The Sixth in a Series of Sermons on the Gospel of John
God sent John the Baptist to bear witness to Israel about the one coming after him–the word become flesh and Israel’s Messiah. John has faithfully fulfilled his mission which now comes to an end when John identifies Jesus as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” The crowds which had come to hear John and receive his baptism will now be introduced to that one greater than John, that one about whom John had been speaking. There is no more need to for John to “prepare the way,” because the way, the truth, and the life, has now come. The messianic ministry of Jesus is about to begin.
We continue to work our way through the Gospel of John. Last week we spent our time in verses 19-28 of John chapter 1, discussing the significant role which John the Baptist plays in redemptive history. The Baptist has been sent by God to give testimony (“bearing witness”) about the one who was coming after him–Jesus, the Messiah. In the prologue of his gospel (vv. 6-8), John the Disciple (and the author of this Gospel) introduced us to John the Baptist as follows. “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.” The Baptist has been sent by God to bear witness about that one coming after him, Jesus Christ, the word become flesh. From the prologue we know that John the Baptist is herald (forerunner) of the Messiah, and that when the Baptist appears out in the wilderness to bear witness about the light shining in the darkness, we know that Israel’s Messiah is about to be revealed.
John the Disciple has not only told us about John the Baptist in his prologue, he has also told us about the word become flesh (logos). John has told us that the eternal word was with God in the beginning, indicating that Jesus is God, and he is a distinct person from the father (and therefore, the second person of the Holy Trinity). The Disciple also tells us that the word is “the true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” Jesus is the word become flesh (in his incarnation), who did so to save us from our sins (John’s metaphor for our sinfulness is darkness) and to grant us authority to become children of God–something we cannot do by natural means (either our birth or an act of our wills). To be a child of God requires the new birth, and a new creation every bit as supernatural as that moment when God spoke and created the world. Yet, when Jesus came bringing light (grace and truth) to his own people, sadly they either did not know him, or else they rejected him.
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