A Voice in the Wilderness John 1:19-34
On the last day of 2017 we should spend a little time looking back. What did we accomplish? What did we miss? What did we learn? It’s a season for making resolutions. What do you think is the most common new year’s resolution? According to one article:
1. Diet, Exercise, Lose Weight.
2. Read More
3. Learn something new (take up a new hobby)
4. Save Money
5. Be nicer, Kinder, more patient
6. Get a new job
7. Volunteer and donate more to charity
8. Drink less alcohol
9. Relax and get more sleep
10. Make new friends and be a better friend
The Good News: about 41% of Americans make new year’s resolutions. The Bad News: Only about 9.2 % of us will achieve our resolutions. Whether you set resolutions or not, it is important to have your life headed in a particular direction. If you aim at nothing, you’re sure to achieve it! Our text today is more about getting life focused in the right direction, rather than just how to have a better life. I’m convinced if our life is focused on Jesus we will have a better life!
1. Hear the Voice in the Wilderness! (John 1:19-28)
John 1:19-28 (CEB) This is John’s testimony when the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him, “Who are you?” John confessed (he didn’t deny but confessed), “I’m not the Christ.” They asked him, “Then who are you? Are you Elijah?” John said, “I’m not.” “Are you the prophet?” John answered, “No.” They asked, “Who are you? We need to give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” John replied, “I am a voice crying out in the wilderness, Make the Lord’s path straight, just as the prophet Isaiah said.” Those sent by the Pharisees asked, “Why do you baptize if you aren’t the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?”John answered, “I baptize with water. Someone greater stands among you, whom you don’t recognize. He comes after me, but I’m not worthy to untie his sandal straps.” This encounter took place across the Jordan in Bethany where John was baptizing.
John the Baptist didn’t seem to be a likely candidate to pave the way for the ministry of Christ to begin. He had a wild appearance! He had an offensive message! He lived a weird lifestyle! He broke out of the usual religious scenery! He had an unusual purpose: (John 1:23) But John was still a great man with a great message. With personal humility, John pointed away from his work and words to the One who was to come.
John 3:30 “He must increase and I must decrease.”
The world needed the directive message of John the Baptist –just this time to introduce Jesus. We need a voice in the wilderness as well. Without a focus on Christ our life can be a wilderness.
Wilderness of Sin – around us and within us. Romans 3:23 “All have sinned and fall short of God’s glory.”
Wilderness of Divided Attention – so many voices calling out to us every day. Is the voice of God drowned out?
Wilderness of Disappointment – with God, with other people, even with ourselves. Many people give up.
Wilderness of Religious Disengagement. Less and less engaged with church and it kills our spiritual life.
Whatever your wilderness, hear the voice in the wilderness calling you to Christ.
2. Keep Your Eyes On Jesus (20-34)
John 1:29-30, 34 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one about whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is really greater than me because he existed before me.’ …. I have seen and testified that this one is God’s Son.”
*He is the Lamb of God (29)
A common expression for us, but this is the only time in Scripture that the term “lamb of God” is used. Jesus is referred to as a Lamb.
Sacrifice (Isaiah 53:7 He was oppressed and tormented, but didn’t open his mouth. Like a lamb being brought to slaughter, like a ewe silent before her shearers, he didn’t open his mouth.”)
Victor. Revelation 7:17 For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; ‘he will lead them to springs of living water.’ ‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’”
*He is the Sin Remover (29b)
Taking away the sins of the world / my sin. The very thing that can keep us from what we want most in life is our own sin. In this new year we cannot continue to walk in sin and still believe that we are enjoying the best of what God had to offer.
Romans 6:23 The wages that sin pays are death, but God’s gift is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
*He is Able (30, 34), he is both Eternal (30) and the Son of God (34)
Whatever else has our attention today, we should turn our eyes to Jesus the eternal Savior.
Whatever other new year’s resolutions you might have, we can’t afford to leave off two: Hear the voice in the wilderness, and keep your eyes on Jesus.
“Keep thine eye simply on Him; let His death, His sufferings, His merits, His glories, His intercession, be fresh upon thy mind; when thou wakest in the morning look to Him; when thou liest down at night look to Him. Oh! let not thy hopes or fears come between thee and Jesus; follow hard after Him, and He will never fail thee.” – Spurgeon
We are to follow Him. We are called to spend our days with Jesus … learning, imitating, growing. We are to share Him. (John 1:40-42). John the baptist pointed to Jesus. John’s disciples beheld him, followed him, and now are sharing him. As we share we remember that we are introducing the lost to Jesus … but not Jesus to the Lost…for He already knows their name.
Psalm 32:1-2 Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord does not count against them and in whose spirit is no deceit.
1. We can all think of New Year’s Resolutions we haven’t kept, can you name one you have kept? Or one you intend to keep this year?
2. Who do you think is more like John the Baptist today, and why:
*A Yelling Street Preacher
*A Preacher in the Pulpit
*A Christian Serving the Poor
*A Disciple sharing faith with a lost person
3. John Calls Jesus the “Lamb of God” – a unique expression in all of Scripture, found only here. The reference is unclear, though there are several possibilities.
*The Passover Lamb – when children of Israel’s lives were spared in Egypt due to the blood of the lamb on the doorposts.
*The lamb led to the slaughter in Isaiah 53:7, the suffering servant prophecy.
*The lamb of the daily sacrifices offered morning and evening in the Temple.
*The Triumphant Lamb of apocalypse. (Revelation).
Any of those may be what John has in mind, but which one holds the most significant meaning to you?
4. Twice in John 1 Jesus is presented as being “unknown” (see vs. 10 and 26). In what ways was Jesus “unknown” in those two verses? What is it about Jesus that seems to be “unknown” today? Is there something ‘unknown’ about Jesus that you wish you knew?
5. Who has been a “John the Baptist” in your life – someone who has served as a spiritual guide and one willing to talk to you if they see something amiss?
6. Name one thing about Jesus you wish the whole world knew.