Summary: In order to be a witness you need to be out there where the people are; declaring to them the life you have found in Christ.
ENCOUNTERS WITH JESUS:
JOHN THE BAPTIST – WITNESS PAR EXCELLENCE
John 3:22 After this, Jesus and his disciples went out into the Judean countryside, where he spent some time with them, and baptized. 23 Now John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because there was plenty of water, and people were coming and being baptized. 24 (This was before John was put in prison.) 25 An argument developed between some of John’s disciples and a certain Jew over the matter of ceremonial washing. 26 They came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan—the one you testified about—look, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him.”
John 3:27 To this John replied, “A person can receive only what is given them from heaven. 28 You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah but am sent ahead of him.’ 29 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. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. 30 He must become greater; I must become less.”
“If you change the way you are looking at things – the things you are looking at will change.”
That’s a rather powerful principle and it has great potential when we apply it to our lives.
Say it with me … “IF YOU WILL CHANGE THE WAY YOU ARE LOOKING AT THINGS – THE THINGS YOU ARE LOOKING AT WILL CHANGE.”
I can think of so many applications for that, but I want to zero in on one today … one that is illustrated in the life of John the Baptist.
The New Testament tells us a lot of about John the Baptist:
➢ He was Jesus’ cousin – John’s mom and dad were Zechariah and Elizabeth, the aunt and uncle Mary stayed with during her pregnancy
➢ John lived a rugged austere life complete with unusual dress and diet
➢ John was not afraid to call out powerful people for their sin … it cost him his head.
But you know what … the Gospel of John does not tell us any of that.
The Apostle John does something peculiar with John the Baptist … he strips his of almost all details regarding his identity and actions, and reduces him to a flat character whose single role is to testify to Jesus. In John’s gospel he has one single role … a witness. But please understand this single trait is not a simple trait. We shall see that John is not a witness separate from his other roles; rather, he is a witness in these roles. John’s other roles of baptizer, herald and forerunner; teacher, best man and ‘lamp’ actually define his role as a witness. And let’s be even more clear – his role as a witness has one objective … its not to simply introduce people to Jesus … it is to elicit belief … that key word, that anticipated response, that we talked about last week which runs throughout John’s Gospel.
John 1:6-8 reads: “There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.”
This gospel never mentions the content of John’s teaching, except that it appears to be the content of his testimony (1:15, 19-36; 3:27-30). It includes the following assertions:
(i) Jesus is more important than John (1:15, 27, 30)
(ii) John is not a major eschatological figure (1:19-21; 3:28)
(iii) He is a prophetic voice announcing the coming of the Messiah and new exodus (1:23; 3:28)
(iv) Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (1:29, 36)
(v) Jesus is the Spirit-anointed Messiah (1:320)
(vi) Jesus is the Spirit-Baptizer while John merely baptizes with water (1:26. 33)
(vii) Jesus is the Son or Chosen One of God (1:34);
(viii) Jesus is the bridegroom while he is the best man (3:29)
(ix) Jesus must increase while he must decrease (3:30).
What I want you to understand today is that “witness” is an appropriate and common response that reveals genuine faith. Those characteristics not only describe John the Baptist, most of them should describe every Christ-follower.
Can you say that with me again? … “IF YOU WILL CHANGE THE WAY YOU ARE LOOKING AT THINGS – THE THINGS YOU ARE LOOKING AT WILL CHANGE.”
You see, John looked at people differently. He looked at people as if they were lost – in need of a savior – and in need of a witness. As a result, John’s life had a purpose and that purpose was realized over and over as people followed Jesus Christ.