Malankara World Journal
Theme: Humility of John The Baptist
Volume 7 No. 457 January 19, 2018
III. Featured: Humility of John The Baptist
by John BarnettGospel: Matthew 11:11 I invite you to consider Jesus, humility - and the greatest man who ever lived up until Christ. The supreme lesson of John the Baptist's life is humility. And there can be no more vital message that we all need to hear than that God HATES pride. God uses John because he was willing to obey the Lord and by the power of the Holy Spirit in his life cultivate humility. PRIDE IS AN EPIDEMIC James Bjoanstad writes:
At one time, most Christians believed that to have a close relationship with God, a person should magnify God, deny himself and the pleasures of this world, repent and confess his sins, and live a holy and separated life. Their heroes were missionaries who gave up everything to serve God and martyrs who suffered because of their faith. Today, it"s becoming a different story. Many Christians believe that to have a close relationship with God, a person should realize the importance of himself as God intended, pursue his dreams and aspirations, and become affluent and successful. Their heroes are those celebrities and self-made individuals who happened to be Christians. Behind this new gospel stands a variety of distinguished teachers, preachers, and evangelists proclaiming a variety of ways to attain prosperity and success. But examining their theological models and points of emphasis reveals one common element--they are simply not biblical. Why not do a spelling lesson with me? Let’s notice together that I is right in the middle of some very big things in life. First spell "sin" with me: s-I-n. Now spell "pride" with me: pr-I-de. Now how about "anxiety": anx-I-ety. Here is the best one, spell Satan’s original name with me, it was "Lucifer", spell that with me: luc-I-fer. So that I is in the middle of all my sins, all my pride, all my anxieties, and all the time doing the will of the Devil! No matter what else you do in your life, if humility is not yours then God will resist everything else you and I do. God is moment-by-moment in a personal warfare against pride in the life of believers. It is the sin He hates most, sees first, and wants us to likewise hate. No saint more fully or greatly pointed to God then when a simple man dressed like a peasant, after a lifetime of discipline and self denial thundered from the wilderness, "Its time to look at Jesus!" By using John, God Demonstrates the essence of true humility in John the Baptist--because the key to God’s blessing is humility He has been prepared by God as a man alone, a man apart, a great man, greater than had not been born from among women Jesus said. Why? What had refined and shaped this man to such a point as that? Listen to the testimony of John and we will hear his secret. He Must Increase Please turn with me to John 1 and trace again those events God's Word records that reveal John’s character as he sought to serve the Lord as His humble servant. The key to being constantly showered with grace is humility. Christ must increase and I must decrease. That is the essence of humility. Humility produces spiritual blessing. Just as every sin starts in pride, every virtue begins in humility. Humility allows us to see ourselves as we are, because it shows us before God as He is. The life of John the Baptist gives seven principles we may apply in determining humility. First, John the Baptist was humble because he used his life as a ministry to others. John 1:22-27 Then they said to him, "Who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?"23 He said: "I am 'The voice of one crying in the wilderness: "Make straight the way of the Lord," ’ as the prophet Isaiah said." 24 Now those who were sent were from the Pharisees. 25 And they asked him, saying, "Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?" 26 John answered them, saying, "I baptize with water, but there stands One among you whom you do not know. 27 "It is He who, coming after me, is preferred before me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose." God saw true SERVANTHOOD in John the Baptist God is looking for servants. II Chronicles 16:9 says that tonight God's eyes are running up and down the world looking for those whose whole heart seeks Him. They will be willing to be voices. God needs voices and John the Baptist was willing to be one for God. Note how Mark 1:2-3 quotes from both Malachi 3:1 and Isaiah 40:3 in those opening verses. The words messenger and voice refer to John the Baptist, the prophet God sent to prepare the way for His Son (Matt. 3; Luke 3:1-18; John 1:19–34). In ancient times, before a king visited any part of his realm, a messenger was sent before him to prepare the way. This included both repairing the roads and preparing the people. By calling the nation to repentance, John the Baptist prepared the way for the Lord Jesus Christ. Isaiah and Malachi join voices in declaring that Jesus Christ is the Lord, Jehovah God. Second, John the Baptist was humble because he closed his mouth to complaining.
