Summary: Sermon #2 in the John series. This sermon from John 2 and 3 focuses on John the Baptist’s testimony of Jesus and then Jesus’ testimony to John the Baptist.
John’s Gospel #2 Between Prison and the Platter
CHCC: January 13, 2008
John 2, 3
Now I know this is hard to believe, but I’m about to quote a little 4 year old who is NOT one of my grandkids. One day a mom asked her little girl what the picture she drew after Church was supposed to be. It looked like a bunch of brown scribbles and some kind of big green thing sticking up. The little girl said, “Well, this is the wilderness, and that’s John the Cactus.”
Today, we’re going to talk about John the Cactus. Dallas preached about John the Baptist a couple of weeks back, but there is plenty left to say. Here’s what Jesus had to say about him: I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist … Matthew 11:11
John himself was a miracle baby born to an elderly priest, Zechariah, and his wife Elizabeth. Elizabeth was Mary’s aunt --- and while both women were pregnant, Mary went to visit her Aunt. Here’s what happened. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Luke 1:41
1. John’s testimony about Jesus
John refers to John the Baptist several times in the first 3 chapters of His Gospel. Since both men are named John, it can get confusing. When I went on a mission trip to Russia several years back, one of the preachers there had earned the nickname J. the B. because of his unusual baptizing style. He would submerge the candidate back into the water three times so rapidly that they came up from the watter sputtering and looking disoriented (and perhaps with whiplash)
So I may use "J the B" to refer to John the Baptist just to avoid confusing him with John the apostle.
J the B lived in the desert of Judea; he wore camel-hair clothes (not the height of fashion even in the desert); he ate locusts swimming in wild honey; and he preached, “Repent! For the Kingdom of Heaven is near!” Needless to say, he was NOT your typical Priest. Priests wore pure, white linen … not animal hair coats. Priests ate Kosher, purified foods … not insects. The Religious leaders were very suspicious of J the B. They were angry that he was drawing big crowds out there in the wilderness. It probably didn’t help anything that his favorite nickname for the religious leaders was “brood of vipers.”
John 1 tells what J the B said about Himself when a group of priests and Levites asked him who he was. What they really wanted to know was, “Who gives you the authority to tell Jews they need to repent and be baptized” You see, water baptism was not unknown to them. But baptism was reserved for Gentiles who wanted to convert to Judaism. Jews were already God’s chosen people. What right did this barbarian preacher have to tell Jewish people that THEY needed to repent and be baptized?
John answered by quoting Isaiah 40:3 “"I am the voice of one calling in the desert, ’Make straight the way for the Lord.’ " John 1:26 Then he told them, "I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know. He is the one who comes after me, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie." John 1:26-27
The next day, John the Baptist saw Jesus nearby and he announced, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! John explained how he KNEW Jesus was the one. God had told him, ’The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God." John 1:29, 33-34
J the B … this outspoken, rough looking, homeless man … was the one God chose to introduce Jesus Christ to the world. As soon as John introduced him, Jesus started his ministry. And the crowds divided. Some stayed with J the B, and others went to Jesus. What would you predict would happen next? Exactly! Some of J the B’s followers got jealous because their followers were switching allegiance. They came to John and complained, "Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan—the one you testified about—well, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him." John 1:26
John’s reply shows why he deserved the high praise that Jesus gave him. He answered,
"A man can receive only what is given him from heaven. You yourselves can testify that I said, ’I am not the Christ but am sent ahead of him.’ The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice.