Date Written: August 20, 2010
Date Preached: August 22, 2010
Church: OPBC (AM)
Series: Recognizing and Responding to the Living Word
Title: Serving With Humility (2nd String)
Text: John 1:19-32
ETS: John the Baptist realized who he was and he was not afraid to lose himself in his service to God because he was willing to search out God’s plan for his life.
ESS: As Christians we have to realize who we are and not be afraid to lose ourselves in service to God because we must be willing to seek out and search for God’s will in our lives…at all times!
I believe I’m not alone in that feeling, you see it’s a human trait to NOT want to be
2nd string in anything! I can think of NO ONE who wanted to be on the B-team, and human nature teaches us that there are not any people who like playing 2nd fiddle!
I mean think about it… Vice-Presidents desire to become the President. Backup QBs dream about when they can lead their team into battle! It is our nature to want to be OUT front, leading the way!
In Winter Park, MN there are 2 men today who are frustrated and possibly a bit upset! You see until just recently Tavaris Jackson, Sean Rosenfeld were battling for the starting QB position for the MN Vikings. There were fighting for who would be 1st string… until one day this week when HE showed up!
These men were looking forward to playing on the 1st string and leading their team, but then HE came… and everything changed for these 2 men! They would NO longer be considered for the starting position… they were now only seen as the backups… as 2nd string… 2nd fiddle! Brett Favre was back in town and HE was going to become the starter… He was going to be the leader…
Now I can feel for these men… working hard, striving toward a goal, and then all of a sudden… everything is different!
Now, I am NOT naïve, I know that there are some people in this world that do NOT want the spotlight and who actually LIKE living out the backup role. They actually enjoy being in the role of 2nd string… but these men do NOT… these men WANTED to lead…both of these men have led NFL teams in the past and believe that they CAN lead this NFL team…
Now it is a very difficult thing for the human mind to deal with the concept of being 2nd fiddle in ANYTHING! Especially when you have been 1st chair before! Especially when you have those around you saying that you should be #1!
These 2 men in MN have a lot in common with the person who is the focus of our passage of Scripture this morning. John the Baptist knows about being out front and then having One come in and take the spotlight!
Now I understand that there are some differences in these 2 situations, but there are great similarities as well. But the most glaring similarity is that BOTH knew that there was ONE who was coming!
These 2 men in MN knew that Brett Favre was hovering around out there, threatening retirement, but leaving his options open for returning for a 20th NFL season! And as much as anyone knows Brett Favre… we all knew in our hearts that he was NOT going to retire!
I believe these men knew this too… and I truly believe that even tho’ they may have HOPED for a starting role, both of these men KNEW what their ultimate role on this team was going to be…
Now John KNEW Jesus was out there, even though no one else knew about Him. John knew He was coming. We see John the Baptist understood what his role in life was… He KNEW from birth that he would NEVER be anything other than one who was called to set the table for Jesus. John knew where God had him in His plan!
Now I am sure that there were MANY people around John, mainly his disciples, who did not see things that way! I am sure that they believed that John should see himself as being the 1st team! They wanted John to be the leader… the One people looked to… After all it was John that all these crowds were coming out into the wilderness to see and hear! He was simply THE best preacher in the entire country!
But now there was ANOTHER who had come along… a man named Jesus! I am SURE that John’s disciples had these feelings of desire to keep John #1 in the eyes of the people… but I wonder if John ever had those feelings about this situation?
Do you think that John was disappointed or frustrated about things? Have you ever wondered what John felt about when he stepped aside and directed his disciples to follow Jesus?
I know I cannot see into the hearts of others, but I truly believe that John the Baptist knew and understood exactly what he was doing and that this was what God desired… I believe that John was simply being obedient! I believe that is one reason Jesus said, “…among those born of women none is greater than John…”
John could have gone on and tried to be the #1 guy! He could have insisted that he was the focus and this man called Jesus was not… He COULD have done that, but that is what is so wonderful about this story… John the Baptist KNEW that Jesus was the focus from God, and not him!
John understood how to be 2nd String…he knew how to play 2nd fiddle and he knew how to do it very well. But how did John do it? What do you suppose was his secret in dealing with being the 2nd string?
