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John: Man's Man God's Man
Message #1 of John: A Story to Believe - Pastor Jeff MacLurg, Our Savior's Baptist Church, Federal Way, Wash., 03/06/11 (My notes, thoughts and observations from attending the 9 and 10:45 services, I pray they will be useful and accurate)
In a San Diego courtroom, an eyewitness was being questioned by the prosecutor. "Were you present when the bank was robbed?"
"How did the bank robbers leave the area?"
"In a red car."
"How many were there?"
In a booming voice, the prosecutor thundered "And are those two men in the courtroom right now?"
Without thinking, the two defendants meekly rose their hands.
When multiple eyewitnesses recount the same story, it's a pretty good chance they are telling the truth. Now... If the person or thing being witnessed to is also available to support the testimony, it's a good chance it's true.
John's book is written as the simplest of Greek. But it's been described as so shallow a child could wade in and yet so deep an elephant could dive into it.
Discarded Series Titles:
- John: The Simplest and Deepest Gospel
- John: The Deep End of the Gospel
- John: The Tell-All Gospel
- John: The Jesus-through-the-eyes-of-his-best-friend Gospel
John, the Writing
1:1-18 - Prologue Concerning Christ (previously covered last fall)
1:19-12:50 - Public Proclamation by Christ
13-17 - Private Instruction by Christ
18-21 - Public Proof ofChrist
John's Reason for Writing: John 20:30-31
Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
John's key words:
* SIGNS - miracle done by Jesus - signposts that point to Jesus as the Messiah - that he is who he claimed to be - a spotlight
* BELIEVE - virtually the same as "faith" in Greek - occurrence of those words: Matthew 20, Mark 21, Luke 22, John 82 times (Romans 51 times) - proof of why you can believe who Jesus is
At the time of his writing, they were under Roman rule. There had been plenty of false prophets who claimed they were from God and they weren't always immediately exposed, but they would incite rebellion. Religious leaders were exposed as hypocrites, scandalous. King Herod was oppressive and hated.
The Character of John the Baptizer (1:6-8, 15, 19-28)
1. He was a Man's man with a DISTURBING DEMEANOR. (A trouble-maker from day 1. You couldn't ignore him. Not just his attire, but also how he interacted with people. Not much of a diplomat. You always knew where he stood.)
2. He was a man of FORTHRIGHT TESTIMONY. (He said what they needed to hear when they needed to hear it, without pulling the punches. He said to the people coming to be baptized: "You brood of vipers..." imagine if Pastor Jeff said that when we came in on a Sunday morning. Or the fact that John told Herod right to his face that he was in the wrong marrying his brother's wife while his brother was still alive.)
witness = maturion (Greek) = martyr
(cp. Luke 3:7, 19-20)
Practical: There is no such spiritual gift as irritation, but there is the gift of discernment. Some people are just not diplomatic - listen anyway, maybe there's some truth in their words.)
3. He was God's man with GODLY AMBITION. ("Among men born of a woman, there is no equal." - Jesus (of John). He had the simple goal that the entire world would know because of his testimony.) (1:7).
4. He was not a man easily INTIMIDATED BY THE PRESSURES OF THIS WORLD. (John knew who he wasn't and who he was. The religious leaders came to ask him if he was the prophet (the messiah) because people were following him in good numbers and this could upset the status quo if they stopped following the religious leaders or led an uprising against Rome. They couldn't squeeze him into their mold, they wanted to make sure he wasn't starting another cult.) (1:19-23)
5. He was a man matched BY GOD FOR HIS DAY. (In his day, only Gentiles were baptized. But John was baptizing Jews to signal their intent to get right with God, to come into alignment with God. His baptisms were not to save but to prepare people for the coming of God in Christ.) (1:24-26).
6. He was a man of true HUMILITY BEFORE JESUS. (untying sandals and washing feet - even though John was a celebrity at this point, he said he was unfit to even do that lowest of the low tasks. Utterly humbled. No "Jesus is my bud." songs in those days.) (1:27).
Francis Chan realized one night "If Jesus also had a church in Simi Valley, mine would be bigger. People would leave Jesus' church to come to mine. Mine would make fewer demands on people. Mine would cater to people's desires." it was after this revelation that he stepped down from the church he was leading because he realized he was taking more of the attention, spotlight that truly should have been God's. (First service: Why am I tearing up right now? This is cool but have I missed something? Did I just hear something without hearing it? Second service: no such reaction. Bummer. If you read this, would you please pray I haven't missed something here?)
The Testimony of John the Baptizer (1:29-34)
1. Jesus is the true LAMB OF GOD. (1:29).
2. Jesus is the ETERNAL GOD OF THE AGES. (John was born first but John is saying that Jesus is greater than him because he existed before John.) (1:30-31).
3. Jesus gives the HOLY SPIRIT. (Baptism with water - outward statement; baptism with the Holy Spirit - internal empowerment to live for Jesus. God living inside you.)
4. Jesus Christ is the SON OF GOD. (Jesus' day - 'son of man' was more common phrase than 'human') (1:34).
To Take Away Today
1. Your GREATNESS is measured by your ability to PUT THE SPOTLIGHT ON JESUS. When you believe in Jesus, he begins to transform your life. When he begins that in you, you become great in his kingdom. It's not adding Christianity to your life, it's putting Jesus at the center.
In verse 30, John mentions in passing that he did interact with God in some kind of big experience. But he never makes a big deal of the experience or uses it to increase his own following, he only mentions it to explain why he was saying what he was saying. A church is never about the pastor, it is about Jesus. If a church becomes all about the pastor then the church is really sick. if this new building we're in glorifies the pastor/leadership on whose watch it got done, then we need to get some bulldozers.
2. You do not need to YIELD TO THE WORLD'S INTIMIDATION AND PRESSURES.
Be wise, Jesus says, but stand for who you stand for.
3. You are God's MAN/WOMAN SPECIALLY MATCHED BY GOD FOR THIS DAY.
You are here right here right now for God's purpose. No accidental births. And 99% of you know exactly what that is, but you're scared and are asking God if he's got a Plan B. (I actually bought a song last week called "No Plan B" on iTunes just because of the title. I was thinking about not having a "Plan B" - just putting everything in one plan - following God. But I've also heard it said that we are plan A for the world's salvation and that God doesn't have a plan b.)
Luke 7:28 - Jesus wants you to be great.