As I coach, I am constantly asking the Lord how He can use me to add value to people’s lives and help them grow in the areas God is pointing out in their lives. As i have sought the Lord in this, I have been encouraged that even these devotionals can be used to do that. So, I am changing the format a little. I will continue to share what I believe God is saying to me, and what He is leading me to do about it, but I will also be asking more questions for you to consider what God is saying to you, and what He is telling you to be doing about it. I am praying these will continue to add value to your lives and help you to grow in the things God points out to you from His Word.
The Passage: John 1:19-34
A delegation from the Sanhedrin had already completed the first phase of their inquiry. (Matt 3:7-10) They had come, not to be baptized, but to be at his baptism, to observe. By their observation, and the report they brought back, the Sanhedrin had concluded John was a making credible messianic claims.
A second delegation had now come to interrogate. This was the second stage of their investigation. “Who are you?” They asked;
- Are you the Messiah? He denied being the Messiah. (Jn 1:20)
- Are you Elijah? He denied being Elijah (Jn 1:21)
- Are you the prophet of spoken of Deut 18:15-18? He denied being the prophet (Jn 1:21).
As John denied each, they became insistent that he give them an answer to who he was. They said, “We need to give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” (John 1:22)
When they continued to press him, he answered them by quoting Isaiah 40:3, “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord.” This was a clear claim to being the Messiah’s forerunner, the herald of the King.
John had already baptized Jesus. He had seen the fulfillment of what the Spirit had told him would happen to the one he was to proclaim. (John 1:32-34) But, this delegation had not seen Jesus’ baptism, nor did they know who Jesus was yet. So, John declared to them, “I baptize in water: in the midst of you stands one whom ye know not, <even> he that comes after me, the latchet of whose shoe I am not worthy to unloose (Jn. 1:26-27). John was declaring to this delegation that the Messiah was already present. He is here! I am telling you the one you are looking for is here!
I can imagine the stir that would have caused among the delegation as they took that message back to Jerusalem.
The next day, after the delegation had had left, Jesus came walking up to where John was baptizing and preaching. As John saw Jesus, he announced for all to hear, “Behold, the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” When Jesus came to be baptized, John had not made any deceleration regarding Jesus. But now, afterwards, having seen the Spirit descend on Him, He excitedly proclaimed who Jesus was! John reviewed some of the things he had been saying. Remember what I told you?
- “After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.” (Jn 1:30) Well, here he is!
- I only baptize with water, but He is going to baptize with the Holy Spirit. (Jn 1:26) I am nothing. He is so much greater! He is the real thing.
- This is the whole reason why I am out here baptizing. (Jn 1:33) I have been telling you guys to get ready, because one of these days I am going to reveal who He is. I am telling you, this is the guy! Here is your Messiah.
- I was told that the Messiah would be the one “on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain.” (Jn 1:32) When I baptized Jesus, that is exactly what I saw! I saw God the Spirit descend on Him. I baptize you with water to prepare you for his arrival. He will baptize you and fill you with the Holy Spirit!
John 1:34 And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”
- What was God doing? Why did He have this written down?
John was having a very successful ministry. He was well known. People came from all over. He had created quite a stir among the religious leaders in Jerusalem, so much that they sent at least 2 delegations out to witness what he was doing. But, he always kept the right perspective. He told the religious leaders, “I am not the Messiah.. I am not Elijah… I am not the prophet… I am just the one who preaches in the wilderness, the one preparing the way for the Messiah.”
John always knew that the whole purpose of why he had been sent was to reveal the Messiah to the world! The success of His ministry was contingent on how well He revealed who Jesus was. John’s whole life and ministry was nothing without Jesus. When Jesus came on the scene John directed everyone’s focus to Jesus and off Himself.
- What can I learn from this?
- What is God saying to me and my life from this passage?
Here’s a few things I feel God is saying to me:
- No matter how popular or seemingly successful my ministry is, I can never forget why I have been sent. I need to not strive for people’s approval, but should always strive to reveal Jesus!
- The success of my ministry is only to the degree in which Jesus is seen. John’s ministry was nothing without Jesus. As Ian Thomas says, “obtaining righteousness from a man or woman happens only when that person is filled with God. Christianity without Christ is like a lamp without oil, or a car without gas. It takes God to be a man, and that is why it takes Christ to be a Christian, because Christ puts God back into a man, the only way we can again become functional.”
- When Jesus shows up, I need to be quick to identify Him and declare who He is and what I am seeing Him do.
- Personally, my job also is to continue to remind my students, it’s only as Jesus is seen through them that people will be drawn to behold and adore Jesus.
What is God saying to you?
- For my church planting students, the success of a church will be determined by the degree in which Jesus is seen and evident. My students ministry is dependent on them recognizing they are like John… “I came that He might be revealed!”
- When Jesus came, John told people, “Behold, the lamb.” John had the privilege of being able to introduce Jesus to people in the flesh. I can’t imagine how awesome that would have been. But, for us, we have a similar privilege. Being God’s image bearers, and the holder of His message, we too should be inviting people to behold Him and to adore Him because of what they see. He is the lamb who is going to take away your sin!
The Power; Awareness and/or Engagement
The power to change is in the implementation. We can talk all we want, make lots of plans, but until we do something about it, we will never change. John Maxwell calls this the timing gap. “The longer you wait to something you know you should do now, the greater the odds you will never do it.” So, what do I need to become more aware of, and/or how does God want me to engage with what He is saying to me in this passage? As I ask these questions of myself, I invite you to ask yourself these questions also.
What do I need to explore more so I can grow in awareness of what God is saying to me?
- Can people behold Jesus through me, and will they adore Him because of what they see?
- Does my life and ministry reveal Jesus? What hinders Jesus from being revealed by my life?
- Do I have a humble spirit like John? Am I focused on my own name/reputation/popularity, or on revealing Jesus?
How does God want me to engage with this? What does He want me to do because of what He is saying here?
- I am sent to reveal Jesus. God wants to use my writing, my speaking and my living to do that. Who needs to hear this message from me today?
- How can I invite people to behold the lamb through my speech and my life today? I need to share what I learning when i have conversations with people today.
- When do I need to share? In class this afternoon. Tonight when we meet with a student couple.
- How do I need to deny myself so that Christ can be revealed? I need to be available to interact with students, even if I am busy with something else. I need take time to stop what i am doing to go a visit a student this morning.
What is your plan for growth today?