of being a voice, preparing the way for the one who was to appear soon. Humility and authority together in John the Baptist. He spoke the words God had given him and was content to say only those, he recognised that he had a limited role and once the Messiah appeared on the scene that he would diminish. Danger of allowing our ego and needs to overwhelm the mission God has called us to. For each of us there have been many people who have influenced our Christian growth and we have our part to play in others. ne greater born of women’, we read in Matthew’s Gospel that he was filled with the Holy Spirit from before his birth, yet John still fell far short of Jesus, the Messiah and he knew that! Everyone who has ever lived, however good, falls short of God’s glorious standards. Only Jesus fulfils all the criteria God has set out. John’s teaching was similar to that of Jesus, but he did not have the authority of Jesus. John the Baptist reflected the light wholeheartedly as the moon reflects the sun, but he was not the source of light. So, what was the role of John? He was in every way the forerunner of Jesus. Born six months before Him, in appearance and teaching the bridge between old and new covenants. His disciples became disciples of Jesus and it seems that he acted to prepare the Jews through his nature, words and calling, for the start of Jesus’ ministry. We see in the fact that it was John who baptized Jesus that, although God divinely chose the moment to begin Jesus mission, it was John who instigated it from a human point of view, demonstrating by his actions what he felt about this man. Jesus as Light of the world. One of the reasons why John lived was to testify to Jesus’ Messiahship. He called Him the ‘light of the World’, a visionary statement. I am often asked to give references to people who are applying for jobs and so on, or want a passport, driving licence or some support in a court of law. My reference concerning that person’s character will hopefully aid them. What references did Jesus have to His astounding claim to be the Messiah, the Son of God? What enables us to be confident when we say Jesus is the light of the world? If we are completely reliant on Him for our hope for the future and our trust for today, how do we know that we are not resting on some figment of our imagination? In the coming chapters of his book, John will call on EIGHT witnesses to testify that Jesus was exactly who He claimed to be: 1. The witness of the Father. John 5v37. ‘And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me.’ Remember that, at His baptism, John records that God spoke to him? Jesus knew who He was and was able to speak as from God because He was certain that He knew and heard His voice. 2. The witness of Jesus. John 8 v18. ‘’I am one who testifies for myself; my other witness is the Father, who sent me.” Jesus bore witness to himself in what He said, but what totally convinced people was his life. His character and actions matched up with his astonishing claims. 3. The witness of His works. John 5 v36. ‘For the works that the Father has given me to finish—the very works that I am doing—testify that the Father has sent me’. John is not only referring to the miracles of Jesus, but to all His life. This was a man who had spent every waking moment with Jesus for three years and would have been perfectly placed to witness any hypocrisy or shortcomings in Jesus. 4. The witness of Scriptures. John 5 v39. ‘You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me’. We were reminding ourselves recently that the coming of Jesus was no ‘plan B’ in God’s salvation plan for the world. It was not that obedience to the Law had failed so God sent Jesus. No, John 1v1 states clearly that Jesus was there from before creation and all through the Old Testament, we can observe God’s masterplan at work and ‘when the time was right...’. 5. The witness of John the Baptist. As we have seen, John clearly stated that he was not the Messiah, but was preparing the way for Him and then he told his disciples ‘This is the man!’ In verse 29 in the passage we have just heard, he exclaims: ‘’Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.’’ 6. The witness of those with whom Jesus came into contact. John 4 v39. ‘Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” ‘ People that met Jesus knew that they had spent time with someone unique. I think John the Baptist would have presented an awesome, perhaps scary, figure, but times with Jesus burnt deep into the memory cells! 7. The witness of the disciples. John 15 v27. ‘’And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.’’ Jesus stated. The gospel of John is written by someone who knew Jesus first-hand as one of his most intimate friends. 8. The witness of the Holy Spirit. John 15 v26. Jesus said, ‘’When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me.’’ It is the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts that enables us to discover that Jesus is the Light of the world If you were taken to court and you had EIGHT character witnesses to stand with you and declare your good character, what a blessed person you would be! What do you think of Jesus Christ? A good man? A demi-god? God dressed up as a human? A prophet? Someone to seek to emulate? Or God supreme, our only action, to fall down and worship Him?
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