Kevin A. Pierpont
Higgins Lake Baptist Church
6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. 8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.
It is most obvious at Christmastime that the world rejects who Jesus is. It’s clear to see when people do all they can to remove Christ from Christmas. And when the world does recognize Christ it is often with a cute Nativity scene. Or not so cute. This week some of you saw in the news that even the Nativity scene is used to make little of the name of Jesus.
The Nativity scene revealed in London this week consisted of wax figures with Tony Blair, Prince Phillip and President Bush as wise men and Actors Hugh Grant, Samuel L. Jackson and comedian Graham Norton as shepherds.
It also features Kylie Minogue, a pop star well known for her revealing attire as the angel and representing Mary and Joseph are British pop star Victoria Beckham from the group Spice Girls and her husband David Beckham a soccer star.
A spokeswoman for the museum said the roles were cast after 300 visitors voted who should play each part and that the Nativity scene is meant to be satirical and funny and they're sorry if anyone was offended. 1
To their credit they did not have a current popular figure representing the baby Jesus but used a toy baby in the manger.
The world may want to deny who Jesus is. And they may believe they are just being funny when they make fun of the Nativity scene. But today as we examine the Word I want you to understand that we have a wonderful privilege and responsibility to be bearers of the message that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name (John 20:31). That is the Apostle John’s purpose in writing, and I want you to remember this throughout our study here in the Gospel of John.
As we arrive at verse 6 we’re introduced to John the Baptist. But the Apostle John doesn’t describe John the Baptizer as such. His intent isn’t to show us John the Baptizer but it is to show us John the witness. You might wonder why we’re introduced to John here. What’s the importance of introducing John at this point or at all? Why not finish introducing Jesus?
Let’s look at why this is important—it has to do with the way John the Baptist is described in verse 6-8.
A Man Sent By God
First we see that there was a man sent from God whose name was John. And this tells us two things about John—that he was a man and God sent him. That seems pretty basic doesn’t it? But these are important thoughts to consider.
John’s arrival was foretold, as was Jesus arrival. In Matthew 3:1-3 it says of John,
In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2 and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” 3 For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying: “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; Make His paths straight.’ ”
And though the Prophet Isaiah spoke of John, he is different in that he was a man and he was sent. Which means that John had a beginning and that makes him very different from the Word spoken of earlier in this chapter who existed before the beginning of creation, who spoke all things into existence.
We see that truth about the Word—this is Jesus—in John 1:1-3.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.
This describes Jesus. But John is different. He’s a man who was sent by God. In the beginning was the Word, in the beginning Jesus was there, he was there before the beginning and he spoke the beginning into existence.
But John was sent and John came after. And what I want you to see is that God chooses to send a witness into the world, a man of flesh and as such a sinner, a person with his own weaknesses and shortcomings and temptations to sin. But God chooses to send a human messenger.
God chooses and prepares people to be His messengers. God chooses to use people to spread the good news about the light, the truth.
But why was it necessary to send a messenger – couldn’t God have given the message by some other, even more believable method? If we took some time today to think it over we could probably come up with some very powerful ways for God to inform the world of the truth. If you were God wouldn’t you write the message indelibly on the sky or on the ocean? Better yet, if I were God, I’d have given everyone the ability to read at birth and then I’d have the truths of the scriptures constantly scrolling in front of their eyes like a teleprompter so they couldn’t help but see the truth. Or I’d have given everyone comprehension of speech at birth and had the voice of God speaking the truth to them throughout their lives, it would be the first and last and only thing they’d hear all day. (Like that music in the stores with hidden messages that tells you to buy stuff you don’t need.)
Kidding aside, there’s a basic problem with my fancy ways of delivering the truth. They wouldn’t have worked. There couldn’t have been a better delivery method than Jesus himself but weren’t there those who saw Jesus perform miracles and live an exemplary life and yet still not believe in Him? There were.
Warren Wiersbe puts it this way,
They saw His works and heard His words. They observed His perfect life. He gave them every opportunity to grasp the truth, believe, and be saved. Jesus is the way, but they would not walk with Him (John 6:66–71). He is the truth, but they would not believe Him (John 12:37ff). He is the life, and they crucified Him!
