Summary: Who is the light? How are we, like John, not the light? What does light change?
Who is the light? How are we, like John, not the light? What does light change?
Purpose: Let’s learn to testify of the Light.
Plan: Let’s look at John 1:6-8, 19-28 and John the Baptist as a witness who gave testimony about the One.
John 1:6-7a Witness
In John 1:6-7a we read, “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light.” Who is that Light? Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” (John 8:12 ) and, “I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness.” (John 12:46) The Greek word for witness is µa?t???a? (martyrian), from which we get the English word martyr. It means someone who is a witness, who gives testimony or evidence.
John 1:7b Believe
In John 1:7b we read the reason for John the Baptist’s testimony, “that all through him might believe.” We may give witness to Christ for all kinds of personal agendas. Are we suspected of having money as a motive? Is someone on an ego trip as people follow them? Do we follow a personality cult, fawning over a favorite preacher? Are we driven by guilt or motivated to save our local church from dying? Are our hearts really in it? Are we downright mean and promote a self-righteous message? John had the right motive: that all might believe. What is our motive for spreading the good news of Jesus Christ?
John 1:8 He was NOT the Light
When John preached, he told people that “He was not that Light.” (John 1:8) Does it honor God when churches preach about their denomination instead of pointing people to Jesus? John set the right example. He testified about someone other than himself, the Light. Should we follow what Francis of Assisi reputedly said, “Preach Jesus, and if necessary use words?” Is Matthew 5:16 an excuse for charitable deeds without words? “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” John teaches us that charitable deeds necessarily includes using words of the good news, witnessing to Jesus.
John 1:19-20 John’s Testimony about Himself
What was the testimony of John the Baptist? We are told what it was in John 1:19-28. Can a confession be negative? I suppose so, when the first thing that John confessed was, “I am not the Christ.” Wow! In a world where politicians, ego maniacs and advertisers brag that they are the “anointed one,” God’s gift to the world, it is refreshing to hear from a humble man who points to another. In a world where several large denominations brag that they are the one true church because of authority or history or doctrine, it is refreshing to hear a man humbly say that he is not the One.
John 1:21-23 John’s Testimony about the Way
What was the testimony of John the Baptist? The thing that he testified about himself was, “I am ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Make straight the way of the Lord.’’” (John 1:23) People love egotistical titles. John simply called himself a voice. The message was more important to him than any self-exalting titles like successor to Elijah or the Prophet. Do we ever feel totally alone as Christians? Can we relate to John? Sometimes we must stand up and be a lone voice in the wilderness of a sinful world needing repentance. No other conviction but a call from God could overcome the loneliness on this mission.
John 1:24-28 John’s Testimony about the One
John testifies, “there stands One among you whom you do not know. It is He who, coming after me, is preferred before me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose.” Ironically, he was sent by God and was confronted by a delegation sent by religious leaders. We religious leaders can fall into the trap of promoting our agendas, our denominations instead of the One who is preferred before us. We religious leaders so easily fall into the trap of the priests and Levites, and oppose Christ as easily as they did. Apart from God’s grace, we are not worthy of the divine tasks to which we have been called.
Jesus is the light. We are not the light that John talked about, yet we are called to follow Jesus and be the light of the world, filled with good deeds and a good testimony about the One.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Boice, James Montgomery. The Gospel of John. BakerBooks. 1975.
Michaels, J. Ramsey. The Gospel of John. The New International Commentary on the New Testament. Eerdmans. 2010.