Notes from our most recent sermon are posted below each week.
Relating to God Defined:
November 1, 2020
Relating to God Defined: One Savior
I. There is one Savior, Jesus; 1:19-28.
19 Now this was John’s testimony when the Jews of Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. 20 He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, “I am not the Christ. ” 21 They asked him, “Then who are you? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” He answered, “No.” 22 Finally they said, “Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” 23 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.’ ” 24 Now some Pharisees who had been sent 25 questioned him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” 26 “I baptize with water,” John replied, “but among you stands one you do not know. 27 He is the one who comes after me, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.” 28 This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptizing.
John’s baptizing activity at the Jordan River attracted a great deal of attention, leading many people from Jerusalem and the surrounding regions to come out to him either to be baptized or to see what was happening. A delegation of priests and Levites, from the temple and its interests comes to John.
He openly denies that he is “the Christ.” “Christ” is a Greek translation of the Hebrew word for “Messiah.” If John were not the Messiah, maybe then he was Elijah. Because Elijah had been taken from the earth without dying, the Jews speculated that he would return prior to Christ. John was fulfilling the role of Elijah, as Luke explains: “He will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah” (Luke 1:17). John denies that he is Elijah who has returned to the earth.
“The Prophet” is a reference to Deuteronomy 18:15-19, where a prophet “like Moses” would return to Israel sometime in the future. Most Jews understood that he would be a forerunner to the Christ. John also denies being the prophet. Following his denials John identifies who he is, “a voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord, ‘” quoting Isaiah 40:3.
Since John does not claim to be either the Messiah or a messianic person, why does he baptize? Baptism was the rite for converts from other religions. Males of the family were circumcised, and everyone was baptized. This was the ceremonial removal of all the pollutions contracted in the Gentile world. The novelty and the irritation in John’s baptisms were that he applied to Jews what was for Gentiles. But the people know they weren’t right with God no matter what they were told by their leaders. So, they come in droves to John for baptism of repentance and hope.
John does not regard his baptism as an end in itself. Its purpose is to point people to Christ. So, he proceeds to tell his questioners that the Great One stands among them, though they do not know Him. He was not worthy to loosen the thongs of the great one’s sandals. John says he is unworthy even to do the work of a servant for this One who is coming.
In many ways we are like John, the forerunner of Jesus being someone’s savior. Don’t point them to us – how we handle life, our priorities, what we have done, our views and perspectives, but to Jesus. There is one Savior. We are not the savior of people. We are not the judge of people. But we are to point people to the One who is the Savior and Judge. The Great One is still among us, but He is still not recognized by many. Their eyes are glazed over with self-interest, all the time thinking they are seeing clearly, but are blind.
II. We’re to direct people to Jesus; 1:29-34.
29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32 Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. 33 I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God.”
John now identifies him. Jesus is “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” As a lamb He becomes a sacrifice like the Passover lamb, but a once and for all sacrifice. John describes Jesus as one who has surpassed him because He was before him. The importance of Jesus is who he is. John did not know Jesus to be the Messiah, who would baptize with the Holy Spirit, until he saw the sign at Jesus’ baptism.
The final testimony given by John the Baptist is, “I have seen, and l testify that this is the Son of God.” In humility he has deflected glory and interest away from himself and drawn attention to Jesus, describing powerfully who He is and what He will do.
This story provides four confessions concerning Jesus: (1) He is the Lamb who removes the sin of the world as confirmed on the cross; (2) He is the one who is able to accomplish this divine task, because He is the preexistent one; (3) He is the one who brings salvation as witnessed by His baptizing with the Holy Spirit; and (4) He is the one who, as the Son of God, has truly embodied God since He is the unique one from the Father.
We can say along with John, “I have seen, and I testify this is the Son of God.” Is your life all about the exaltation of Jesus or you?