In my previous post, I introduced you to John the Baptist.
John 1:6 NASB There came a man sent from God, whose name was John.
In exploring the ramifications of who John was and was not, I opened the possibility that we too are the called designated witnesses sent by God. As we progress, forward we have to sort between the religious definition and what scripture calls us to testify of.
I grew up in church, but there was a time when my father decided that we needed to chase the charismatic movement around the valley and that removed us from the church I grew up in. I want to say that I do not regret that for a moment, but, it took me away from the kids I had grown up with. Our return to that same church was, at best, strained. I tried to fit in. There were new people, and most of us had transitioned to college. Many of my old friends were gone, and I never saw them again. Out of this, there were mandatory treks into the nearby neighborhoods to “win the lost.” I often wondered who decided they were lost. We were met on several occasions with less than enthusiastic responses, two of them were outright hostile. I think much of that hostility was a reaction to the "canned" responses we used and the fact the church had effectively done a hostile takeover of homes where senior citizens lived with nowhere else to go. These exercises convinced me, beyond all doubt, that evangelism is not my calling.
I get the general idea, we are called to spread the good news, then what is it that we are to spread. Certainly, it is not the religious tripe often forced down our throats. Without defining it as yet, I did and do what I am comfortable with, I “preach” what I am studying in the Word and what I believe. Most of these things have been learned because of tough times that have driven me to the Word of God and a desire to find His nature and character. To be honest, I struggle with the possibility that I am supposed to act just like someone like Pastor Greg Laurie, but as much as I try, I fail horrendously. Successes, if I can call them that, have come from me being me and the moments when I have listened to the Holy Spirit, saying things that seemed at the time to be totally random.
That being said, let's dive into John 1:7-13.
John 1:7-13 NASB He came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe through him. 8) He was not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light. 9) There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. 10) He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11) He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. 12) But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, 13) who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
- “He came as a witness, to testify about the Light,”Because, as we saw, God sent him. But, to what was John, a witness?Three of the gospels record that John the Baptist saw the Spirit descending upon Him.
- Matthew 3:16 After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him,
- Mark 1:10 Immediately coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens opening, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him;
- John 1:32 John testified saying, "I have seen the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and He remained upon Him.
However, John himself told us,"I did not recognize Him, but He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, 'He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.'” John 1:33 NASBSo, John puts several things together:
- God spoke to Him (we are out of the loop on what that looked like.)And
- Told him that he (John) would see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Jesus.
That is typical of how God has spoken and confirmed his message to me, He speaks to your heart and then shows you.
Now, if I were hoping that you would tell people about me, this would be significant. Why? Because I had showed myself to be trustworthy and you had experienced my nature and character. If there something that was of the utmost importance, it would be the last two things.
The Apostle John knew John the Baptist too well. We have every reason to believe that the disciple John had first been a disciple of John the Baptist. If I, as John did, were to tell a story about the beginnings of creation, what would be the foremost thing I want to convey?
- That God was trustworthy
- that He speaks and then follows through.
- Therefore his nature and character are valid and genuine.
- Finally, that He is the Messiah that we have been looking for, and His actions have proved that to be the case.
- " so that all might believe through him.”
God told and showed John the Baptist these things for the purpose of giving witness to Jesus.
- The first evidence John renders is the substantiation of who Jesus was – the Messiah.With the testimony of John The Baptist, this was verified in two ways, just as scripture prescribes; this evidence is precisely what the religious Jews are looking for. They could care less about flashy clothes and neon lights, much like some television personalities, but what they are looking for is solid repeatable patterns. This sane description of prophecy is what John the Baptist testified of, and, how the Apostle John opens his gospel.
Now wait a minute.
I have spoken as though this message was directed exclusively to a limited audience, a Jewish one, and that was true for an extended period. Spend any time in the Word, and you will realize that by the time the Holy Spirit had John write this open letter to (Jewish) believers, God, had moved on Paul to take this same message (with a different spin on it,) to the Gentiles.
We are not moving another step forward until we dispense with an aspect of our biased Western mentality. We, here in America, are not the Gentiles (we seem to say that with some perverse pride as though we are now the exclusive recipients of God's mercy.) We are merely a subset of the nations, and, as you might recall from your Bible reading, that the nations were always one of the prime entities that brought Israel to its knees; that and the idea that they could manage this thing called life without God. So the term Gentile was meant to convey anyone outside Judaism (observance of the Mosaic Law,) and therefore a non-believer, a person without hope for a future. Move a few years forward, and the definition has changed slightly and is now pointing to those who have no relationship with Jesus Christ. No, I will not hold to a tight definition here, for I cannot see the heart. It is evident to me, that God, having things under a manner of control, that I do not understand, brings people to him, then allows them to meander for undefined periods of time, only to continue to draw them close to Him. I can't explain this as anything other than love, and that is who He is.
Can we agree that John the Baptist did not directly bring the gospel to the world? However, the overall impact of what he heard, saw with his own two eyes and shared was felt by the world, even if that was not his personal intent. I think it is safe to safe to assume that this statement, “that all might believe through him,” was God's plan all along. An honest look at scripture affirms that the disciples spoke to none but their own, there were exceptions, such as Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch, or Paul's decision to finally take the message to the Gentiles, instead of the brutal savages Paul would find in the synagogues.
- “He was not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light.”John the Baptist was not the Light, but as I just discussed, he was sent to testify about the Light. Imagine the day Jesus asked him to baptize him. God, asked a man to baptize him.
- 9) “There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. 10) He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11) He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him.”This section is decisively speaking about Jesus the Messiah, but perhaps a brief look at a translation other than the NASB will make it clearer.John 1:9 GNB This was the real light---the light that comes into the world and shines on all people.What's the problem with that? The answer lies in verses 10, 11.
Worse yet, “He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him.” You might expect that those who had the promise, given by prophetic word, through dreams and visions, and held to the heart by oral tradition, would have recognized the Messiah. If that seems like a stretch, then consider when Jesus was born. Magi, from another country, possibly trained under the tutelage of Daniel, came because they had seen His star. Herod questioned the chief priests who admitted to a knowledge of Jesus birth. This ignorance of who Jesus was demonstrates an intentional ignorance.What's your excuse?
- He was in the world,
- “and the world was made through Him,
- “..the world did not know Him.