John 3:22-27a After these things Jesus and His disciples came into the land of Judea, and there He remained with them and baptized. 23 Now John also was baptizing in Aenon near Salim, because there was much water there. And they came and were baptized. 24 For John had not yet been thrown into prison. 25 Then there arose a dispute between some of John’s disciples and the Jews about purification. 26 And they came to John and said to him, "Rabbi, He who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified—behold, He is baptizing, and all are coming to Him!" 27 John answered and said, "A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven.Without realizing it, John’s disciples were putting him into a situation of competing against the Lord Jesus! "All men come to Him!" (John 3:26) sounds like a wail of despair. It is interesting to note that four of the greatest men in the Bible faced this problem of comparison and competition:
Moses (Num. 11:26–30),How did John the Baptist handle this controversy? He didn’t complain. He wasn’t proud so he didn’t grasp on to ministry. He knew that he was just a voice and what ever God wanted to do with that voice was great with him. But as we see below, this controversy revealed a deeper level of humility in John’s life. Third, John the Baptist was humble because he opened his will to God's. John 3:27b John answered and said, "A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven. John saw that his duty in life was to obey God. Whatever the cost or discomfort, it did not matter. All he wanted was to be a voice for God, a tool in His Hand and allow what God would give him from Heaven to be his sacred duty. And that simple, child-like faith, and humble service are what Christ's words about John being great are reflecting. John the Baptist had a deeply held conviction a conviction: all ministry and blessing come from God, so there can be no competition (John 3:27). Paul would have agreed with this (1 Cor. 3:1–9; 4:1–7). Since all our gifts and opportunities come from the Lord, then whatever He does with those gifts through us is totally His will—but the end result must always be that He alone must get the glory. Fourth, John the Baptist was humble because he opened his eyes to Christ, John 3:30a "He must increase…" John the Baptist had a longer for Christ to be magnified. He wanted to get all of the attention onto Christ and off of himself. That is the heart’s desire of the humble. Proud people want recognition, the humble want all the glory and honor and recognition to go the Lord. In the process, as Paul says, "with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord...being transformed into the same image from glory to glory" (2 Cor. 3:18). The supreme desire of those who minister humbly in the power of the Holy Spirit, staying close to the Cross, and remembering to stay crucified to self is to become more and more like Jesus. He increases, we see Him more and more clearly.
1 John 3:2-3 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3 Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.Fifth, John the Baptist was humble because he closed his heart to self-seeking. John 3:30b "…but I must decrease." Humility destroys self-absorbtion, self-preoccupation, self-sufficiency, and self-reliance. My desire become nothing compared to Christ's which become everything. This humility is nowhere more beautifully expressed than when Paul confessed:
"I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me" (Gal. 2:20). "For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain" (Phil. 1:21).Sixth, John the Baptist was humble because he opened his heart to spend much time in prayer. Luke 11:1 Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, "Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples." GOD SAW TRUE PRAYERFULNESS IN JOHN THE BAPTIST We usually think of John the Baptist as a prophet and martyr, and yet our Lord’s disciples remembered him as a man of prayer. John was a "miracle baby," filled with the Holy Spirit before he was born, and yet he had to pray. He was privileged to introduce the Messiah to Israel, and yet he had to pray. Jesus said that John was the greatest of the prophets (Luke 7:28), and yet John had to depend on prayer. If prayer was that vital to a man who had these many advantages, how much more important it ought to be to us who do not have these advantages! John’s disciples had to pray and Jesus’ disciples wanted to learn better how to pray. They did not ask the Master to teach them how to preach or do great signs; they asked Him to teach them to pray. We today sometimes think that we would be better Christians if only we had been with Jesus when He was on earth, but this is not likely. The disciples were with Him and yet they failed many times! They could perform miracles, and yet they wanted to learn to pray. But the greatest argument for the priority of prayer is the fact that our Lord was a Man of prayer. Luke shows more of Christ's prayers than any other of the Gospels. Luke records seven times Christ prays: He prayed at His baptism (Luke 3:21), before He chose the Twelve (Luke 6:12), when the crowds increased (Luke 5:16), before He asked the Twelve for their confession of faith (Luke 9:18), and at His Transfiguration (Luke 9:29), at Gethsemane (Luke 22:39-46), and on the Cross (Luke 23:34). If Jesus who was perfect, the very Son of God, needed so much prayer during "the days of His flesh" (Heb. 5:7), then how much more do we need to pray! Seventh, John the Baptist was humble because he opened his mouth to praise.
Mark 1:7-8 And he preached, saying, "There comes One after me who is mightier than I, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to stoop down and loose.8 "I indeed baptized you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."Nothing is more powerful about humility than the increased freedom in worship. Remember how Paul described true believers as humble-worshipers? Those two, humilty and worship seem to be tied. Look at Philippians 3:3. Philippians 3:3 For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh, Worship flows from a humble heart. This is Paul enlarging upon this worship filled life of the humble. Paul is saying that worship flows from the life emptied of selfishness and pride. When we are liberated from the tyranny of our own self-driven agenda and onto Christ's we find worship rising from our lives. Much worship these days is so self-generated, self-focused, and self-exalting. From musicians to performers there seems to be a drive to be recognized, seen, honored and sought after. But isn’t all that what the Lord also desires? Isn’t pride competing with God for the glory? So Paul is here giving us a …
