Do You Really Know Jesus? #3 New Priority
Text: John 3:27-36
Introduction: Song leader/ Cop who gives songs with ticket to preacher.
Once there was a preacher who couldn't keep from speeding, ironically this preacher had in his congregation a Highway Patrolman who was his song leader. One day on the way to a fellowship meeting clear across the state the pastor was blowing out the carbon, (speeding), and sure enough he was pulled over by his own song leader. The pastor hoped he would let him off. After taking quite a while in the patrol car, the patrolman came back. He handed the pastor a ticket and a little note. This is what the note said.
Dear Pastor, here is a list of songs for you to sing while you are driving down the highway.
At 45 MPH sing, "God will take care of you."
At 55 MPH sing, "Peace, Be Still"
At 65 MPH sing, "Nearer, my God, to Thee."
At 75 MPH sing, "I’ll Fly Away"
At 85 MPH sing, "This world is not my Home."
At 95 MPH sing, "Lord, I'm coming Home."
At 100 MPH we'll be singing, "Precious Memories." at your funeral.
That song leader understood that different speeds meant different levels of closeness to God, literally. When it comes to our spiritual lives, we as Christians live at different levels of closeness to God as well. From newborn babe, to child, to growing disciple, to servant and even to martyr. John the Baptist obtained a level of relationship, which I would call "preparer". He lived in such a way as to prepare peoples heart for the savior. I would like to experience that level. I would like to live there. I would like to be one who could call out, "Behold, the Lamb of God," and people would recognize Jesus ready to come into their hearts. If that is to happen, some of the same qualities and characteristics in John's life must be present in mine. So lets go to John 3 and down to verse 27 for the text of our next sermon in the Do You Really Know Jesus series and consider a new priority.
John chapter 3 is one of the most well know passages in the Bible because it contains John 3:16 but we often don’t consider what was written after Jesus famous encounter with Nicodemus. It is another encounter though this time it is not a face to face but is an encounter between two ministries, two prophets and two of the greatest names of the Jewish people, Jesus and John the Baptist.
The encounter takes place as both John and Jesus are baptizing near each other in the Jordan river. A dispute comes up between John’s disciples and the Jews, that question probably had to do with Jesus and his authority to do what John had been doing before Jesus come on the scene. That question about who Jesus was and who John was, is answered in our passage this morning.
John John 3:27-29
John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven. Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him. He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled.
John looks to himself
As we read these opening verses we can see something about John the Baptist, that he is a man who knows who he is and he knows why he was here.
He is a man who is blessed and humbled by the blessing vs. 27 “A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven”
He is a man who is fulfilled by his calling vs. 28 “I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him.”
He is a man who knew himself in and by his relationship with Jesus Christ. vs. 29 “the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled.”
Knowing who he is through his relationship with Jesus Christ gave John a purpose for his life, a purpose that would take him through this life and into eternity.
Have you looked at yourself?
There are three questions that come to mind that we should ask ourselves in light of John's words.
First, Do you see yourself as blessed and does that leave you humbled?
The Bible says in James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
This is what John understood and if we are to ever know ourselves and really know Jesus it is a foundation knowledge that we must understand.
Secondly, Are you fulfilled by a calling as John was?
Ephesians 1:11-12 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.
All of us have a purpose, given to us from God, that we should be to the praise of His glory. I love that phrase and the sense of purpose it conveys. My life as a child of God serves one of the greatest purposes in eternity, that I should be, that my existence is defined in this, the praise of His glory.
Finally, we should ask ourselves, Are I fulfilled in my relationship with Jesus? Do I know who I am in relation to and with Jesus? Have you discovered your real identity, your true self? Do you realize who God created you to be because you have discovered Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior?
Knowing Jesus is the only way you’ll ever really know yourself as God intended you to be.
Illustration: No need to embarrass him.
When I can answer these questions, then I know who I am, I am somebody, I have a purpose in Jesus Christ. I am a Christian, I am God's child, I am a soldier of the cross. I am somebody!
On a different level it is kind of like the young Texan boy who asked a stranger he had just met if he was from the great state of Texas. His father overheard the question and before the man could answer he pulled his son aside.
"Son, never ask a man if he is from Texas.”
“Why not, Daddy?
"Well, Son. Its like this. If a man comes from Texas, he'll tell you without being asked and if he isn’t from Texas then you wouldn’t want to embarrass Him by asking.”
Transition: John now expands upon the relationship he has with Jesus in verse 30.
Jesus and John - John 3:30-31
He must increase, but I must decrease. He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all.
John's Emphasis was on Christ's Preeminence
John makes this powerful statement "He must increase but I must decrease." It is powerful because its very simplicity forces us to examine its depths. It is both an explanation to his disciples and a reiteration of his orders from God.
