Sermon – September 16, 2018
John 1:19-34 – The Example of the Baptist (mp3)
As we learn, it is especially important to have examples. Watching others do things often makes them much easier to do ourselves. Evangelism is no different. So why not learn from one of the best when it comes to pointing people to Christ? John the Baptist was sent from God for this very purpose, and the witness of the Scripture is that he did it well. Today, we will attempt to learn from John’s early run-in with some in authority in Judaism, and attempt to learn how we might more effectively share Jesus with those around us.
1. Don’t fret your humility
Not many of us are in positions of great authority, nor do we have millions of admiring followers, nor much of an opportunity to gain such things. We can easily get distracted when thinking of the greats of the past, and how they must have viewed themselves. But John the Baptist was ever humble; while Jesus freely poured praise over him, he casually deflected any praise or thought of his own greatness. He was content to simply be the man whose voice made a highway pointing directly to Christ. Oddly, and against all expectations, this was what made him great. Friend, do not despise the humility of your surroundings. Instead, use that humility to serve your God by glorifying Christ in your everyday life.
2. Don’t focus on your identity
As the Pharisees approached John, they wanted to know who he was; when his humility denied all claims to authority, they desired to know what authorized him to baptize for repentance. John seems dumbstruck. “I baptize with water” seems an incredulous statement – as though John is simply asking “is this really what you are interested in? I just told you that I’m here to show you the coming Messiah, who I am not worthy of doing the most menial task for, and you are worried about me baptizing some folks?” We can easily get lost speaking about ourselves when we witness to others. Sometimes this is of our own doing, selfishly wanting to speak about ourselves, sometimes it is because we are answering accusations. Whatever it is, let us not forget that Jesus is greater than we are, and he is the real issue facing everyone. Press the point home: What will you do with this Jesus?
3. Don’t forget gospel clarity
The gospel is a massive project by God to change the disastrous results of the fall of mankind. Therefore, it touches every aspect of our lives: our views of politics, food, clothing, finances, music, education, etc. Yet, we have no time to speak of the fullness of God’s project in that manner. So, we need to learn how to get at the center, the foundation, of the gospel. John the Baptist does this well. He reminds us that the gospel revolves around God forgiving our sins in Christ, and doing so through the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. These are the core central issues that the gospel addresses: our wickedness and sin before a God whose just wrath hangs over us, and the gracious deliverance of us from both that wrath and our sins by the God-man Jesus Christ. This is indeed good news!