Why did the nation reject Jesus Christ? Because they “knew Him not.” They were spiritually ignorant. Jesus is the “true Light”—the original of which every other light is a copy—but the Jews were content with the copies. They had Moses and the Law, the temple and the sacrifices; but they did not comprehend that these “lights” pointed to the true Light who was the fulfillment, the completion, of the Old Testament religion. 2
Are there those who are spiritually ignorant today? Yes there are. And it’s clear to me that God’s chosen form of witness to them is men and women and young people who are Christ’s followers delivering the message of Jesus Christ.
But how do we deliver that message of the Light—how do we deliver the message of the life that is found in Christ Jesus?
The answer to that question is found in the first half of verse 7.
God chooses to use people by way of their testimony
7a This man came for a witness to bear witness of the Light (see Titus 2:11)
If you were to search through the Gospel of John you’d find that the word witness is a recurring theme. Witness is used by John the Apostle as a noun fourteen times and as a verb thirty-three times. 3
What is a witness? In our courts of law a witness often gives eyewitness testimony. This person, or witness, is to have first hand knowledge of the information being examined. In the same way John is to give first hand testimony about Jesus Christ, first hand testimony that is to help show others the truth. First hand testimony that is to expose their sinfulness and their need of a Savior. God graciously sent John to basically “put the cookies on the bottom shelf”. To make the arrival of the light, Jesus Christ, clear to them.
A person testifying as an eyewitness is helping convince those who weren’t there of the truth of what happened. They are clueless and need to be convinced or enlightened to what the truth is.
People in sin are in much the same way clueless. They need someone to come alongside them and tell them what the truth is. Matthew Henry said, “Christ’s light needs not man’s testimony, but the world’s darkness does.” Jesus didn’t need any help in bringing the light to people. But people need the help in seeing the light. People of the world have their eyes closed to the light. They are blinded by the darkness of sin.
So it says of John the Baptizer that he came as a witness to the light, the truth. John was a witness to the light and he was such a bold witness that it ended up costing him his life. In Matthew 14:1-12, we see John speaking out about Herod’s adultery. As a result he is eventually beheaded. John was a bold and powerful witness. He was willing to declare the truth even when it wasn’t in his best interest.
Just as God sent John to be a witness to the light, the truth, He expects us today to be His witnesses. We see this clearly in Acts 1:8.
Acts 1:8 "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."
There are people all around us in darkness and we need to be witnesses to the light. We are God’s chosen agents to share the good news that Jesus Christ came to save sinners. One of the songs we sang this morning comes from Isaiah 52:7.
Isaiah 52:7 How beautiful upon the mountains Are the feet of him who brings good news, Who proclaims peace, Who brings glad tidings of good things, Who proclaims salvation, Who says to Zion, "Your God reigns!"
That is your job—that is my job. We are to proclaim salvation. We are here to be a witness to the light. Once we trust in Christ we have an important job to do and it is to be a witness to those lost in darkness who need the Light, Jesus Christ.
3. So that all might believe
So why was John sent to be a witness? Why are we as believers today called to be witnesses? We see the answer in the second half of verse 7.
v7b – that all through him might believe
The reason for our witness is that all might believe. Who is included in the word all? You, me and others. Who are the people in need of our witness? Our family, our friends, our neighbors, our co-workers. There are others around us living in darkness who need the testimony of our witness. They need to know about the Light, Jesus Christ.
What is it that we and others need to believe? It’s made clear for us later in the book of John. Remember John 20:31? We’ve looked at it a couple of times in our study.
but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.
We also see in this verse why we need to believe. Believing in Jesus Christ results in life in His name. Many are lost and dying in darkness. We know from God’s Word that the penalty for sin is death. Everyone has sinned. Only Jesus Christ lived a sinless life. Because of our sin we are in need of a Savior. He is the Light who came to die for sinners. By trusting in Him eternal life is given to us.
But as we take the message of truth to the lost—as we testify and become witnesses for Jesus Christ there is an important truth to undserstand. Look at verse 8.
Depend on the Word and the Light not on yourself.
8 – He was not that Light but was sent to bear witness of that Light
John was not the light—he was only a witness to testify of the light. He certainly was a good man, a great example—some had even mistaken him for the coming Messiah. But John 5:35 calls John a light-bearer. John wasn’t the light— Jesus was the Light.
What you need to understand when it comes to your witnessing—in pointing others to Jesus Christ is that you are not the light. Whether or not those in darkness believe in Jesus Christ doesn’t depend on you being the light. You need to trust God to help you point others to Him and then leave the results to Him. Don’t trust in yourself, it’s not your message, you aren’t the Word, you aren’t the light. You are merely a messenger—a witness to the truth.
