John the Baptist – John 1
This message is a part of our series on the Gospel of John.
Find the rest of the messages in this series here.
Early in John’s Gospel we are introduced to a pretty incredible witness. He didn’t fit the norms- he didn’t look like a preacher. He didn’t setup shop and his ministry in the city… and he was preaching a pretty wild message.
A lot of the religious types looked at him and scratched their heads… but he was clear on his role.
John the baptist was a witness to the identity of Christ.
John the baptist testified about Jesus on 4 occasions in this passage:
6There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
7The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.
15 John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me.
29 The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.
34 And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God
“In the 1980s, Robert Mazur was a U.S. Customs agent tasked with infiltrating the Medellin Cartel, aka Pablo Escobar’s Cartel.
Mazur adopted the persona of a money launderer and caught a flight to Colombia.
Mazur’s work led him to the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI), a major front for a vast array of criminal enterprises, including the largest money laundering operation in history, arms trafficking, kidnapping, and assassinations for hire.
During his years undercover, Mazur became a personal friend to many senior BCCI and Medellin figures.
He managed to infiltrate two of the most terrifying criminal organizations in history at the same time.
Once he had enough evidence, Mazur then needed to lure this international group of villains to the States so the American government could arrest them. Fortunately, the criminals were already acquainted with fellow undercover agent Kathy Ertz, who had been posing as Mazur’s girlfriend.
Mazur and Ertz announced that they were getting hitched, and invited everyone to Tampa for the wedding.”
Robert Mazur was an incredible witness for the prosecution of these criminals.
I want you to see that John the Baptist is an incredible witness, an extraordinary witness…
John the Baptist is extraordinary because of the location, the manner, and the substance of his testimony.
28These things were done in Bethabara beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing.
19 And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou?
The Jewish leaders had to send men to question John the Baptist where he was because he wasn’t nearby. He was not in Jerusalem.
He was out in the wilderness.
John 3:23 tells us at that point where John was because it was a place with much water.
John spent a good deal of his time near the Jordan River beyond Bethany. It was away from everything.
It was separate… It wasn’t at the holy sites, it wasn’t in the city where the seats of power and prestige were…
This was extraordinary because these people lives in a culture of annual pilgrimages.
They would travel to Jerusalem at least once a year, but for most many times a year to worship God at the Temple.
The temple was the place where God had his dwelling with the people and it was the place where they would come to be ceremonially cleansed, to offer sacrifices of animals which would take the punishment for their sins in a substitutionary way…
All of these rituals were administered by the Levites and Priests… the men who sent these questioning John in verse 19…
Now, previously the people had this ritual of traveling to meet with God, to be near him, to honor him…
Now, they were participating in this act of baptism, this ritual and they were there in the wilderness where they lived and worked…
They weren’t traveling to meet with God,
God had come to meet with them.
John’s location was an indication that everyone would have access to God, everyone would have access to the Kingdom….
4Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain:
5And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together:
People think that Chandler is farther away than it really is… It’s closer than you think…
People think that God is further away than he really is… He’s closer than you think…
God is closer than you think.
“The kingdom of God is at hand”
There is one among you, who’s sandals I am not even worthy to untie…
The manner of John’s testimony was baptism.
John was known as John the Baptist because he came baptizing.
These priests wanted to know under who’s authority was he baptizing if he wasn’t the Messiah…
And they asked him, and said unto him, Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet?
The idea of baptism was not foreign to the people, there were ceremonial cleansing rituals that people would practice, but they were self administered. It was a kind of ceremonial bathing… For John to be doing the baptizing was out of the ordinary. It was different.
The Priests want to know why are you doing this?
John’s response is
26 John answered them, saying, I baptize with water: but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not;
John’s response gives us a good look at what John the Baptist thought of baptism. It was important and it was an indicator of Jesus’ arrival, however it was secondary to Jesus.
John says, yes I baptize with water, but you should be looking for the one among you who, the one you know not.
Baptism wasn’t the point, it was merely a sign pointing to Jesus.
Later on, in John’s testimony about Jesus he would say that he was looking for Jesus but hand’t yet seen him…
31 And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water.
Baptism was John’s way or manner of bringing people to look for Jesus, bringing people to testify hope in Jesus.
Baptism is like a wedding ring.
It is a visible manifestation of what isn’t seen.
The location was the wild, the manner was baptism, and the substance was Jesus is the lamb of God.
The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.
In the temple that the priests had come from, priests would offer sacrifices for sin, typically lambs.
These lambs would take the punishment for sin. There had to be some payment for sin.
These lambs would stand in as a substitute….
The man of the house would place his hand on the head of the lamb and pray a prayer of confession- it was the tangible way the sins of the house would be placed upon the head of the lamb…
This would happen again and again, year after year, for family after family…
Jesus is the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
John tells us how this is possible,
Jesus is the cosmic substitution for all mankind because He was God living among mankind.
32And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him.
33And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.
34And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.
In this moment John interacts and tells us of all 3 persons of the Godhead.
God the Father tells him he will know God the Son when he see God the Holy Spirit descend upon Him in the form of a dove.
And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
15John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me.
16And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.
Because Jesus is so great, there is grace upon grace for us.
Man speeding through Montana.
2 dogs in the back of the old station wagon
2 kids in the back seat
Between the 2 kids a car seat with an 18 month old
In the passenger seat his wife who was 7 months pregnant.
Man said by the time the officer got to me with his flashlight, he didn’t ask for my license he just said, you clearly can’t afford a ticket son. Please slow down….
God looked at us and saw that we clearly couldn’t pay for our sin, so He sent His son to take the penalty for us…