Summary: The 4th sermon in our series on John's Gospel. In this sermon I discuss the ministry of John the Baptist.
A Voice, a Lamb, and a Dove (John pt. 4)
Text: John 1:19 – 34
Let’s go ahead and open our Bibles to the Gospel of John… And we’re going to be looking at verses 19 – 34 this morning. But before we get to it, let me just say this: This is talking about John the Baptist… Remember, John the Beloved is writing this, and he’s writing about John the Baptist. The reason we call John the Baptist, what we call him IS NOT because he was the originator of the Baptist Denomination. The word “Baptist” here is the Greek word, “baptistes” and it literally means “one who baptizes”, or “baptizer”. So if we were going to say it literally, we’d say, “John… the baptizer.” And like I said, the reason he’s given this title isn’t because he’s one who baptizes… other disciples did that as well… we don’t call Paul, Paul the baptizer, or Peter, Peter the Baptizer… but we call John this in order to distinguish him from the writer of this Gospel… There’s John the baptizer, and John the beloved. And the whole reason I’m even saying this is because I remember; about 27 years ago, listening to a conversation between an elderly Baptist woman and an elderly Lutheran woman. The Lutheran woman said that their denomination started with Martin Luther… and the Baptist woman, said that her… our denomination started with John the Baptist. Well needless to say, she was totally wrong.
So… for the record, the Baptist denomination began around 1616 when a pastor named Henry Jacob led a group of Puritans in England to form a congregational church and they called themselves “Particular Baptists.” They came to America in the late 1600’s… and dropped the “Particular” from their name… from that group several groups splintered off such as the Mennonites, and the 7th Day Baptists, who would later change their name to 7th Day Adventists… That was the early 1700’s. Then in the Mid 1800’s during the Civil War, the Baptists denomination split, and you had the Northern Baptists, and the Southern Baptists… that’s where we came from. The Northern Baptists would change their name to American Baptists, but we kept the name Southern Baptist. After the Civil War, there would be more splintering and more denominations created... over foolish issues and man centered things, that men (not God) felt were important. It's sad actually... So there’s the brief history of our denomination. So if anyone tries to tell you that we can trace our denominational lineage back to John the Baptist, you can set them straight.
Alright… let’s go to our text - (READ TEXT)
Now sometimes, John the Baptist gets a bad rap… it’s easy to imagine him as some wild-eyed, disheveled, crazy man walking around out in the desert. And I say it’s easy to imagine him like that, because of the descriptions we get of him from the Bible… we know he wore animal skins, he ate locusts and honey, and he did his ministry in the wilderness… the desolate places… the less than civilized places. But we can take a couple of things from that. First – man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart. We place too much value on outward appearance. You know; there are some pulpits that a pastor isn’t allowed to preach in unless he’s wearing a suit… can you imagine someone saying that to John? “Ok, so you’re Jesus’ cousin, and you’re the forerunner of Christ, and you want to give our congregation a message… where’s your suit? What? No suit? I’m sorry John, we can’t let you get up in-front of the congregation wearing animal skins.” We are so quick to judge people by what they look like and what they wear, but that’s not what God does. The second thing I think we can take from this, is that God’s calling of John to do ministry in the wilderness is just as important and just as valuable as God’s calling of Paul to go places like Ephesus, and Corinth, and Rome.
So John the Baptist’s ministry is incredibly important, and amazing, and valuable. #1 – Because God has called him to it… but also because he gets to point sinners to Christ. Just like He’s called all of us to.
So what I want all of you to go home with this afternoon is: Who’s pointing you to Christ, and whose pointing you away from Him?
That’s what John has been called to do… and it is interesting to me how John the Beloved shifts gears here. He started out from the perspective of heaven in eternity past. But now he brings it right down to earth… to the present time, and he starts telling us about John the Baptist, and just like a preacher would… he’s going to break this passage down into three points.