Summary: John the Baptist and all of God’s people have a mission to prepare the way.
John 1:19-34 “A Wilderness Shout”
There is a story of two Scandinavian pastors, Ole and Sven, who served congregations across the road from each other. They decided to put up a sign one day warning people that the end was near. The sign read, “Stop, The End is Near, Turn Around.” Shortly after they erected the sign, a motorist drove by shaking his fist, calling Ole and Sven religious nuts, and telling them in no uncertain terms where they should put the sign. Moments later there was the screech of tires and the sound of an irresistible force meeting an immovable object. In the silence that followed Ole turned to Sven and said, “Do you think we should change the sign to read, “Bridge Out”?
As followers of Jesus Christ, we have a calling to share the good news of Jesus Christ with those around us. This doesn’t mean that we have to tell everyone that the end is near, or to remind them of what evil, sinful lives they are living. Rather it is to share God’s love and grace with them in word and deed and invite them to join us in walking with God.
This story of John, who came before Jesus to prepare the way, enlightens us as to how we might accomplish our calling.
POINT TO THE LORD
John had been baptizing in the Jordan River and had attracted quite a following. The religious leaders were always alert for possible rabble rousers. So, they sent an investigative team of priests and Levites to learn firsthand what John was doing.
I’m impressed by John’s response to the priests and Levites. He was a celebrity of the time attracting scores, if not hundreds or thousands of people.” He doesn’t brag. He doesn’t display the huge ego of a famous person. He first tells his inquirers who his is not. In verses 20 and 21 John denies that he is the Messiah, nor is he Elijah the prophet who has returned. He shares that he is simply a voice of one crying in the wilderness. John exemplifies what it means to “walk humbly before the Lord.” He turns attention from him and directs it to God.
This is a good lesson for us to put into practice in our everyday lives—to take the attention away from ourselves and direct it toward the Lord. I think we might be able to do this by using more “god talk” in our conversations. Now, I’m not suggesting that we trying to get the name of Jesus, or God in every sentence.
• When someone compliments us on the car we drive, the home we live in, or the latest piece of technology is ours, instead of saying, “Yeah, I worked hard for all that I have,” we might say, “Thanks, the Lord has richly blessed me.”
• Instead of giving honor to the Greek goddesses of Luck and Fate, we could acknowledge God’s loving and gracious movement in our lives.
• When others are complaining about how tough or unfair life is, we could express thankfulness and praise for the positive things in our lives, and for the fact that even in difficult times God is with us.
• We could smile instead of frown and have people wonder what we’ve been up to.
SEE JESUS WHERE OTHERS DON’T
John was walking along the path with his disciples, when he sees Jesus. John points to Jesus and declares, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” The others didn’t see Jesus as they walked down the road. They didn’t recognize that he was the Lamb of God, but John did. John saw what others didn’t see. Like John, our calling is to see Jesus where others don’t and point Jesus out to people.
We have a common saying, “Seeing is believing.” I think it is much more accurate to say, “Believing is seeing.” We see things from our personal perspective. Because we are followers of Jesus Christ, we see things through the eyes of faith.
• Instead of wondering why a loving God would allow such things as Super Storm Sandy, Hurricane Katrina, tornadoes or wildfires, we could celebrate how people of faith from around the nation (and sometimes the world) responded to help those affected by the disasters.
• We could focus on how God is moving in difficult times rather than fixate on the insurmountable obstacles that stand in our way.
• When appropriate we could share how God guided us, strengthened us, and gave us hope in the trials and tribulations through which we have journeyed.
• When the Vikings finally win the Superbowl we could proclaim, “It’s a miracle!”
BEAR WITNESS TO WHAT WE HAVE SEEN
Jesus invited his disciples to, “Come and See.” They didn’t need to take him simply at his word. Jesus encouraged them to “take him for a test drive,” and experience God’s love and grace.