But you must be a good messenger, a trustworthy witness. At one point (John 3:30) John says that He must increase but I must decrease. A good messenger for Jesus Christ wants the focus to only be on Christ. John had the right attitude about this as we see him quoted in John 1:15.
John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.’ ”
What I think we need to understand when it comes to being witnesses for Jesus Christ it that we must have faith in God—trust God—it’s His message—darkness cannot overcome the light! Things may seem dark all around you. It may seem like your family isn’t interested in the truth of God’s Word. You may be despised for living a Godly example. But trust God to do the work in the hearts of those blinded by the darkness revealing to them the light of His truth.
We could easily grow discouraged when we see the darkness around us or when we aren’t the best witness. But the good news is that darkness cannot overcome the light! Last Wednesday in prayer meeting we were rejoicing over the salvation of a friend of one of our families. This was a man who those that knew him thought he’d never turn from his sinful lifestyle. Yet today he is a believer. His life has been transformed and he has a passion and love for the Lord.
How should we respond?
So how should we respond this morning to the message of God’s Word? There are four ways I think we could respond.
First of all, if you have never trusted Christ, this would be a wonderful time for you to accept Him as your Savior. God through His Son Jesus Christ offers you the greatest gift you could ever receive. He offers cleansing from your sin and eternal life in Heaven with Him. Accept God’s wonderful gift of salvation today. Then you too can become a light-bearer reflecting the Light of Jesus Christ to a sin-darkened world. If you’d like to know more about how you can trust Christ I’d love to share with you some more of the truths of God’s Word. I’d love to meet with you—just ask.
Another response to the truths of God’s Word this morning is for all those who are believers already to live in obedience to God’s Word. When you are living in obedience to the Word you will be a witness to the truth. Put into practice the words of Matthew 5:16.
Matthew 5:16 "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
One of the best ways to make this happen in your life is to get in the Word and let the Word transform your life. Do you struggle with some sin in your life—search God’s Word for the truth and obey God’s Word. Your life transformed by the power of God’s Word and the work of the Holy Spirit will do more to convince those around you than your words alone.
There’s another response to the truths of God’s Word that I want you to consider. All who trust Christ are called to be witnesses but maybe God is calling you to be His messenger in a special way. Perhaps He is calling you or will one day call you to a foreign mission field. Perhaps God will use you on a short-term mission assignment. Maybe He’s going to give you an opportunity to teach God’s word as a Pastor or teacher. Be ready to respond to the unique opportunities that God may place in your life.
A fourth way that we all need to respond to the message of God’s truth today is that we all need to listen to God’s messengers. John was a messenger sent from God. The fact that he had a message to proclaim implies that there were those who needed to hear his message. Listen to Malachi 3:1 which describes John.
Malachi 3:1 "Behold, I send My messenger, And he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, Will suddenly come to His temple, Even the Messenger of the covenant, In whom you delight. Behold, He is coming," Says the LORD of hosts.
We need to listen to the messengers that God sends to us today. God communicates to us through our own personal study of the Word but He also communicates through others that He equips, prepares and commissions to deliver the message of God’s Word in our lives. He speaks to us through pastors, Sunday school teachers and Godly parents. We need to come regularly and hear the Word of God taught. We need to have open hearts ready to hear the messengers that God places in our lives. And we need to be quick to obey God’s truth they deliver.
In the midst of this busy season where many gifts are exchanged think about the greatest gift of all that was ever given to mankind. Jesus Christ came as a baby to earth and lived a sinless life so that He could die on the cross and pay the penalty for our sin. By believing in Him we can receive the most precious gift of all, the gift of eternal life. Have you received this gift yet? If not receive Jesus Christ today and experience the true meaning of Christmas in your life this year.
Maybe you have received this precious gift. When you are busy shopping for just the right gift for loved ones in your life don’t forget the most precious gift of all, that of knowing Jesus Christ, the Light of the world. Be a witness to those around you of the Light. Let your light shine before others so they may know Jesus Christ and glorify the Father. The best gift anyone could receive at this time of year is the gift from God, faith in Jesus Christ. The best gift we can share with others is testifying of Him.
1 http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/london/4078285.stm and the WPBF News Website – http://www.wpbfnews.com/entertainment/3984896/detail.html
2 Warren Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, Electronic Edition