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Saturday, December 7, 2013

John the Baptist – Part 3

        John the Baptist did not reject Jesus as some did. Instead John bore witness to Jesus. John the Baptist was the bridge between the old and the new. He would point people to Jesus whose shed blood would pass between the Older Testament and the New drawing them together as one in Him. John was sent of God to call sinners to repentance. This wasn't anything new. The prophets throughout the Older Testament did this. The newness of John the Baptist's mission was that he would point people away from him, who represented the Law, to Jesus. John the Baptist made it clear that Jesus is superior to him because He existed before the creation of the world. He is God..
        John the Baptist was sent of God to witness of the Light and the Lamb of God – Jesus. “There came a man who was sent from God, his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light, he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.” John 1:6-9 John the Baptist witnessed that Jesus is the Light who came into the world to bring spiritual life, and the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Jesus is the fullness of the light and glory of God, of which every other light is a copy. Some of the Jews of Jesus' day were content with the copy. But God wants all to come to the fullness of Light in Jesus Christ.
         As John the Baptist came out of the wilderness when the people of God were in moral decay and darkness, believers in Jesus are to be His witnesses in the midst of the moral decay and darkness of the world. (see Luke 24:48) Our job is to reflect the Light and love of Jesus so all of humanity might believe in Him. In other words, as Jesus is a Light-bearer, we are to be His light-bearers.

Proverbs tells us that there are true and false witnesses.
  • A faithful witness will not lie. Proverbs 14:5
  • A true witness saves souls. Proverbs 14:25
         Jesus said that John the Baptist witnessed to the Truth--Jesus. (John 5:33) He went on to say that John the Baptist was a “lamp that burned and gave light, and you chose for a time to enjoy his light.” v35  Some enjoyed John the Baptist's light for a time but John the Baptist was not the full light. He was a witness to the full Light Jesus. Revelation 1:5 says that Christ is the Faithful Witness. God had sent a witness – John the Baptist – into the spiritual and moral decay of Israel to witness of the Light, Love, Lamb. Savior and King Jesus so they could be saved from decay and destruction, but they rejected the Truth. Again, God is showing His love and grace to Israel and mankind. Satan wants to keep people in the dark, but God wants to draw them to the Light of His Son. Jesus said that the Pharisees and the Sadducees were blind leaders of the blind. In other words, they were all spiritually blind to the Truth because they rejected the Truth/Jesus.
         Followers of Christ are to take the same position that John the Baptist took – be witnesses of Christ. John the Baptist was so committed to his purpose in revealing Christ that he ultimately laid down his life for Him. He was beheaded by Herod. In Biblical times, to cut off someone's head meant that their authority was cut off. The head of a leader was also a trophy of victory over an enemy. John the Baptist who was righteous suffered the same fate Jesus did in His flesh--death.
       John the Baptist wanted to exalt Christ, not himself. In Matthew 11:11-13, Jesus said of John the Baptist, “I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it. For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John.” What commendation from the Master and yet John the Baptist humbly exalted Christ. John the Baptist knew before all others that Jesus was the Christ, the Pre=existent One, to whom all the Law and the Prophets pointed. John knew this in the womb of his mother Elizabeth when he leaped for joy when Mary entered his mother's house with Jesus in her womb. John the Baptist was well aware that Jesus was not just a man. He knew that He is God. Their connection began while they were in their mothers' wombs.
         There were other witnesses of Jesus in the Gospel of John after John the Baptist: 
  • Jesus' works witnessed of Him John 5:36  
  • The Father witnessed of Him John 8:1   
  • Jesus witnessed of Himself John 8:1  
  • The scriptures witnessed of Him John 5:39
  • The Holy Spirit witnessed of Him John 15:26-27
  • His disciples witnessed of Him John 15:27
  • The multitudes witnessed of Him John 12:17
        The Jews in Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to John the Baptist to question him about his identity. Priests were only qualified to serve in this capacity through descent. If they did not descend from Aaron, they could not be a priest. One of the jobs of the Sanhedrin Council was to deal with false prophets and priests. The religious leaders wanted these priests and Levites to find out under what authority John the Baptist was saying the things he was saying about Christ.

