Summary: John settled the fact that Jesus is number one.
I Am Second
Rev. Brian Bill
September 19-20, 2015
Prayer Transition: “Bless the Lord O my soul, worship His holy name”
Last week we camped in the very first verse of Mark’s manuscript and established the importance of being gospel-centric and mission-focused. We asked ourselves this question, “Are we more like a cruise ship or an aircraft carrier?” During the message I referred to our church as the U.S.S. Edgewood. That’s all Jim Sheese needed to hear as his photo-shop sense took over (actually, his wife Angela first alerted him to this idea). Here’s his latest creation [show pic of the crew of the U.S.S. Edgewood].
Our focus today is not on the Edgewood crew but on two individuals, John and Jesus. They were cousins and both had great birth stories, but they were certainly not equal. John MacArthur imagines the conversation that may have taken place when the moms got together. Mary says to Elizabeth, “How’s your boy? Elizabeth might respond, “Odd, really odd. You know, he’s lived his whole life apart from us, he lives out in the desert. How’s your boy?” To which Mary likely said, “You know, he’s perfect.” That’s kind of a conversation stopper.
John was all about being second to the Savior and loved to point others to put their faith in Jesus Christ, the perfect Son of God.
John the Baptist
We’ll look first at John the Baptist (he’s the first Baptist, just kidding) in verses 2-8 and then we’ll look at Jesus in verses 9-11.
Lets read Mark 1:2-8 together: “As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, ‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way, the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,’ John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey. And he preached, saying, ‘After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.’”
Becca and Megan, our youngest daughters, have heard me preach a lot of sermons over the years. I recently learned that they try to guess what my alliterated outline is going to be when the message starts. When we have lunch afterwards they often tease me about it. This week I made sure to show Becca three words that begin with the same letter that come right out of our text for today…I didn’t have to get creative on my own.
I underlined these words right from the passage…
• John the Preparer (2-3)
• John the Proclaimer (4-5)
• John the Preacher (6-8)
1. John the Preparer. John’s first job was to prepare the way for Jesus. Mark tells us in verse 2 that Isaiah predicted exactly what John would do. The phrase, “It is written” is in the present tense, indicating a continuous result. What follows is a composite quotation from Malachi 3:1 and Isaiah 40:3: “Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way, the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.’”
John is God’s messenger, sent to come “before your face,” which literally means “presence, in front of your eyes.” Even though John ministered in the wilderness, he was highly visible to many people. His message was also very audible. We could translate it like this: “Lo! A voice exclaiming…”
Twice we read that he came to “prepare the way of the Lord.” In ancient times when a king would travel somewhere, his advance team would go on ahead to make sure the roads were passable. Preparing the way meant to level out the roads and to reduce twists and turns. They functioned much like civil engineers, fixing highways and even constructing bridges so the king would have no delays when he came to town.
The other day I was out on a long run. As I was gasping for breath I noticed an older woman ahead of me looking at the ground. When I got closer I saw her bend down and pick up a nail from the road. She was keeping the road clear and removing something that could cause a flat tire. While I was oblivious she was keeping the way clean and clear. John the Baptist was like that. He didn’t want anyone to have a blowout and have to pull over. He didn’t want anything in the way of the One who is the way, the truth and the life.