Pointing To Jesus | Wayne Massey
John the Baptist denies being the Messiah
19 Now this was John’s testimony when the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. 20 He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, ‘I am not the Messiah.’
21 They asked him, ‘Then who are you? Are you Elijah?’
He said, ‘I am not.’
‘Are you the Prophet?’
He answered, ‘No.’
22 Finally they said, ‘Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?’
23 John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, ‘I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, “Make straight the way for the Lord.”’
24 Now the Pharisees who had been sent 25 questioned him, ‘Why then do you baptise if you are not the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?’
26 ‘I baptise with water,’ John replied, ‘but among you stands one you do not know. 27 He is the one who comes after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.’
28 This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptising.
John testifies about Jesus
29 The next day John saw Jesus coming towards him and said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is the one I meant when I said, “A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.” 31 I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptising with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.’
32 Then John gave this testimony: ‘I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. 33 And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptise with water told me, “The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptise with the Holy Spirit.” 34 I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.’
Just as John the Baptist’s words pointed away from himself and to Jesus, so accepting the invitation to be a child of God will mean living a life that points to Jesus. How does this happen?
1.Ditching the labels. When they kept asking him who he was, John refused any labels that would detract from his message about the Messiah. Our identity is made up of lots of experiences, failures, successes, other people’s views of us…. It is like having Post-it notes stuck on us, which trap and define us. Accepting Jesus’ invitation to be a child of God can free us from the strength and undue influence (good and bad) of past experience and present expectations. The way to step into and live out our new identity, is above all through prayer and worship. As we focus on who Jesus is and how we live in him, as he fills us more and more, the rest simply overflows.
2.Clearing the rubble. John called on people to ‘prepare the way of the Lord’, through repentance for their sins and commitment to a life of holiness. It was an individual call, reminding people of Isaiah chapter 35 where he talks of ‘the Way of Holiness’ – a road for a holy people. This is a lifelong process, in which you learn to be the best you can be. It can only be done in relationship with other people, sharing difficulties with one another and helping each other to pursue holiness. B&A’s Little Churches are a great place for doing this.
3.Look up and see. When John saw Jesus coming towards him, he just knew this was the Messiah, the one they were all waiting for. We live the other side of the Cross and Pentecost: we know that Jesus has dealt with sin and that the Holy Spirit has been poured out with power for transformation. For us, it starts with surrendering ourselves to God who wins the battles of our lives. Rather than trying to sort ourselves out, we first need to praise and worship God and focus on him in stillness. Would you invite a famous architect to come and redesign your house, but then tell him how to do it? Obviously not! When you ask God to transform you from the inside, it makes sense to follow his lead.
Who is in charge of your identity? Is it you, or other people, or is it Jesus as he fills you with his life and removes the unhelpful Post-its little by little? People learn about God when they look at the life of Jesus and his death on the Cross. People will learn about Jesus through our lives as they are remodelled day by day and filled with his love.
The question Jesus is asking you today and every day is: ‘How far do you want to go with me?’