Well in looking at Scripture I find that there are a three actions that John took… and I see them as 3 actions that WE must take if we are going to play 2nd fiddle in the way John the Baptist did, and that was to be the humble and obedient servant God desired John the Baptist to be!
YOU MUST KNOW YOURSELF AND YOUR ROLE – v.23:
The 1st action that I see John revealing to us is that he knew who he was… he knew and understood his role in the Kingdom. So if you are going to serve God, you must FIRST know who you are!
John knew he was NOT the Messiah, that he was NOT the focus of God’s plan. I am sure that there were many who came to John and encouraged him that he was the Messiah! After all he was the most listened to man in the Kingdom and people flocked to see him… Many asked him if he was the Christ…if he was the Anointed One…if he was the Messiah.
But we find that even though his popularity was great and that his ministry was successful… John’s answer was a very humble, “No.” When he told these people that he was NOT the Messiah, they would then ask, “Well WHO are you?” which is not an easy question to answer. The Greek philosopher Socrates suggested that the key to wisdom is to ‘know yourself!’
When we dissect this passage, we find the answer from John is our first clue to HOW he was able to play 2nd fiddle and HOW he was able to be comfortable with that position in the kingdom! John said this, “…I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness…” John 1:23 [ESV]
Now I don’t know about you but John’s answer to the question of “Who are you?” really fascinates me! Here he was with all best abilities to speak to a crowd, with the largest following in the country, and yet with all his success we find that he had an amazing sense of his calling from God! John is basically saying, “I am merely a voice…”
John is NOT saying, I am the man, I am THE preacher, I am a great evangelist, I am THE prophet… People come to see ME… NO John does NOT say these things, John simply says, “…I am just a ‘voice.’”
We all know that John had lived a very strong and independent life up to this point. He had lived in the most rugged conditions of the wilderness, eating honey and locusts for food…
We all know that he had preached with a great fury…fearlessly calling all of Israel to repent of their sinful ways! Many tried to shut him up but John was unflappable, as he would cower to NO ONE! We read that even Herod’s [the governor of Galilee] brother Phillip tried to scare him into silence, but John continued his ministry!
John drew HUGE crowds to hear him… here he was, this wild looking and unkempt man from the wilderness who preached repentance, and called for those who repented to be baptized!
But what we see when Jesus comes onto the scene is that even with ALL his popularity and momentum… John knew WHO he was… John knew his place… John knew his purpose – John knew that he was merely a voice preparing the way for the Lamb of God. So for John, there was NO greater duty or job for his life than to play 2nd fiddle to Jesus Christ! John knew why he was alive…he knew WHO he was!
This example we have from John the Baptist is one that is played out in the life of Jesus Christ as well. Jesus being the 1st string…even knew HIS place in the plan of God! Jesus was willing to lay down His life for all of humanity. Jesus did NOT have to do what He did, but humbled Himself to the point of death… even death on a cross for OUR sake… in obedience to the Father…
Jesus and John KNEW their role, and knew their place in the plan of God. So for us to be able to be the most effective Christian that God desires us to be…we must also realize who we are and where we fit in!
We must be willing to submit to the Holy Spirit and His leading… we must be willing to say God YOU are 1st in my life and I am 2nd fiddle! We have to be willing to get up out of the pilot seat of our life and step aside and surrender to God’s leadership in our lives! If God is your co-pilot, you need to switch seats with Him!
John was able to submit to being 2nd fiddle by knowing who he was, but there is another action we can see from John that WE too must learn if we are to be the obedient and submissive servants God desires… John understood that he also had to be willing to lose himself.
YOU MUST BE WILLING TO LOSE YOURSELF – v.27:
Let’s look at what John said in v. 27:
“…even He who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie..."
John would later say that Jesus must increase and that he must decrease (3:30) John had the obedient and submissive heart that was willing to lose himself in Jesus Christ.
Later in Jesus’ ministry Jesus said this… John 12:24-26 [ESV]
24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.
