Gospel Quest 15 Jesus and John
Text: John 3:27-36.
A young boy from Pecos, Texas, heard a man driving through town asking for directions. On hearing the for the first time the man’s unsouthern accent, He asked the stranger
“Hey, mister are you from Texas?”
Before the man could answer the little boy’s father on hearing the question, said, “Excuse my boy sir, You have a great day.”
He hurried with his son out of earshot and then said, "Son, you never ask a man if he is from Texas.”
“Why not, Daddy? Asked the puzzled youngster.
“ Well, Son. Its like this. If a man is from Texas, he'll tell you before you can ask him. But if he isn’t from Texas, well then we don’t want to embarrass Him.”
Now I’m not going to ask you where you’re from this morning, but I know some of you are going to tell me anyway, cause y’all are from Texas. No I’m not going to ask that but I am going to ask something even more important, even to Texans, Do you know, not where you’re from but who you?
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 answer to that question not only defined who John was, but it also would tell a great deal about who Jesus was. The same question and answer, as we look at them this morning, can tell us about who and what we are supposed to be when it also come to Jesus.
John Knows 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 Knows Who He Is In Jesus
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 placed upon the earth. He understood his purpose in life.
In vs 27 we see that he is a man who knows he is blessed and is humbled by that blessing vs. 27 “A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven.”
In vs. 28 He sees himself as a man who has been given a purpose and who is fulfilled by his calling to carry out that purpose. vs. 28 “I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him.”
In vs 29, He explains that he is a man who knew himself in and though 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.”
John’s gifts, his purpose, his calling and his joy were all a part of his relationship to Jesus the Messiah, it was this sense of who he was in Christ that would give him the strength to not only be the voice crying the in wilderness but also the voice that would call down a king for adultery and the voice praying in a prison cell while he waiting for a sword to fall across his neck.
Knowing Yourself In Jesus
There are three questions that come to mind that we should ask ourselves in light of John's words. Three questions that must be answered if we are to ever know ourselves and our purpose for being on this earth.
First, Are you humbled by the blessings of God in your life?
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 it defined the person he was and would be. If we are to ever know ourselves we must know that we are blessed by God and in that blessing know we don’t deserve “that which comes from heaven” and yet God has poured them into our life and if fact has blessed us with life.
Secondly, Are you fulfilled by God’s calling?
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 give to my life and who I am. My life as a child of God serves one of the greatest purposes in eternity, that I should be, that my existence, my life, my purpose, my service is to be to the praise of His glory. That’s what John knew, and we are not called to be the last Old Testament Prophet while also being the first New Testament prophet but we are stilled called to a eternal purpose. Fulfill that purpose and you will discover who you are.
Finally, we should ask ourselves, Do I know who I am though my relationship with Jesus Christ? Your real identity, your true self is directly tied to Jesus. God has created you for a reason and that reason is only seen when you see yourself in the light of 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: The Fellowship of the Unashamed
When I can answer these questions, then I know who I am, I have a purpose in life through Jesus Christ. I am a Christian, I am God's child, I am a soldier of the cross. By God’s grace, I am somebody!
Let me read to you a writing called the Fellowship of the Unashamed. It’s origins are obscure but most agree it was written by an Christian martyr in Africa who refused to renounce Christ and was killed by his own tribe. Some stories say he was a missionary, some a student, some a pastor and there are small changes in words when you read the different versions, but one this is clear, this was a person who knew who he was in Jesus Christ.
"I'm part of the fellowship of the unashamed. I have the Holy Spirit's power. The die has been cast. I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made. I'm a disciple of His. I won't look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still. My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, my future is secure. I'm finished and done with low living, sight walking, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed visions, worldly talking, cheap giving, and dwarfed goals."
"I no longer need preeminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits, or popularity. I don't have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised, regarded, or rewarded. I now live by faith, lean on His presence, walk by patience, am uplifted by prayer, and I labor with power."
"My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is Heaven, my road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions few, my Guide reliable, my mission clear. I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, turned back, deluded, or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifices, hesitate in the presence of the enemy, pander at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity."
"I won't give up, shut up, or let up, until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up, paid up, and preached up for the cause of Christ. I am a disciple of Jesus. I must go till He comes, give till I drop, preach till all know, and work till He stops me. And, when he comes for his own, he will have no problem recognizing me ... my banner will be clear."
Transition: John the Baptist knew who he was because he knew who Jesus was. In vs. 30 he further explains that relationship.
John Knows Jesus - 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 Knew Jesus Must be Preeminent
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 and his purpose from God.