Lesson in Godly HumilityReferences:  Moody Monthly, 11/86, p. 19-20.  These ideas are from Thomas Watson as quoted by MacArthur, John F., The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, Matthew 5, (Chicago: Moody Press) 1983 © 2017 Discover The Book Ministries
by Gene BrooksGospel: John 3:22-36 Dr. George Washington Carver said, "When I was young I was walking along a dusty dirt road. I said to God, 'God, tell me the mystery of the universe.' But God answered, 'That knowledge is reserved for me alone.' Then on that dusty road I kicked a peanut. So I said, 'God, tell me the mystery of the peanut.' Then God said, 'Well, George, that's more nearly your size.' And he told me." The young African-American scientist went on to develop hundreds of useful products from the peanut.  M.R. DeHaan, the founder of Radio Bible Class and co-editor of the daily devotion 'Our Daily Bread', used to say, "Humility is something we should constantly pray for, yet never thank God that we have it," because then we would have to repent for pride! Tonight, I have been assigned to preach on humility, and I suppose the Lord knew I need a lesson on it most of all. Our lesson tonight focuses on the humility of John the Baptist. We will give a sketch of his life but focus on a moment in John's life when his humility was most on display – the day he realized it was time for him to step out of the spotlight. Pray and Read: John 3:22-36 Key Truth: Luke wrote John 3:22-36 to give believers an example of humility in John the Baptizer. Key Application: Today I want to show you what God's Word says about humility. Key Verse: John 3:30 LISTENING GUIDE - The cardinal secret of humility is a constant commitment to the increase of Christ and the decrease of self. (John 3:30) Contextual Notes: Jesus once said, "Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist" (Matt. 11:11). A compliment like that sounds like it would have been handpicked for perhaps Moses the great Law-giver or David, Israel's great king and giant killer. But no, Jesus gave that compliment to an eccentric hermit named John. John the Baptist was the forerunner of Jesus, sent by God to prepare the way for Him. Born of elderly parents, both of whom were of Jewish priestly lines, John's birth was announced by an angel in the Holy of Holies. He was born about six months before Jesus. Once grown, John lived in the desert as a hermit, having taken a lifelong Nazarite vow never to drink alcohol or cut his hair. He dressed in camel's hair and a leather belt, hardly dressed for success, and ate locusts and honey. His first public ministry began about A.D. 26 in the Judean wilderness and the Jordan Valley. As a prophet, he announced the soon coming of the Messiah, the Savior of Israel, and urged everyone in an uncompromising, politically incorrect message to prepare by repenting or turning away from their sin. As a sign of their repentance he invited people to be baptized in the Jordan River. LISTENING GUIDE:
John the Baptist was a rough renegade of a man. He was also a great example of a humble man.Huge numbers of common people flocked to the Jordan to be baptized. Religious leaders from the Temple in Jerusalem came to check out this renegade prophet's doctrine so they could report back to their authorities. Jesus came to be baptized too. John did not want to baptize Jesus because he saw that Jesus had no sin, but when the Lord came up out of water, it seems it all became clear that his cousin was indeed the Messiah he had been announcing. John told his disciples, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29), and he encouraged them to join Jesus' band of followers. The humility of men like John the Baptist brings a certain boldness, and John was bold. He called out King Herod publicly for living in adultery with his sister-in-law Herodias. Herod was afraid of John and the power he wielded anyway with the people, and he imprisoned him. After John had been in prison seven months, the dark loneliness of the prison had a bad effect on John, and he sent a message to Jesus to ask if He truly was the Messiah. LISTENING GUIDE: Humble people are honest about their doubts and temptations. (Matthew 11:2-6; Luke 7:18-23). One night a drunken party, the vindictive Herodias took advantage of her position with Herod and ordered John beheaded in the prison and his head presented on a platter. Listening Guide: Humble people are bold in their convictions and take stands that may cost them (Matthew 14:1-12; Mark 6:14-29; Luke 9:7-9). Sermon Points:
1. Humility is not jealous or insecure (John 3:22-26)Exposition: Note well, 1. HUMILITY IS NOT JEALOUS OR INSECURE (JOHN 3:22-26). a. John knew his purpose. He was there to be a forerunner of the Son, a job with three functions: to clear the way in the minds and hearts of others to be ready for the Messiah, to prepare the way by urging people to repent so He would be accepted, and then to get out of the way when the Messiah was introduced. We see in this passage how he gets out of the way, the toughest part of his job, and undoubtedly the reason Jesus thought so much of him. He was humble. b. Jesus had just finished celebrating the Passover in Jerusalem (John 2:23-3:21) where he had a secret late night interview with Nicodemus, a member of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish Ruling Council, in which Jesus told Nicodemus that to be saved one must be born again (John 3:16-17). Now he headed back toward Galilee to inaugurate his ministry there when he came through the area where John was baptizing, an area through which many Jews were traveling home from Passover in Jerusalem. Aenon means "fountains" or "springs," and Salim means peace, so Aenon near Salim is simply, the "Springs of Peace." Notice that their two ministries were operating on the same turf, and people saw them as preaching the same message with the same purpose, "Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near." c. John 3:25 A Jew who had apparently heard Jesus teaching sparked a debate with John. It seems he was trying to drive a wedge between John and Jesus, to sow some doubt, create some strife, create some competition, spin things to get a reaction out of John. John's disciples were feeling the heat of competition, and tempted by jealousy. They took the bait, but John didn't. d. ILLUSTRATION: "Hey, Preacher! You gotta do something! Your attendance is way down compared to this new guy in town, and we're losing a lot of members!" "So why do you think they like the other guy more than you?" "I Sound familiar? There is always somebody who brings up something that is peripheral, something that does not matter, something that doesn't even apply, and try to make an issue of it. We do it often in the church. We get upset over silly things. We make mountains out of molehills. We create drama just for the pure joy of seeing something stirred up. Those kinds of people, like this certain Jew, are to be