The Word and His Witness
Pastor Nick Scarpa
Illustration: Norman Cates shared the humorous story of a guy who prayed this prayer every morning: "Lord, if you want me to witness to someone today, please give me a sign to show me who it is."
One day he found himself on a bus when a big, burly man sat next to him. The bus was nearly empty but this guy sat next to our praying friend. The timid Christian anxiously waited for his stop so he could exit the bus.
But before he could get very nervous about the man next to him, the big guy burst into tears and began to weep. He then cried out with a loud voice, "I need to be saved. I’m a lost sinner and I need the Lord. Won’t somebody tell me how to be saved?"
He turned to the Christian and pleaded, "Can you show me how to be saved?" The believer immediately bowed his head and prayed, "Lord, is this a sign?"
Throughout history we have seen or heard of great events, but none is greater than the miracle of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ.
Each event or occurrence requires those who were witnesses, who then would tell or write of what they saw or heard.
John the Baptist was a witness called of God to prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah. We read his testimony this morning as recorded by the Apostle John in his gospel account.
OPEN YOUR BIBLES TO JOHN 1
Review: Over the past few weeks we have learned the following from John.
His light shines through us…and into the lives of others
He was full of grace and truth
Let’s begin reading in V:19
The name Christ comes from the Greek “christos”, which translated from the Hebrew would be Messiah or “the anointed”. John the Baptist disclaimed the title when asked.
V:21 Are you Elijah?
Why do you suppose they would ask him that question?
Would it be his appearance? He wore camel skin – he ate locusts and wild honey! Yummy!!
Actually it had more to do with prophecy, as we briefly mentioned the last time.
The Jews (the Sanhedrin, other leaders) expected John to be Elijah because of the prophecy Malachi left us with some 400 years before.
“See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes.”(Mal.4:5)
V:21b Are you the Prophet?
This question may leave us wondering who the prophet was that they asked him about. It is still debated today.
Some think they were referring to the Prophet mentioned in Deut. 18:15 when Moses told them;
“The Lord will raise up for you a prophet like me, from among your own brothers.”
Others think they were referring to the Prophet Jeremiah.
The identity of the Prophet is not clear – We do not know who the Prophet is!
But John tells them, it is not him!
Finally, possibly exasperated or frustrated they ask him in V:22, Who are you!
John responds in v:23: (READ)
John’s purpose was clear; He was to make straight paths for the Lord!
The words of Isaiah 40:3 speak to John’s ministry. He was that voice!
It is similar to that of preparing the way for the visit of a great King or a member of royalty. Then again, isn’t that who Jesus is? Yes, and more! He is the King of ALL Kings, over all royalty that exists!
John’s ministry prepared the hearts of his followers for the ministry of Jesus Christ.
The Pharisees represent the strict interpreters of the Law, and were very interested any new religious teachers of Judaism. They want to know why John is baptizing if he is not Elijah, the Prophet or the Messiah.
His response is in verse 26:
What was the meaning of “I baptize with water”?
John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance! It was intended to “prepare people” for the coming of the Messiah; In other words, to turn their hearts away from sin and to Jesus Christ.
John took his reference of untying the sandals of his successor, from the practice of using the lowest slave of the household to remove the sandals and wash the feet of guests.
John’s witness therefore, reflected the exalted nature of Jesus and placed Christ far above himself.
V:28 tells us that this all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan where John was baptizing.
Now you may be asking, what does it mean to me?
John was a faithful witness, telling people about the Messiah.
You and I are called to be witnesses as well.
Are we like the squeamish Christian on the bus, looking to escape the person God put in our path, or are we faithfully proclaiming God’s love, grace and mercy to a lost world?
It’s as simple as telling others: I was_________ but God ____________!
Friends, let us be faithful witnesses also!
"Heavenly Father, as we read the words of John's gospel and the testimony of John the Baptist, we learn more about your Son, his life and ministry. Thank you for sending him on our behalf. Help us to be his witnesses to tell others about what He has done for us. I pray it in Jesus name, Amen."
Pastor Nick Scarpa
Follow me on Twitter @pastornick13