The TRUE to greatness in the kingdom of God lies in losing yourself in service to Him! John understood this and knew that he had to LOSE himself… and in losing himself, he was serving God! He knew that if he gave himself up for Jesus Christ that God would lift him up!
In losing his life, John found it. Every Christian knows about John the Baptist…but that is only because he gave the proper credit and honor to Jesus Christ. It is only because he gave up his spot in the public eye so that Jesus could become better known.
Without Jesus, John the Baptist would be an obscure and eccentric prophet buried deep in the history of Israel. But because John was willing to lose Himself to exalt Jesus… God has honored John’s obedience… if you will truly honor God, He is going to honor you!
I want us to consider just what Jesus said about this man we call John the Baptist. Luke 7:24-28 [ESV]
24 When John’s messengers had gone, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: "What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? 25 What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who are dressed in splendid clothing and live in luxury are in kings’ courts. 26 What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 27 This is he of whom it is written, 'Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you.' 28 I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he."
Do you believe that it would it be worth everything to you to lose yourself in Chirst? What if in ‘losing yourself’ in Christ meant the loss of your life? John submitted FULLY to losing himself in Christ…
We know that Jesus also modeled His ministry around a theme of losing Himself in service to the Father. Jesus’ ministry was all about servanthood, and today we know that there is NOTHING that goes more against the grain than to be called a servant.
In our society today, people struggle with each other to find the key to the next level, the next promotion, the next position, the next “honor”… they want to be ON TOP… out in front… to be the leader…
In our society today, that feeling is so strong that many are willing to put their foot on the neck of someone else if it will get them ahead in any way! BUT… Jesus taught His disciples that they must NOT engage in this kind of behavior. Jesus told them that you will find JOY in service, not from being on top…you will find JOY in submission and obedience, not forcing yourself to be out front.
I know that there are MANY of you sitting out there this morning who MAY be thinking, “Preacher, you are crazy… I just can’t bring myself to ‘lose’ myself! I just cannot lose myself in SERVICE to anyone… I need to be validated, I need to be recognized… I need to know that I am important!”
You may think I am crazy for saying that there are those here who think that way, but even if they do not wish to admit it… there are many in the church today who think this way… and it is because they are UNWILLING to do what God has called them to do… either they feel it is beneath them OR they feel they are being taken advantage of…
As Christians we MUST realize and understand that we will always play 2nd fiddle to God and His will. We know that we could play 2nd string to Jesus, but we really struggle with playing 2nd fiddle in any area here in this world… like serving in the church!
Wherever God places is us… we must come to realize that is where we will find joy and contentment! Regardless of what the world may have to say… regardless of what we may think or want… God knows best and is going to bless and honor those who are obedient and submissive to His will.
However, we don’t just need to know ourselves and be willing to lose ourselves…the 3rd and final action I see John taking here is that He was able to find the grace to play 2nd fiddle because he was willing to look for God’s plan in what he was doing.
YOU MUST LOOK TO GODs PLAN-NOT YOUR OWN – v.29:
29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
John saw the plan of God and stepped aside to accommodate that plan! And like John we must ALWAYS be willing to see God’s plan and we must be willing to step aside in the things of our life to do the plan of God!
I have known many people who have served God faithfully through thick and thin times. Times when things were very rough and things went against them… and after yrs of service to God they look back at those times and realize that God had used those time to teach them things they would have NEVER known under any other circumstance.
God uses those times to make us better ministers and reflections of who He is. So many of us as Christians look back on the difficult times in our lives and we find that it was IN or DURING those tough times… where we were shaped and molded by God! We discover that it was during those difficult moments where we truly learned to trust in Him and become what He desired us to become…
John saw God’s plan and surrendered fully to it… and when we learn to surrender to God’s plan… when we can accept his plan as THE role for our lives, then we can be used… then we can be effective!
It doesn’t matter what God has us doing! It doesn’t matter where God has us doing it! It could be a leadership role, but it could also be a role where NO ONE ever knows or realizes what we are doing for God!
God may even give us a role that the world would reject and even scoff at us about! You may have people tell you that you are better than that and that God would NOT want you to ‘lower’ yourself to serve like that… You may even have people telling you that you should be #1 and tell you that is NOT where you belong…you belong out in front… not this … this is beneath you.