avoided. Tell them to talk to the hand, because you are not going down that road with them. e. John 3:27-30 John threw cold water on their fire. He said first, that God was in charge, not us (John 3:27); second, that everyone's contribution is significant, but only One's work takes first place (John 3:28). Third, joy comes from being obedient, not from getting the glory (John 3:29). Fourth, humility calls attention to Christ, not self (John 3:30). f. ILLUSTRATION: A young African boy was once asked by a man, "What is your name?" He replied, "Boy." The man knew it was a nickname, so he asked him, "What is your other name?" He replied, "That's what Daddy calls me." So I asked, "Who is your father?", to which he replied, "Daddy." Trying to get more useful information, the man asked, "Who is your mother?" and he told me, "Mummy." The man tried again. "Who does Mummy belong to?" The boy responded, "Daddy." Clearly the boy did not yet know his parent's names, so the man tried a different approach. "Who lives in the house closest to your house?" The reply: "Daddy's friend." This young man had no identity of his own separate from his Daddy. John the Baptist was like this. He defined himself in terms of his relationship to God and Jesus. g. APPLICATION: A humble person is not jealous about protecting turf or crippled with insecurities and unhealthy comparisons with others (John 3:22-26). Envy and jealousy are robbers. Envy has empty hands and wants something someone else has. Jealousy is its evil twin and fears losing what it has. They activate in us when someone else is promoted, when the sophomore gets playing time and you are a senior, when close friends abandon us for others, when a new business is taking most of yours, a supervisor jokes with someone else on your crew but not you. The only way to stop falling for that is humility. Take the path of preferring others more than yourself. Focus on Christ and His purpose for you rather than what is happening to others. 2. HUMILITY FINDS JOY IN OBEDIENCE (John 3:27-30) a. John called himself the friend of the bridegroom, similar to the best man. He arranged the wedding details, sent out the invitations, made announcements, organized the event, and presided over the marriage feast. Once the marriage was consummated, the groom would announce the fact with a shout. When the friends heard the groom's voice, he would be happy and relieved. His job was done. He could step out of the way. b. ILLUSTRATION: My wife has a poster and teaching she uses with the children. J-O-Y. Jesus first. Others second. Yourself last. The first letters spell the secret to joy. It is found in obedience and preferring others above yourself. John Chrysostom said that "humility is the root, mother, nurse, foundation, and bond of all virtue." That is because humility walks hand in hand with obedience. It is like the bit in a horse's mouth. Accepting the bit is an acknowledgement that she is not in control, that she is not first, that the Master will control the reins, and thus the humility of the bit positions the horse for obedience to the Master. Andrew Murray says, "Humility is the only soil in which the graces root; the lack of humility is the sufficient explanation of every defect and failure. Humility is not so much a grace or virtue along with others; it is the root of all, because it alone takes the right attitude before God, and allows Him as God to do all." c. ILLUSTRATION: In his book, The Insanity of God, Southern Baptist missionary Nik Ripken writes of a visit he made to China in 1998. He flew into an airport and was picked up by friends of a friend. They slipped him in the back seat and out of sight as one of them made a phone call, "Our visitor has arrived. We will bring him to location number four at time number seven." The car then slowed and drove in what seemed to be aimless, irregular circles until the dead of night when they finally stopped at the edge of a complex of fifteen-story concrete government housing buildings. They hurried through the shadows, through a rear exit door, up the back stairs, into a hallway, knocking softly on an apartment door. Inside, waiting, were seven underground house church leaders, pastors and evangelists. Four of them had just been released from prison for their faith. They chose to stay a few days in the city to meet Nik, then they would go home to be reunited with their families. d. One of these church leaders who intrigued Nik was Pastor Chang. He was 83 years old and had been out of prison for three days. Pastor Chang had spent his entire adult life preaching and teaching the gospel – and paying a high price for it. He remembered the early days of communism when Chairman Mao attempted to purge China of Christian (western) influence, deporting missionaries overnight, boarding up church buildings or turning them into brothels and bars. Thousands of believers like Pastor Chang were arrested and placed in brutal re-education labor camps. Pastor Chang had served three different sentences for serving Christ where in prison believers won more to Christ and sent them out upon their release to evangelize new areas of China. Pastor Chang had survived and watched the numbers of Christian believers multiply dramatically. Like the Apostle Paul, Pastor Chang had learned to be content regardless of his circumstances, within or without prison, he preached the same gospel and discipled believers. In fact he had devoted his life to mentoring and training younger leaders, just as Paul did Timothy. The other six men in the apartment, ranging from their twenties to their forties, were his protégés, his Timothys. He had led them to Christ and discipled them over the years. Pastor Chang's joy was obvious as he talked for two days about his own life and celebrated the ways his life had intersected with the other leaders in the room, story after story of God's faithfulness. Even more important was his demeanor as his Timothys told their testimonies. The old man squatted in the corner of the room, eyes closed, listening, sometimes humming a Chinese praise song, smiling in satisfaction as his young friends spoke of God's faithfulness. This old man, only a few days out of prison, without a penny to his name, owning nothing but the clothes on his back and one extra pair of underwear, with no home to return to, and no surviving family to take him in. e. His plan? Live the rest of his life like a New Testament apostle, traveling the land and visiting one house church after another, encouraging believers in their faith, trusting the Lord for provision, until he was re-arrested and imprisoned again. By any standard, Pastor Chang had lived a hard life, with nothing tangible to show for his labor. Still, he was content, filled with a spirit of peace, more aware of the joy of living than anyone Nik had ever met. Now