Posted in Gospel of John, sermons, Uncategorized

John Chapter 1 cont.: The Lamb of God

I don’t generally post my written manuscripts, for several reasons:

  1. I don’t prepare them to be read by anyone else. They are not properly annotated.
  2. My grammar is generally written in oral style – my oral style (small town southernese)
  3. The preached sermon is never the same.

That being said the “sound man” failed to get the recording this week.  And I want to keep the series intact.  so here is the manuscript:


Last week we talked about Jesus as the Eternal Word of God, co-deity with the Father at creation (acknowledging that the full Trinity would come into clear display as we traversed the Gospel of John).   And I talked about how right out the gates we see the budding exchange between Jesus and the establishment.  That theme is further emphasized as we close out Chapter 1 this week with a lesson about John the Baptist.

Let’s get right into the Word starting at John 1:19 this morning:

19 Now this was John’s testimony when the Jews of Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was.

 20 He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, “I am not the Christ 21 They asked him, “Then who are you? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” He answered, “No.”

 22 Finally they said, “Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?”

 23 John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.'” {23 Isaiah 40:3}


Now let’s start out where we left off last week.  Lots of headlines these days about the establishment.   In our country, the establishment is largely made up of a secular bureaucratic group of politicians and government employees who work as much for sustaining their jobs as they do for sustaining the necessary functions of our government.  That sounds harsh but it’s historically normal.  Bureaucracy is needed to get things done but people protect their jobs and throughout history we’ve had this problem of balancing the need for a bureaucracy with the needs of sustaining it.  Like it or not that is the truth.  As government employees begin to grow in number they begin also to flex their muscles politically.

Nowhere can this be seen more clearly than in Virginia, for decades Virginia was one of the most conservative states in our Union.  This makes sense because so many of the founders were from Virginia men like Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington.  Much of the energy for the revolution came out of the independent mindset of the valleys and forges of that Great state.  I know this well because my parents were born and raised there, I went to HS there for two years and spent 5.5 years of college there.

But the bureaucratic machine of Washington DC has grown so exponentially that the state has swung to being more liberal based upon the population of what is called NOVA or more specifically the huge suburbs of DC.   That’s amazing.

Now the same was true in Jesus’ day there was a group that controlled the nation.  Provided much of its governance, although at the whims of Rome, they were the Priests and the Levites.  They were the establishment bureaucracy of the day.  And in this passage it’s John the Baptist they’ve come to check out.

John’s gospel is pretty well understood to be the last one written.  And it is clear he doesn’t feel compelled to tell us all the things that Matthew, Luke, and JMark’s gospels have already said.  Instead he wants us to learn – very clearly, who John the Baptist said he was.

We have to get two important facts on the table; I’ll come to those in a moment, but first some background on him.  John is not an establishment guy.  He’s, to use a later historical term, a peasant.  He has no education, he has no credentials, and he has risen up from among the people with a message that in all honesty is not pleasant.  To summarize John’s message was, “Repent or die”.  And what is amazing is how many were coming out to listen to him.

He’s drummed up an amazing following.  So these establishment people are rattled and they come out to examine him for themselves.  In John it sounds like a pleasant exchange in the other gospels he says, “You brood of vipers…”.  Nice introduction right?

Now here are the two things we need to learn about john.  We human beings have two natural tendencies when we are confronted with a hero or a popular figure:

  1. To idolize them and place them above their real status.
  2. To tear them to pieces. (No wonder nobody good goes into politics anymore).

So the gospel of John clearly wants us to get clarity on the two things that mattered very much in his contemporary landscape.

John was not Jesus, the messiah, the Christ (same thing), he’s not “The Prophet”.  John the Baptist has a very simple role (in his mind) and he makes the point very clearly by quoting scripture.  We’ll come back to this.

“Christ” is the Greek word for “anointed one” just as “messiah” is the Hebrew word for the same.  It is clear that John’s message was so compelling that many thought he was the messiah or the Christ.  Not a pressing matter for us to understand today but an important one.  What is important for today is that John is not either of these.

Now he says he’s not “Elijah” this is confusing to many because later Jesus refers to him as “Elijah”.  The point is that he is not literally Elijah.   However, he did fulfill Elijah’s prophetic role in his time.  There are very complex beliefs about Elijah in the Jewish faith that are not important to today’s message.

The question “are you The Prophet”.  Now this is more a matter of current events (then).  The Jews are a conquered people, they are under Roman Rule and many feel they are every bit as enslaved as they were in Egypt.  They were hoping that if not the Messiah maybe God would send a mighty prophet like Moses – a deliverer.  John is clear – I am not that either.

Now the second thing we tend to do with heroes is to tear them apart.  If they don’t deliver what we want from them we then have to destroy them.  John the Baptist takes the opportunity to set up realistic expectations for himself.  “I have come to make straight paths for the Lord” (quoting Isaiah 40:3)   – if we repent of our sins we are far along the path to recognizing our need for a savior.  He clarifies this further as we pick up in verse 24:

24 Now some Pharisees who had been sent

 25 questioned him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?”   26 “I baptize with water,” John replied, “but among you stands one you do not know.