John the Baptist revealed to these priests and Levites what he was not.:
  1. I am not the Christ.” John 1:20 John wanted to make that clear right off the bat!
  2. Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” The Jews expected Elijah to come before the Messiah because of Malachi's prophesy. “See I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes.” Malachi 4:6 Jesus said that John the Baptist fulfilled this prophecy. Matthew 11:14-15: “If you are willing to accept it, he (John the Baptist) is the Elijah who was to come. He who has ears, let him hear.” John the Baptist came in the Spirit and power of Elijah – the power of the Holy Spirit. (see Luke 1:17) Elijah did eventually come in his spiritual body along with Moses to the Mount of Transfiguration with Jesus. (see Matthew 17:1-4)   Moses and Elijah faded out of the picture leaving only Jesus indicating that their ministries pointed to Jesus. Moses represented the Law and Elijah the prophets that pointed to Christ. Jesus alone is worthy of all honor, glory and praise. The Law and the Prophets were temporary, but Jesus is Eternal.
  3. Are you the prophet? He answered, “No” v 21 This is the prophet that Moses spoke oft in Deuteronomy 18:15. “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to Him.” God further said to Moses, “What they say is good, I will raise up for then a prophet like you from among their brothers; I will put My words in His mouth, and He will tell then everything I command Him. If anyone does not listen to My words that the Prophet speaks in My Name, I myself will call him to account."   Jesus is this Prophet, not John the Baptist. Jesus spoke only what the Father told Him to speak and did only what the Father told Him to do.
         Finally, these priests asked John the Baptist, “Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” John 1:22
       John responded with the words of Isaiah, the prophet: “I am the voice of one calling in the desert, 'Make straight the way for the Lord.'” Isaiah 40:3 When the Older Testament scriptures are quoted in the New Testament, it is to illustrate that this particular scripture was being fulfilled in the seeing and hearing of those present. John the Baptist had come out of the wilderness (desert) as this voice that Isaiah had prophesied hundreds of years before. John the Baptist was not the Word of God; he was just a voice who would prepare the way for the Eternal Word of God – Jesus. As John the Baptist who represents the Law and the Prophets, pointed people to Jesus, this was also the purpose of all of the Older Testament scriptures. John the Baptist said he was only a voice, but there is One greater than him.
        Every apostle, prophet, teacher, pastor and evangelist should be those who point people to Christ. They should not bring people back to the Law. God does not go backwards. He is moving forward with His plan of redemption and restoration of the heavens and the earth. Once the reality of the Law and the Prophets came, we are no longer under the authority of the Law and Prophets of the Older Testament but are under the authority of Jesus. The voice of God in the burning bush and on Mount Sinai is Jesus who gave Moses the Law. As I said previously, Jesus is the voice of God from the beginning and will be forever because He is the Eternal Word – the written and spoken Word of God brought to life. Jesus knew that eventually He would come in the flesh and fulfill all of the Law and the Prophets once-for-all. John the Baptist understood this.
        John the Baptist preached repentance for sin and baptized with water to prepare the way of the Lord. He called the people to confess their sins and repent. Then John cleansed them through baptizing making their way straight before the Lord. Sometimes God has to set us straight, so we walk in the narrow way of holiness before the Lord. In Psalm 5:8, David, a man after God's own heart, said, “Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness because of my enemies—make straight your way before me.” The straight way is the “high”way of holiness. David wanted to walk in the way of the Lord.
        In Biblical times, roads were just paths of dirt filled with stones and debris. When an earthly king or conqueror was coming, the servants would clear, smooth and straighten out the roads so they were fit for the king. The Holy Spirit wants to make our ways straight by cleaning out the debris and stones in our hearts before the coming of King Jesus. John the Baptist had made a straight path for Jesus by calling for repentance and baptizing the people. After Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordan, He came straight up out of the water. Jesus' way was straight because He is holy. Jesus told His disciples that they must walk in the straight and narrow way of holiness. Matthew 7:13-14: “Enter through the strait gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and strait the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Those who enter through the humble gate of true repentance, deny themselves to follow Jesus, earnestly seek His righteousness, and persevere in true faith, purity and love are the few not the many. It is through this faithful remnant that Jesus does His greatest work. Jesus didn't say that the road would be easy. He said that following Him means self-denial, growing in righteousness and love for all including our enemies. This is not the easy way; it is the narrow, straight way. Jesus said only few would find it.
        There was a woman who came to Jesus who was bent over for 18 years. (see Luke 13:10-13) She couldn't walk straight! She could only look down at the floor and the earth, not up. Jesus was teaching at a synagogue when this woman came in, so this woman was Jewish. Jesus called this woman to Him, and said, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” In other words, Jesus spoke His powerful, healing Word. By His powerful Word, the woman was set free. Then Jesus laid His hands on her and “immediately she straightened up and praised God.” Jesus' powerful Word and His touch healed her. She was now able to walk straight. She could now look up and praise God. Satan had kept this woman bound for 18 years, but the powerful Word and touch of Jesus set her free from Satan's bondage. Brothers and sisters, the Word of God is very important in Jesus' healing of peoples' souls and bodies. When the Word of God is spoken, we are speaking the very life of Jesus into another. It is a powerful weapon against the enemy who wants to keep us bound and burdened. Jesus illustrated the power of His Word time and time again in His short time on earth. He wants us to use His powerful Word also to defeat the devil and set people free from bondage, sickness and disease.

        John the Baptist was preparing the way for One greater than him. Believers in Christ are also to prepare the way of King Jesus when He comes again in great glory. Jesus is the Way, and His highway is the “high” way of holiness.  
           May we all desire to walk in the straight and narrow way of the Lord in preparation of His coming again.  May our eyes look up to Our Lord and Savior and not down to earthly things and ways.  May we store up treasures in heaven as we go about doing His wonderful work to the glory of His Name.  Amen and amen.

                                                                          Blessing and love in Christ,


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