guys, that is a life of humility. He wasn't jealous or taking the credit for his investment in those young leaders' lives or trying to control them. He was abiding in the Presence, thankful for the opportunity to be a servant. f. APPLICATION: A humble person can see God's hand working in another's life and applaud it. They know that joy comes from being obedient, not getting glory (John 3:27-29). But how do you really do it? How do we gain the largeness of mind of John? By intercessory prayer. Yes, that's it. William Law, whose book on discipleship mentored John and Charles Wesley, says positively that it is impossible to harbor animosity or jealousy toward one for whom we keep interceding before God. If, William Law writes from experience, someone is leaving you behind, and you are becoming jealous and embittered, keep praying that he may have success in the very matter where he is making you envious, and whether God answers that prayer or not, one thing is sure, your own soul will be cleansed and ennobled, and you will grow a little nearer to the stature of the Baptist. g. John 3:30 The importance of John's ministry is only in opening the way for the fuller and eternal work of Jesus. h. APPLICATION: Jesus cannot increase in ability or authority or deity. He has and is all that for all time. What must increase is our vision of His Greatness! Many people see Christ at a distance, like a light at the end of a tunnel. The closer we get to Christ, the more light we have, the bigger He seems. He hasn't changed, we simply know His Glory more fully. How do you see Jesus? Is He a far-off light? Or does His nearness fill your whole view? 3. HUMILITY PRIORITIZES JESUS OVER SELF (John 3:31-36) a. In verses 31-36, some translations have John the Baptist quoted, some do not. Regardless, the words summarize for John the writer the theme of Nicodemus' interview, and we see shades of John 1 in this summation. The one who comes from above is Christ, confirming the nature of His work. Eternal life and wrath are now connected with a relationship with Jesus (cf. Rom 1:18). b. ILLUSTRATION: C.S. Lewis said, "Humility is not thinking less of yourself. It is thinking of yourself less." Commentator A.W. Pink said, "The more I am occupied with Christ, the less shall I be occupied with myself." Water always fills the lowest places first. The lower, the emptier a man lies before God, the faster and the fuller will be the inflow and the overflow of the Presence of God in your life." c. APPLICATION: A humble person calls attention to the priority of Christ, not self (John 3:31-36). John called himself the friend of the bridegroom. He had the grace and humility to step out of the way at the right time because he realized who the real Star of the show was. We are most humble when we focus on Christ first and central and highest in our life, above self. You can't make yourself humble, in fact, you call attention to yourself if you try. But when you focus on Christ and others above self, humility supernaturally occurs. The question, then, is not "How can I humble myself?" but "How can I occupy myself with Christ?" Giving Jesus first place in your life – what does that mean for you? Is there something you should stop doing? Is there something you need to start doing so that Christ and increase and you can decrease? What are your biggest struggles in relinquishing control to the Lord? Perhaps that is something you need to commit right now to eliminate or decrease so that He may increase. d. Andrew Murray says in his little book of dynamite called Humility, "The truth is this: Pride must die in you or nothing of heaven can live in you. Under the banner of the truth, give yourself up to the meek and humble spirit of the holy Jesus. Humility must sow the seed or there can be no reaping in heaven." Invitation: John gives a strong altar call or invitation to respond in John 3:36, a strong one that would jolt even the most apathetic off the fence. Have you given Jesus first place in your life? Each individual's response to Christ has consequences. What is your response? Have you confessed your sin and submitted your life to His Lordship, His control, His rulership? Sources: Tokunboh Adeyemo, gen. ed., Africa Bible Commentary, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2006), 1258-9. Clinton E. Arnold, gen. ed., "John," Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002), 2:39-41. F.F. Bruce, gen. ed., The International Bible Commentary, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1986), 1239-40. George Arthur Buttrick, gen. ed., The Interpreter's Bible, Vol. 8 (Nashville: Abingdon, 1952), 8:514-518. Craig Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament (Downers Grove: Intervarsity, 1993), 271. William Law, A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life (London: G.F. Browne & Co., n.d.), xxi. Herbert Lockyer, All the Men of the Bible, 195-6. Dwight J. Pentecost, The Words and Works of Jesus Christ (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1981), 128-130. Nik Ripken, The Insanity of Obedience (Nashville, TN: B&H Books, 2013), 217-222. Charles R. Swindoll, John the Baptizer (Anaheim, CA: Insight for Living, 1991), 20-28. Charles R. Swindoll, A Study of John 1-5 (Anaheim, CA: Insight for Living, 1995), (49-54). References/Notes  Augustine of Hippo was once asked, "What is the first thing in religion?" "Humility." "The second?" "Humility." "The third?" Humility." "That which first overcame man, [Pride] is the last thing he ever overcomes." Humility is a special product of Christianity. The whole Roman language, with all the improvements of the Augustan age, does not afford so much as a word for humility; nor was one found in all the copious language of the Greeks, until the Apostle Paul created it. Andrew Murray: "Humility, the place of entire dependence on God, is, from the very nature of things, the first duty and the highest virtue of man. It is the root of every virtue. And so pride, or the loss of this humility, is the root of every sin and evil." Humility, p. 10.  ABC, 1258.  Nik Ripken, The Insanity of Obedience (Nashville, TN: B&H Books, 2013), 217-222.  William Law, A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life (London: G.F. Browne & Co., n.d.), chapter xxi.  Andrew Murray, Humility
by Brian EvansGospel: John 3:22-36 Primary Truth Taught - The greatest joy people can experience is to lift up Jesus and humble themselves. Introduction Jesus and His followers have left Nicodemus to contemplate all that Jesus taught him. Our story moves now to the Judean countryside where there seems to be something a little odd. John the Baptist and his disciples are baptizing and Jesus and His disciples are baptizing. To those who are watching is seems to them almost like a contest. To onlookers in Jesus' day it seemed that this was what was going on in and around the Judean countryside. It's as if John the Baptist and his disciples were on one side of the river and Jesus and His disciples on the other. To the Jews who just understood baptism as a ceremonial washing for purification really didn't know what was going on. I want to make a preliminary point here and that is Jesus was not actually doing the baptizing but it was His followers. This is made clear by 4:2…John 4:1–2 (ESV)