 27 He is the one who comes after me, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.”

 28 This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptizing.


John’s baptism is with water – that’s a baptism of repentance.  It’s not the same baptism that Jesus brings.  So just as an aside – all this talk about having to base our baptism off of this particular scene is pointless.  Scripture refers to this multiple times as “John’s Baptism”.  Not the same thing.  I want to pause here again to put this in context with modern days this baptism has an old testament parallel.  2 Chronicles 7:14

Now back to the topic at hand once again to put this in context with modern days this baptism has an old testament parallel.  2 Chronicles 7:14

if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot.  I’m told over and over again by one of our candidates for president that my thoughts/beliefs on homosexuality, transgenderism, and many other things are bigotry.  I’m just going to say it:  If my belief that a guy in a dress should not be allowed to use the bathroom with my daughter is bigotry then so be it.  If my belief that the Bible’s teachings on marriage are homophobic then that is what I am.  I reject those labels because they  are changing the definitions.  That is not bigotry nor is it homophobia – it is faithfulness and common sense.  We have reached a point in our nation where deviancy is protected more than religious liberty.  Our nation is broken.

In 60 days we will all vote.  I will vote based upon a few very important issues:  the life of the unborn.  This is as important a moral issue as slavery was in its day.  If we as a nation do not repent of the mass destruction of babies we will reap judgment.  I will vote for a leader that will nominate conservative judges.  If you are concerned about religious liberties, and you should be, you can be sure that in the next 10 years the matter will be decided, in the courtroom, not in the congress of this country.  To even hold to biblical views on marriage is on track to be against the law.

Lastly but less importantly I will vote for national security.  Because I believe America must remain strong for the good of the earth, however, that is more a matter for God to control than us.  It is not xenophobic to believe in the rule of law and national sovereignty.

If we don’t exercise our vote, we will see an escalation of the destruction of our nation.  But, more important than our vote is the condition of our hearts.  Israel clearly was facing a crisis.  I am assuming that the population was caving into the pagan bureaucracy of the day just as we are caving into the secular bureaucracy of our day.  We need to repent of putting our personal comfort ahead of our national need in this moment.  To quote a line from the movie “God’s Not Dead 2”  I will not sacrifice the approval of God for the approval of Man.

Repentance is a starting point.  But we need more than temporary repentance.  I say one of the greatest deterrents to real disaster relief is people feeling sorry.  Because most people think feeling sorry is enough.  The same is true of salvation ,any fail to truly follow God because they think feeling sorry regarding their sin is enough.  Feeling sorry is actually the beginning of salvation.  Belief, faith these are the true empowerment of the Holy Spirit – acting upon it is a sign of God’s grace at work in our hearts.  listen:

29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

 30 This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’   31 I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.”

 32 Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him.   33 I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’

 34 I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God.”

Baptism – repentance is all about preparing us for a savior:  Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.  John the Apostle, relates this story much differently than the other gospels.  He’s assuming a certain familiarity with the story among his readers.  So here he makes sure that we all see that John the Baptist is getting crystal clear.  Jesus is the son of God.  (Notice appearance of the Holy Spirit).  John the Baptist is a guy – Jesus is so much more.

Jesus is our savior.  Ultimately we belong to God brothers and sisters.  Just like the Jews we face a national crisis.  But our call to repentance is less about preserving our physical nation of residence than our spiritual home.  We are ultimately aliens on this planet.  Our home is a heavenly kingdom that is both appearing now and still coming in the future.  It is not fulfilled.  But it will be.  Even if we lose this culture war – God is in control.

You can be sure there is a brood of vipers that want you to surrender your spiritual calling.  They want you to focus on your comfort, they will intimidate you to confess less and get along more.  And that is the broad road to damnation.  I’m sorry but that’s true.  So this day as we read the call of John to repentance.  Let me ask you – what have you come to see?  Do you want God to provide for your material comfort?  Are you here to preserve your earthly treasures?  To pray for your physical comfort?  Then I think you will leave this place empty.  If you come to meet your savior, then I promise you will be fulfilled.

Feeling sorry is a start.  Recognizing today you are a sinner is a beginning.  It is a beginning because you have recognized the power of God, his right to judge.  As you recognize his right to judge you must recognize that you have fallen short.  Then you must make a choice.  Will you accept the straight path before you?  Will you see that Jesus Christ is the son of God?  Will you see that he is the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world?  If you do, then you must bow your knee.

For those who’ve done this, we worship because we are grateful.  You’ve come to see and hear the old story once anew and because of the gospel you are blessed.  For those who are reaching this decision today – you may feel a little “compressed”, a little threatened, a little scared but let me assure you what we will learn in the chapters and days ahead will give you great comfort.  Jesus is worthy of your trust, he’s worthy of your praise.  All your struggles, all your pain will find answers in his story all your life will find meaning in his message.  He’s that good.

Let us pray…