However, when believers come to the point where they are ready and willing to accept God’s role for their lives… they are going to find that they will become SO MUCH more effective in their service to God, and they are going to experience a much greater joy in knowing that they are in the middle of God’s will and plan!
THERE are no tasks in the Kingdom of God that are too trivial or too great for our faithful obedient service to our Savior! Many of us long to be the one who does that something GREAT for the Lord! But we don’t want to or we are not willing to do the mundane, everyday things NO ONE will notice for God…
If this is you, I am telling you here today, you are NOT alone… This feeling is human nature! As humans we are self centered and we desire to be MORE! Much of the time we want to be MORE than what God wants us to be! However, according to Jesus… if you want to be MORE than what you are… you must seek to know your role, accept your role and be willing to serve without question in your role within the Kingdom!
This is because God is not so much concerned about how ‘important’ we are or what we are doing is… but He IS concerned about our faithfulness and obedience to ANYTHING He wants us to do for Him.
One example is evangelism… God is NOT focused on the number of people you can lead to Christ! God does not see great numbers coming to Christ because of your witness as success… although it is success… God sees FIRST your obedience and God blesses that obedience!
If you want to be great in God’s kingdom, you must be willing to know your role, and be willing to LOSE yourself in service to Him! But you must also be willing see where God is working and go and join Him in His kingdom work!
We cannot do this on our own, but it is only by the grace of God and thru the power of the HS, that we CAN learn be what He wants us to be… and that is to play 2nd string to Him… to allow Him full priority in our lives!
It is then and only then are you going to begin to experience the promise of JOY in your life! It is then and only then will you be in harmony with those around you in church! It is then and only then can you serve as God desires!
Well this morning if you are here and you have already accepted Jesus Christ into your heart…you already have somewhat of an idea on just WHAT God desires from you! But you may NOT be giving to Christ what He is asking…this morning I call on all believers to come forward and give ALL of yourself to God…don’t hold anything back!
IF you are here this morning and you do NOT know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior…this message can speak to you as well. You see God has a plan for ALL of His creation. In 2 Pet 3:9 we read, “…but He is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance…”
Let me share with you just what that verse of Scripture means for you this morning! It carries with it some really good news! The good news is that God is a patient God. He is patient toward you. The Bible teaches us that we all deserve hell…it tells us that we are all sinners and do not deserve the grace of God, but what we DO deserve are the fires of hell.
However in John 3:16 we find that God loved the world so much that He sent His Son, Jesus to die for our sin so that we may receive forgiveness and have eternal life with the Father in heaven!
If you want this ‘eternal life’ that God has promised! If you want to have all your sins forgiven! You must surrender to Jesus! You must know who you are… a sinner before a holy God. You must know your role… you need to confess your sin and accept Christ as Savior! You must see and accept God’s plan for your life… you must submit to serving Him here in this life!
But preacher, …you just don’t know me… I am a really bad person! I’ve done some terrible things in my life, I can’t come to God until I clean up my life! Well, the Bible does NOT say get your life straight and THEN come to God!
It clearly states that to come to God we must come as we are… come as the sinners we are and that is because we cannot do ANYTHING to change who we are … only Jesus can change that!
There is NOTHING that we can DO to get better, we will only fail. When we fail we will sink deeper into our sin and then we try to get better again…and we fail again and sink even deeper! God has a better plan!
God’s plan is very simple. If you want to be part of God’s family all you have to do is accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior. HOW do I do that, preacher? You accept Christ as your Savior, by confessing your sin and believing in your heart that He is the Lord of your life… you surrender ALL of who you are to Jesus!
God’s plan does NOT include or need any help from you…all you need to do is reach out because God will not force Himself on anyone. As Steven comes to lead us in our Hymn of Invitation (#285 Wherever He Leads I’ll Go)
I urge you to come and surrender to Him today… allow Him to become 1st priority in your life this morning… I urge you to surrender to God’s will for your heart and life! Come this morning and give yourself to the Lord! Won’t you stand with me…