John knows that he must fade while Jesus must grows. I don’t think we often realize how important John the Baptist was to the people of Israel. He was the first prophet to Israel in over 400 years. John was the forerunner to the Messiah. His coming had been prophesied over a 1000 years before and people understood what it meant now that he was here. His birth was foretold by an angel, one of only three such births in all the Bible, His name was given by that same angel. John the Baptist stood look a colossus with one foot planted in the Old Testament and one foot planted in the New. He was the transitional prophet from the Old to the New. People poured out of the cities into the desert to hear, “the voice of one crying in the wilderness.” He had many disciples and all of Jesus’ disciples were taken from John. Jesus said, in Matthew 11:11 “Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist”
But Now John himself says, he must now fade from sight and Jesus must rise. This happened very quickly once Jesus was baptized. Ultimately this took place when John was imprisoned by Herod, after he accused Herod of adultery, (who says Christians aren’t supposed to get involved in politics?) Only after Jesus hears that John is in prison does he begins his public ministry in Israel.
Is Jesus Preeminent in Our Life?
If you know who you are in your relationship with Christ, as John did, then also like John, I must know that I must decrease if Jesus is to increase in my life. If Jesus is to be preeminent then some things in my life must be removed so that Christ can have first place.
Let me give you an illustration, to rise higher in a balloon, ballast or weights must be tossed overboard. If you don’t get rid of the ballast, those things holding you down, then you don’t rise up. So it is with the Christian seeking a higher and closer relationship with Christ.
Survey this truth in Colossians 1, 2 and 3 (wow you are going to get 2 sermons today and one will cover the book of Colossians. This is what happens when your pastor goes to a preaching workshop.)
Colossians 1:27 1st step Launch with the right pilot
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:
Colossians 2:6-7 2nd step Stay the course
As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.
Colossians 2:20-22 3rd step Let go the regulation rope
Wherefore if ye be 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;) after the commandments and doctrines of men?
Colossians 3:1-2 4th step Breath the rarefied air.
If ye then be risen 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.
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. These, and so many other things I measure myself by and count as valuable, must be thrown overboard and I must let Christ take control me. "He will increase only as I decrease."
Quote: “I used to think that God's gifts were on shelves one above the other and that the taller we grew in Christian character, the more easily we should reach them. I find now that God's gifts are on shelves one beneath the other and that is not a question of growing taller, but of stooping lower and that we have to go down, always down to get His best ones.” - F.B. Meyer
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 will 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.
John (the Apostle) Knows 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 Apostle Looks to Us.
He describes us as believers with this phrase, “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. Today if you want to absolutely verify something as being witnessed you have a notary put a seal on the paper recording that truth. John says that is what we will do when we believe, when we receive John the Baptists testimony, we set to our seal that God is true. We do this not with a signet ring on hot wax but with our witness, our own testimony and the seal of the life we live as a child of God. Those who set their seal leave their mark by their faith.
They believe what Jesus said. Every word, every promise, every lesson, every parable as true and the words of life.
They believe who Jesus was. Sent by God, filled with the Spirit, loved by the Father, creator and sustainer of all creation.
They believe what faith in Jesus does. Giving everlasting life. They would also know that those without faith would be left to everlasting death and under the abiding, the waiting wrath of God.
Is John Describing Us?
Are we believers who have set the seal of my life showing that God is true.
Do we really believe what Jesus says? If so then we will decrease our words, our thoughts, our voices, in order that Jesus words, thoughts and voice may increase through me.
Do we really believe who Jesus is? If so then we will decrease our confidence, our plans, our ways and then He will increase His presence and person in our lives and through our lives in our church.
Do we really believe what faith in Jesus can do? Then we will decrease apathy, ignorance, and fear and He will increase his power in us.
If I believe, If I have set to my seal that God is true, then I will tell others that salvation is only through Jesus Christ, He is the way, the truth and the life and there is no other name given under heaven whereby we must be saved.
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 and Jesus increased. William Booth faded away, just as John the Baptist and finally all that was left was Jesus Christ.
I want to leave you with two of the most challenging statements found in the Bible both from this passage. I want you to examine yourself in light of these two statements.
The first is “I must decrease, and He must increase.” What of yourself needs to be tossed overboard in order to rise higher in your relationship with Jesus?
The second phrase is “He has set to his seal that God is true.” In what specific way have you “set the seal” of your life to show that God is true?
In light of those two challenges from God’s word, what do I need to do? What commitment, what action, what repentance what step of faith, must I take?