4 Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John 2 (although Jesus himself did not baptize, but only his disciples),The first part of today's text is introductory material and I don't want to spend too much time on it. John is simply stating the context and then the cause of the remarks made by John the Baptist. John 3:22–26 (ESV)
22 After this Jesus and his disciples went into the Judean countryside, and he remained there with them and was baptizing. 23 John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because water was plentiful there, and people were coming and being baptized 24 (for John had not yet been put in prison).25 Now a discussion arose between some of John's disciples and a Jew over purification. 26 And they came to John and said to him, "Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness—look, he is baptizing, and all are going to him."The real issue isn't over what the Jews believed about purification. Many scholars get sidetracked here. John really never even answers the question directly. John 3:27–36 (ESV)
27 John answered, "A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. 28 You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.' 29 The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom's voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease."31 He who comes from above is above all. He who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks in an earthly way. He who comes from heaven is above all. 32 He bears witness to what he has seen and heard, yet no one receives his testimony. 33 Whoever receives his testimony sets his seal to this, that God is true. 34 For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. 35 The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.Disciples are leaving John to follow Jesus Look, he is baptizing, and all are going to him." The Jews had it all wrong. Jesus and John are not in a baptism contest. John has been getting his disciples ready to follow Jesus so it's a natural transition from John to Jesus. What does appear in verses 27–30 is that John the Baptist takes the conversation in a direction that seems to have nothing to do with purification and everything to do with who Jesus is (as the bridegroom) and who John is (as the friend of the bridegroom) and what's happening in their ministries (as the bride leaves John and goes to the bridegroom)—and especially how John responds to all this in his heart. So, Jesus is winning the baptism and discipleship contest and notice, John the Baptist is thrilled. This is why God appointed him in the first place, to get people ready to meet Jesus. This is why he was baptizing and why his baptism was called a baptism of repentance. This is why he was the one to first introduce Jesus to the world. Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world… The Joy in Glorifying Christ
27 John answered, "A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. 28 You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.' 29 The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom's voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease."If we are to understand verses 27-28 we must see it as a way John is simply saying that God gives wonderful gifts and one of the greatest gifts is to transfer any praise that John would receive to Jesus. John does this by saying I am not… Remember from weeks ago when we covered the first chapter and saw how John said… We have heard this theme before. John 1:8: He is not the light.
John 1:20: He is not the Christ.
John 1:21: He is not Elijah and not the prophet.
John 1:23: He is just a voice crying in the wilderness.
John 1:27: He is not worthy to unstrap Jesus' sandals. And lots more. John has humbled himself and exalted Christ already. Why does the writer bring him in again right here to do this again - humble himself and exalt Jesus?  I want us to see together what John's role is. We know from Chapter one that his role was to be the one to get the people ready for Jesus. He was going to in a sense make the highway straight for Jesus. Here, we see another aspect of John's role. John explains his role by telling a parable of the Bridegroom and the Bridegroom's friend. In ancient Jewish tradition when a wedding took place there was the Friend of the Bridegroom. Now in some ways this would be the best man of today's weddings. However, back in the days of Jesus and John, the friend of the bridegroom didn't just stand there smiling but had a big responsibility. He had to make all the preparations, get the people ready for the wedding…see John's role? He was getting people ready for the wedding. The friend of the Bridegroom also had the privilege of presiding over the wedding. He was the one, as it were, who joined the hands of the bride and the Bridegroom. I pray we see this in John. Isn't that exactly what he did? His job was to prepare everyone for the wedding and to announce the Bridegroom's presence and place the hand of the bride into the hand of the Bridegroom. When John did this, as the friend of the Bridegroom, nothing made him any happier than to see Jesus and His bride together. The friend who attends the bridegroom, the ancient equivalent of a best man who organized the details and presided over a Judean wedding.  The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom's voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. John says that when he witnesses the bride and the Bridegroom together that there is no greater joy. I hope we see then that John and Jesus were not in some sort of competition. When John's disciples began to leave him to go be with the Bridegroom, John was overwhelmed with joy. That's why he said, 30 "He must increase, but I must decrease." What is meant here is that Jesus must receive all the glory and John must be humbled. Humility for John and glory for Jesus was what brought John abounding joy. This joy, John realized, came from heaven as a gift to him. All the attention is now focused on the Bridegroom and His bride. The best man is simply sitting in the pew smiling as the newly-weds receive the focus. The best man is overjoyed because all he's worked so hard for is completed. His task is over the wedding has taken place and it went without a hitch. Once the best man steps down from the platform everyone forgets him because he is decreasing while the newly weds increase.
