Sermon – November 18, 2018
John the Baptist’s disciples get in a conversation with a fellow Jew about a purification ritual – which turns their attention to Jesus’ actions in baptizing. They seem to be quite shocked that he is doing precisely what John was (quite literally) known for doing. But John’s answer is what we have come to expect from him: humble and Christ glorifying. Friends, Jesus is better, more important, and worthier of every good thing than you. Whether God puts you in palaces or in prisons, he does so for the sake of his only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Let us today examine John’s response, and see why the Baptist thinks that Jesus is better:
1. Jesus has been given the greater task
Each of us can only claim what has been given to us from heaven. John realizes that the lot he has been given by God is simply to be the fore-runner of Jesus. The task that Jesus has been set is the greater one, for he is better than John. We likewise have been called to be Jesus’ servants, for that is the lot given to us by God.
2. Jesus is witnessed to this way
The constant witness to the coming Christ, whether by John the Baptist or others, is that Jesus is better. Abraham longed to see his day, because Jesus was better. He was greater than the great David, who calls him Lord. The Bible’s witness is constant: Jesus is better.
3. Jesus is explained this way
The metaphors that the Bible constantly uses to describe Jesus imply that he is better, and the focus of all that happens around him. Here, as the bridegroom, Jesus is greater than all those around. John, simply the best-man, is there simply to make sure that all goes well. We similarly, are here to make sure that Jesus is happy with his bride. So we humble ourselves to serve one-another, for Jesus is worthy of a pure church.
4. Jesus is better by necessity
By necessity, we must decrease in our estimation of ourselves if we are to think much of Christ. Friend, you cannot think that Jesus is better and constantly serve yourself. You must decrease for him to increase.
5. Jesus has better bloodlines
We understand that all men are created equal. Yet, one man is better than all the rest for his true home is neither Nazareth nor Bethlehem, but heaven. Jesus’ true Father is the God of creation, the Almighty, and he is therefore better than all, and above all.
6. Jesus speaks authoritatively for God
All of the prophets only spoke what God gave them to speak. Yet, Jesus is able to speak freely, for he alone has been given the Spirit without measure. He speaks for God with all authority every time he speaks. No one is able to speak like this! Jesus can, for he is better.
7. Jesus has all of God’s love
We are finally loved by God, fully and totally, only when we are in the Son. Jesus has all of God’s love, that is why God has made him the heir to everything, and has given all things into his hands. If you would be loved by God, you must know and trust in his Son.
8. Jesus’ glory is your good
All of this is not to say that our good is ignored by God. Our good is in recognizing the importance and worthiness of Jesus. We call him Lord, so we obey. We trust that he is better, kinder, and worthy of all of our lives. So we are able to lay down our own desires for what he has called us to. Jesus is worthy of our lives, and in giving them to him, we get eternal life back. Giving Jesus the glory, honor, power, might, and praise he is due is for our good.