John knows that he must fade while Jesus must grow. John was the first prophet to Israel in 400 years. John was the forerunner to the Messiah, and had been prophesied over a 1000 years before, but he must now fade from sight. This was to occur very quickly now that Jesus was on the scene. Ultimately this take place when John is imprisoned by Herod. When Jesus hears this, he begins his public ministry in Israel.
Who is Preeminent in Your Life?
I must decrease in myself if Jesus is to increase in my life.
Let me give you an illustration, to rise higher in a balloon, ballast must be tossed over board.
To rise even higher more valuable things must be sacrificed. So it is with the Christian seeking a higher and closer relationship with Christ.
Survey this truth in Colossians
Colossians 1:27 1st step Launch with the right pilot, Christ in you
To whom God would make known what [is] the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:
Col. 2:6-7 2nd step Stay the course, As ye received so walk.
As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, [so] walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and established in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.
Col. 2:20-22 3rd step Let go the regulation rope, tied to the world.
Therefore if ye are dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Touch not; taste not; handle not; Which all are to perish with the using;) according to the commandments and doctrines of men?
Col. 3:1-2 4th step Breath the rarefied air.
If ye then were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.
We are alive with Christ, we must then look towards Christ, have a love for things of Christ, because our life is hid in Christ.
If you're going to this height, then your own efforts, attempts, discipline, will power must cease. They must be thrown overboard and I must let Christ pilot me. "He will increase as I decrease."
Illustration Paul just before shipwreck on Melita Acts 28
1st they threw over the Cargo: They lightened the ship; Then the Reserves: And the third day we cast out the tackling of the ship. Then the Bible says, their Hope in others: all hope taken away. Their only means of Escape in another ship was tossed: when they cut off the ropes of the boat, and let her fall off. Even their Future was jettison when they lightened the ship, and cast the wheat into the sea. Finally they even tossed themselves into the care of God: Paul told them they should cast themselves first into the sea, and get to land. When all they had was gone, then they knew that all they needed was God. And so it came to pass, that they all escaped safe to land. They cast away everything until all they had left was God.
"When you come to the place in your life where God is all you have left, then for the first time in your life you realize that God is all you need."
Transition: John the apostle and writer of this book, now adds his own emphasis to the answer of John the Baptist, that commentary turns the focus directly on us.
Jesus and You John 3:32-36
And what he hath seen and heard, that he testifieth; and no man receiveth his testimony. He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true. For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him. The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand. He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.
John (the Evangelist) looks to those who follow after John (the Baptist) in believing Jesus.
They would set their seal that God is true. In the days of John in order to witness something and to show that you knew it to be true you would have a signet ring or seal and you would press that ring into hot wax to leave an impression, a record that said, I am a witness this is true. John says that is what we will do we set to our seal that God is true. They do this not with a ring on hot wax but with a living witness and testimony. Those who set their seal leave their mark by their faith.
They would believe what Jesus said. Every word, every promise, every lesson, every parable as true and vital.
They would believe who Jesus was. Sent by God, filled with the Spirit, loved by the Father, and empowered over all things.
They would believe what faith in Jesus would do. Give everlasting life, and believe that those without faith would be left in everlasting death and under the abiding wrath of God.
Are We Following?
I want to set to do what John said, I want to set the seal of my life to show that God is true.
Do I really believe what Jesus says? If so then I will decrease my own words, my own thoughts, my own voice, that Jesus might increase His words in me.
Do I really believe who Jesus is? Then I will decrease my confidence, my plans, my way and He will increase His presence and person in my life.
Do I really believe what faith in Jesus can do? Then I will decrease my apathy, my ignorance, my fear and He will increase his power in my life. I will tell others of Christ and his power to save because if they don’t believe then eternity for them is the wrath of God’s judgment because they rejected His Son.
Illustration: William Booth and the Salvation Army
William Booth walked among the poor, hungry, sick, and lonely people of London, England. The people were crammed into crumbling buildings that were full of rats. They had no jobs. There was no one to help them. Worst of all, there was no one to tell them that Jesus cared. They did not know that Jesus died to be their Saviour and lives again to be their Lord.
William Booth told his wife, "I have given myself to work for God among those sick souls." The work that was begun at that time is today known as the Salvation Army.
Years later when someone asked General Booth the secret of his success, he said, "God has had all there was of me to have! From the day I got the poor of London on my heart, and a vision of what Jesus Christ would do for them, I made up my mind that God would have all there was of William Booth. God has had all the adoration of my heart, all the power of my will, and all the influence of my life."
William Booth gave Jesus complete charge of his life. He made Jesus Lord of all. He decreased so that Jesus would increase.
Conclusion: Would you be like John?
Would you be like John? Can you lose yourself that Jesus might more be found? Will you hang like a banner in your heart the deep powerful truth he understood, lived and died to uphold? "He must increase, I must decrease.”