Summary: “Baptism truly points others to Jesus Christ who is the One who died and rose again for us.”
POINTING OTHERS TO JESUS CHRIST
Proposition: “Baptism truly points others to Jesus Christ who is the One who died and rose again for us.”
Objective: My purpose is to challenge people to look to Jesus Christ and be obedient to Him in one’s spiritual life.
Illus: A liberal scholar stated, “The account of Jesus’ Baptism is legend, certain though it is that the legend started from the historical fact of Jesus’ baptism by John. It was told in the interest not of biography, but of faith and it reports Jesus’ consecration as Messiah.” The baptism of Jesus is not simply a “faith-legend;” it is a historical fact.
Illus: “John the Baptist, as one has said, was content to be a signpost pointing the way to Jesus." John the Baptist’s life was fueled by one burning passion -- to point others to Jesus Christ and to the coming of his kingdom.
John the Baptist’s life and ministry pointed people to Jesus Christ. This was the mission of John as well his task of John to prepare the nation for the Messiah and then present the Messiah to them. As John 1:8 explains of John, “He was not that light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.” In our text, we see how John pointed people to Christ. It is significant that at the beginning of the passage, people are speculating about whether John himself might be the Christ. Even so, if we want to be used by God to point people to the Savior, we must fade from view and leave the person with Jesus alone, along with the divine testimony, “This is My beloved Son in whom I am well-pleased.” That God the Father is well-pleased with God the Son is at the foundation of the Gospel message we are to proclaim.
I. A BAPTISM OF ENABLEMENT POINTS PEOPLE TO JESUS CHRIST (for Power) (vvs. 15-16a) “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit”—The baptism of the Holy Spirit is the only means by which the redeemed sinner is united into the body of Christ and is the only means of identification with our redeeming Savior at the moment of salvation.
Illus: A good hunt dog is special, able to sniff out a covey’s location. A good hunt dog can point the way to the goal and indicate where we should be headed. John the Baptist was rather like that. He could point the way for those who wanted to know where God’s plan was going. He was “the one who goes before,” while Jesus is the stronger One to come.
1. The Messiah (v. 15a) “Now as the people were in expectation” “of the Messiah to come soon” (LB)—Messianic expectations were in the air. When John burst onto the scene, the people were excited. He was obviously a great prophet, and they were sure that the eagerly awaited age of the Messiah had come. Some, in fact, thought John himself was the Messiah. John spoke like the prophets of old, saying that the people must turn from their sin to God to avoid punishment and to experience His mercy and approval.
2. The Misunderstanding (v. 15b) “all reasoned…about John, whether he was the Christ or not”—The people begin to wonder. John wrought no miracles and was not in David’s line and yet he moved people so mightily that they began to suspect that he himself was the Messiah. The Sanhedrin will one day send a formal committee to ask him this direct question (John 1:19).
3. The Message (v. 16a) “John answered, saying”—He quickly denies it. John says, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30) John was quite sure that he himself was only the forerunner, not the Messiah. He was not sent to be a talk about himself, but to bear witness about Jesus, God’s Son. A good question is, “Am I pointing people to Jesus?”
Illus: During World War 2 about 500 American soldiers attended a performance of "Rigoletto" in a great Italian opera house. In the middle of a scene an air raid caused a power failure, leaving the opera house in darkness. One soldier pulled out his flashlight and pointed it toward the conductor. That wasn’t much light, but it helped. Within seconds 500 soldiers had their flashlights out and pointed toward the conductor. The whole stage was illumined. The conductor turned, bowed to the audience, and the opera began right where it has stopped. His role was simple and clear: to point others to the Jesus, the true light. Like that first soldier, he let his light pierce the darkness and point to the conductor.
4. The Manifestation (v. 16b) “I indeed baptize you with water”—While John baptized in water, the Messiah would baptize with both the Holy Spirit and fire. “I can only administer the outward baptism, but He will bring about the inward purifications and renewal.”