rejoices greatly at the bridegroom's voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete.We see that John rejoices greatly and that his joy is complete. In other words, there is nothing imaginable that could add to John's great joy. When he saw Jesus gathering followers, John was jumping for joy. John's mission in life was to point people to Christ; to make His highway straight; to introduce Israel to her Messiah. As he did this Jesus was glorified. In order to do this effectively John had to subordinate himself, he had to humble himself more and more. The dynamic at work was that John started before Jesus and John's fame was growing. Most today would find joy in that. However, John's desire was that his fame would be passed to Jesus and that all who followed John would begin to follow Jesus. Do you think that our role is somewhat similar to John's? I think so. We too must never draw attention to ourselves. We must always practice humility while building up our Lord, praising Him rather than seeking praise for ourselves. Are you decreasing while Jesus is increasing? Are you nothing more than a voice as John called himself…a voice crying in the wilderness. I want to tell you John's secret. If you have ever thought that fortune and fame would bring you happiness, let's take a minute and learn from John. What he tells us is that his happiness and joy is at its fullest and richest when he is humbling himself and maximizing Jesus. If you think fortune and fame will make you happy, you've been taken by the world's scam. There have been many studies done showing that almost across the board lottery winners end up in misery. The divorce rate is four times higher than the national avg. Bankruptcy, suicide, murder, is also higher. If you live through it and your family lives through it, chances are you'll die broke and unhappy. These things are what happen when we think like the world and seek to exalt ourselves. Instead, John tells us that when Jesus is increased our joy is increased. Conversely, however, when we are increased our joy is decreased. So, let's allow John the Baptist to teach us his secret of joy and happiness. When Jesus is most glorified in our lives, we are most joyful. The Logic of Glorifying Christ
31 He who comes from above is above all. He who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks in an earthly way. He who comes from heaven is above all. 32 He bears witness to what he has seen and heard, yet no one receives his testimony. 33 Whoever receives his testimony sets his seal to this, that God is true. 34 For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. 35 The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.John wants us to see today that not only will we discover abounding joy as we focus on and honor our Lord but also it makes good sense. Let's look to John's logic… John very quickly answers the question, why should we glorify Christ? A. Jesus Christ is Glorified Because He is above all
31 He who comes from above is above all. He who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks in an earthly way. He who comes from heaven is above all.John the Baptist makes a clear distinction, Jesus came from above. He came from the Father. He also came with the Words of the Father. He is to be highly exalted because He alone is from above. Have you honored Jesus because He is far above you? B. Jesus Christ is Glorified Because His Testimony is True
32 He bears witness to what he has seen and heard, yet no one receives his testimony. 33 Whoever receives his testimony sets his seal to this, that God is true.I am worn out by the lies we hear in the political arena. Depending on the polls or what is perceived to get the candidate the most votes, they'll say anything at any time. They lie over and over again. I cannot say this across the board but except for the rare politician they all are liars. The line in a movie says that when they're not kissing babies they're stealing their lollipops is very accurate. We should be very skeptical when a politician says anything. I want to explain something to you. Whenever you hear a lying politician let that remind you of our King who never lies. Whatever Jesus said in the Bible is absolutely 100% trustworthy. Someday when our Lord returns we will be under a monarch system of government. We will be under a King's authority. To have a perfect sinless King leading us is by far the best form of government the world will ever see. King Jesus tells us the very Words of God.
John 1:14 (ESV)Have you honored Jesus because He has told you the truth? C. Jesus Christ is Glorified Because He Gives Us the Holy Spirit
33 Whoever receives his testimony sets his seal to this, that God is true. 34 For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure.These two verse seem at first not to really go together. But I want to show you that when we realize why Jesus sends the Holy Spirit the meaning of these verses become clear. First, Jesus did not send the Holy Spirit to us for us. This is where most people get it wrong. They seek more and more of the Holy Spirit so that they can do more things so they will get the attention. The reality is that Jesus gives us the Holy Spirit in full measure for the purpose of glorifying Him.
