Summary: No # 3 in a series on the Gospel of John. John reveals Jesus as the Lamb of God who was promised, pictured, provided and is to be praised.
A Study of the Book of John
“That You May Believe”
Sermon # 3
“Jesus – The Lamb of God!”
We are introduced to John the Baptist as he was preaching in the wilderness. This gospel account does not tell us as the Synoptic gospels do, that he was preaching a message of repentance and baptism. Nor are we told that the people are flocking out of the cities and villages to hear him. The religious leaders are deeply concerned over two things. First, they are concerned that John is undermining their authority, And secondly, they are worried that John the Baptism may stir the crowds into some action that cause the Romans to call in the soldiers to intervene.
This text deals with two crucial questions, “Who John is and Who Jesus is!”
First, Who is this one called “John the Baptist?” (vv. 19-28)
At some point the religious leadership became so concerned that they sent a delegation to question John. Beginning in verse nineteen they attempt to determine who John by asking him a series of five questions. “Now this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?”
•Question One: Who are you? (vv. 19-20)
“…“Who are you?”(20) He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” Implied is the question, “Are you the Messiah?” They are asking and John is denying that he is “the anointed one” – the long awaited Messiah of Israel.
•Question Two: Are you Elijah? (v. 21a)
“And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” This is not quite as easy a question to answer as it appears. They are asking if he is the bodily return of Elijah. Yet, Jesus says of John that he does fulfill the spirit of Elijah return in (Matt 11:14) “great and dreadful day of the Lord” prophesied in Micah (4:5). John says, “I am not Elijah returned in bodily form.”
•Question Three: Are you “that” prophet?(v. 21b) “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.”
They asked John if he was the prophet spoken of in Deut. 18:15-19, a prophet like Moses who they thought would accompany the Messiah. John simply said, No!The delegation pressed him with possible options but he persistently answered them in the negative, He is not the Messiah, not Elijah, not the prophet.
•Question Four: Then who are you?
(vv. 22-23) “Then they said to him, “Who are
you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?” (23) He said: “I am ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
“Make straight the way of the Lord,” ’as the prophet Isaiah said.”
The religious delegation was not content to know who John was not. They wanted to know then who he was. But John’s purpose was never to talk about himself his job was to prepare the way for Jesus.
•Question Five: Why then are you baptizing? (vv. 25-26)
“And they asked him, saying, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” (26) John answered them, saying, “I baptize with water, but there stands One among you whom you do not know. (27) It is He who, coming after me, is preferred before me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose.”
John’s baptism is distressing to the Jewish leadership. Baptism is a well known practice in Judaism. It was a part of the process by which Gentile converts became a part of the Jewish religious system. What made John’s baptism distressing to the Jewish religious leaders was that it was not Gentiles who were being baptized but Jews. It was not Gentiles but Jewish who were being warned about their sins and their need for repentance. John was treating Jews as though they were lost sinners in need of salvation. The Jewish religious leaders were teaching that simply being Jewish and keeping the law was sufficient to save them. Yet John’s ministry and message, was that this was not so! It’s funny that people still are under the illusion that they do not need to repent, that somehow they are going to make it to heaven on their own goodness!
The delegation still wants to talk to John about himself and his ministry, but John’s ministry is all about magnifying Jesus.
Having dealt with Who John Is ….
Secondly, “Who Then Is Jesus?” (1:29-34)
“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! (30) This is He of whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me.’(31) I did not know Him; but that He should be revealed to Israel, therefore I came baptizing with water.” (32) And John bore witness, saying, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him. (33) I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ (34) And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.”