Summary: Jesus said there was no greater prophet in the Old Testament period than John. That’s an astounding statement. What made John so great? I want us to look at FOUR marks of greatness in John, so that we can make our lives great too.
GREAT IN THE SIGHT
OF THE LORD
A. HUMOR: HOW THEY GOT SAM TO CHURCH
1. The story is told of a small church where the small congregation had tried for years to get the biggest “sinner” in town, Sam, to come to church.
2. Sam the sinner would have nothing to do with the church. He wouldn’t even come on Easter or Christmas.
3. One day the small church building caught fire. Being the days before fire engines, the town’s folk all pitched in to for a bucket brigade.
4. From the local stream, all the way to the church, they formed a human chain. Passing along the buckets of water, they desperately tried to extinguish the flames.
5. The pastor of the church was so engrossed in the struggle, that is was several minutes before he noticed that Sam was standing next to him, passing along the buckets. 6. The pastor looked at Sam with sweat rolling down his brow and said “Well it look’s like we finally got you to come to church, huh Sam?”
7. Sam handed the pastor another bucket and said “Yep, I guess your right. But pastor, this is the first time the church has been on fire!”
“Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. 14 He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, 15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord.” Lk. 1:13-15.
“I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he” Luke 7:28
1. Jesus said there was no greater prophet in the Old Testament period than John. That’s an astounding statement when you think about such greats as Moses, Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah, Daniel, and Samuel!
2. What made John so great? I want us to look at FOUR marks of greatness in John, so that we can make our lives great too.
3. The title of this message is “Great in the Sight of the Lord.”
I. GREAT IN HIS VISION
A. RECOGNIZED THE TIMES
1. The Bible says that the men of King David's time, who assembled to make him king, were those “who understood the times and knew what Israel should do” 1 Chron. 12:32. This great complement applied to John the Baptist as well.
2. John the Baptist entered a world of great change.
a. The near-Eastern cultural tradition that had dominated for 3000 years, was giving way to the pagan Greek influences.
b. The Jews who returned from Babylonian captivity withstood the influence of the Persian, the Egyptian, and the Greek empires.
c. The Sadducees controlled the high priesthood and didn't accept the supernatural. The Pharisees controlled the synagogues, but became too legalistic and theological hair-splitters.
e. The Romans had begun to rule this area of the world and to maintain order. It was time for a great change.
3. Onto this stage came John the Baptist. He was a trailblazer, a spiritual pioneer. He had no prophetic model like Samuel or Elijah. No prophet had arisen for 400 years.
4. “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keeps the law, happy is he” Prov. 29:18. No man lives beyond his vision.
5. John the Baptist got a clear vision of what he was supposed to do to make things different. Many of us don’t have a clear vision of the purpose of our lives and so we don’t achieve the alteration we’re supposed to bring.
a. A Vietnam veteran who had been a pilot came back to the States and rejoined his family. He was listless, depressed, unmotivated. Problems developed in his home life. Finally, he went to see a counselor.
b. After visiting, the counselor summarized, "The problem is, you lack a vital center around which to arrange your life." Do YOU lack that vital center of Jesus’ kingdom?
a. A Polish man with poor eyesight decided to have his vision tested. An optician showed him a wall chart with the letters J A N U S Z N O S A C Z and asked him if he could read it.
b. “Sure I can read it,” the man replied, “In fact, I actually know that guy!”
B. KNEW HIS ROLE
1. Someone has defined greatness as "living your life for a cause greater than yourself." ARE YOU DOING THAT? This is one of the traits that made John the Baptist great.
2. His father Zechariah was one of the sons of Aaron who served as priest in the Temple. What a high calling! But John saw an even greater need; the people of Israel must be turned back to their God.