John 16:12–14 (ESV)Holy Spirit will glorify Jesus. Now when the One whose job it is to glorify Jesus is sent to us and dwells within us His mission is expanded so that we too begin to glorify Jesus. One of the ways we do this is to believe the Words Jesus has told us…
14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.The gift of the Holy Spirit is to equip the believer to understand, believe and obey the Words of Christ and this is one way we honor our Lord and Savior. Remember it is about Him. We must decrease and Jesus must increase. D. Jesus Christ is Glorified Because He Gives Us Eternal Life
35 The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.I want us to be blown away by this last section. Notice what is going on here… The Father loves the Son in ways we could never imagine. Because of this great love for the Son He has placed all things in His hands. This is why when we look at the Bible we must take it in context…Because Jesus has been given all things and His greatest gift to His Father is to rule well and to cooperate with the Father in acquiring a Kingdom, Jesus gives us the Holy Spirit to us so that we will be His people and bring glory to Him so that the Father's plan for His Son is accomplished. The greatest way Jesus can honor His Father is to give us the Holy Spirit so we can honor Jesus. The greatest way we can honor Jesus is to do so for all eternity. 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; Do you see that even our eternal salvation really isn't for us so much but it is for Jesus? We believe in Him, He is glorified and we are given eternal life. I think John the Baptist had this whole thing figured out… The Intense Joy of Exalting Christ and Humbling Yourself The best thing you can do for the good of your soul, for your abounding joy, and for Your Savior is to exalt Jesus and humble yourself. Ask yourself this question often…Is Jesus increasing and am I decreasing? If the answer is yes you will have joy. If the answer is no they your life will be incomplete and undone and you will not find happiness. Declaration of Grace In the mercy and grace of Almighty God, Jesus Christ was given to die for us, and for His sake God forgives us all our sins. To those who believe in Jesus Christ He gives the power to become the children of God and gives to them the Holy Spirit. May the Lord, who has begun this good work in us, bring it to completion in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen References:  Sermon by John Piper on John 3:22-30  Sermon by John Piper on John 3:22-30  The Gospel According to John by D A Carson 211
by JorgeIn the second half of John chapter 3, not only do we see John share the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but we also see John the Baptist humbly reminding his disciples of who he is and who Jesus is. John 3:22-30 (ESV)
22 After this Jesus and his disciples went into the Judean countryside, and he remained there with them and was baptizing. 23 John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because water was plentiful there, and people were coming and being baptized 24 (for John had not yet been put in prison).25 Now a discussion arose between some of John's disciples and a Jew over purification. 26 And they came to John and said to him, "Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness - look, he is baptizing, and all are going to him." 27 John answered, "A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. 28 You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, 'I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.' 29 The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom's voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease."It is so easy to forget your place in God's plan, especially for those with a special calling. John the Baptist was filled with the Holy Spirit from the time he was in his mother's womb. Even before birth he bore witness to the as yet unborn Jesus Christ in Mary's womb. John didn't just decrease to a secondary position, he knew that he had to decrease and step away from the limelight completely. The bridegroom had arrived, and his job was fulfilled. That isn't easy… it takes humility to accept that your job is over, and you will no longer take part. Notice that John the Baptist didn't transition into being a Disciple or Apostle of Jesus Christ. He continued proclaiming the Kingdom of Heaven and pointing to Jesus as the Christ, as was his calling. Since John notes in verse 24 that this was before John was put into prison, let us look to when John sent word to Jesus asking for confirmation. For indeed, John was a man and needed encouragement for his time was drawing short. Matthew 11:1-6 (ESV)
11 When Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in their cities.2 Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples 3 and said to him, "Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?" 4 And Jesus answered them, "Go and tell John what you hear and see: 5 the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. 6 And blessed is the one who is not offended by me."Very simply, he encourages John's messenger to report to John as a witness of Jesus, the Promised Messiah. Notice the encouragement at the end… blessed is the one who is not offended by me. John undoubtedly took great encouragement in both knowing he had served his purpose and calling, and knowing that many are blessed. Notice what happens next in Matthew… Jesus testifies of John. Matthew 11:7-19 (ESV)
7 As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: "What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? 8 What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who wear soft clothing are in kings' houses. 9 What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10 This is he of whom it is written,"'Behold, I send my messenger before your face,John the Baptist was more than a prophet, he was God's messenger sent to prepare the way of God the Son, Jesus the Christ. John the Baptist will die at the hand of Herod (the kingdom suffering violence) before the cross. Peter later understood this truth and shared it in his epistle: 1 Peter 1:10-12 (ESV)
10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, 11 inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. 12 It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.Which brings us back around to John 3, resuming in verse 31: John 3:31-36 (ESV)
31 He who comes from above is above all. He who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks in an earthly way. He who comes from heaven is above all. 32 He bears witness to what he has seen and heard, yet no one receives his testimony. 33 Whoever receives his testimony sets his seal to this, that God is true. 34 For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. 35 The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.John the Baptist pointed to Jesus as the Christ. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life. Whoever receives His testimony declares that God is true. Notice that whoever does not obey the son doesn't get a fresh punishment; rather, the wrath of God remains on him. Remember that we are all born in the sin of Adam, and are therefore deserving of the wrath of God as punishment for sin. We don't start out in some "neutral state", we are born sinners. Death is our inheritance from Adam. But by the Grace of God, who sent His Son (the Word of God made flesh) to fulfill the law and the prophets and bear the full price of sin on His shoulders, so that all who believe can find forgiveness and eternal life. I pray the Lord bless you and keep you. Source: Faithful Stewardship
Volume 4 No 242: October 17, 2014
Volume 3 No 179: November 21 2013
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