Text: John 1:6-34
Summary: Be a witness of Jesus, that you may bear witness about Jesus. See His glory, that you may glorify Him. Have your own testimony, that you may testify about Him.
Father, thank you so much for sending your Son. Your only Son Jesus comes to be the Word, to be the Life, to be the Light, and to be One who is full of grace and truth. We pray, O Lord, that we would testify about how all of these are true and how we met you, Lord Jesus, throughout this past year 2019. We pray that you would restore us and create in us a greater hunger to meet you in 2020. Thank you Lord. In Jesus Name, Amen
Today’s a bit of a continuation from last week. If you recall from John 1, we talked about how Jesus is the Word, Jesus is the Life, Jesus is the Light, Jesus is the Truth and Jesus is full of grace. Jesus is the Word and so we go to Jesus and say, teach me. Jesus is the life, so we go to Jesus and say, revive me. Jesus is the Light so we go to Jesus and say, lead me. Jesus is full of grace, so we go to him and say, forgive me. Jesus is the truth, and we say to him, free me.
John 1. Jesus as the Word, the Life, the Light, the Truth and full of grace. And as you read Scripture, you’re not learning principles. You’re meeting a person. And so I pray that in the days ahead, in the years ahead, we can locate Jesus in these many ways.
6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light. 9 The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) 16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known. 19 And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” 20 He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” 21 And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.” 22 So they said to him, “Who are you? We need to give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” 23 He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.” 24 (Now they had been sent from the Pharisees.) 25 They asked him, “Then why are you baptizing, if you are neither the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” 26 John answered them, “I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know, 27 even he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.” 28 These things took place in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing. 29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32 And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33 I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”
Is there a phrase here that you see repeated over and over, one word or a variation of that word? My family can answer because we already talked about this. Yes, witness and bear witness. And that is the one point for today. Be a witness of Jesus that you may bear witness. Another way to say it is, behold his glory that you may glorify him. And yet another way is, seek to have your own testimony about Jesus that you may testify.
So be a witness that you may bear witness. The sad thing that we read from the gospel of John is that the Word came into the world, the true Light came in, and yet what was the response? It said the world did not know him. He came to his own people, and it says his own people did not receive him. But we as believers, what defines us and what makes us a believer is that we have received. We have believed. We have met. We have encountered Jesus who is the Word, who is the Life, who is the Light, full of grace and full of truth.
There’s a Nike commercial about LeBron. Someone know what it says on the billboard? I think it says, we are all witnesses. What a sacreligious model from Nike. LeBron, yes, he is a great basketball player. And you could only say you’re a witness of his greatness on the court if you are alive during his reign as king on the court, the same way that us who are a bit older, we were witnesses of Jordan and we can compare the two and we know clearly Jordan is better. Just no competition. We’ve seen Jordan live on TV.
And it’s the same idea for a Christian. We cannot bear witness until we are a witness. We cannot testify until we have a testimony. We can’t glorify him until we have seen his glory. So it’s about seeing. It’s about hearing. It’s about receiving. It’s about believing. It’s about meeting. It’s about encountering the Lord Jesus. And if you are a witness of him, then you bear witness. And that word appears all over. John 1:7 says, he came as a witness to bear witness.
From the Greek word for “witness” or “bear witness,” we derive the English word “martyr.” A martyr is someone who bears witness, who testifies until the very end, even to the point of death. Some people think a martyr-like life is someone who works really hard so that you can avoid punishment and you need to earn God’s approval through your works. But that is so not true. We are witnesses. That is what it means to be a martyr, that even to the point of death, you will testify and bear witness because you are a witness.
I grew up as a Christian in a church with a lot of pressure to go witnessing, and I realized as I got out there, I have nothing to say. It’s just the same thing over and over. It’s like I’ve memorized a script and I am witnessing because we’ve got to bring people to the church. And it’s the same story, like I’m reading a script. But you cannot bear witness unless you are a witness. You can’t testify unless you have a testimony. You can’t glorify God until you’ve seen his glory. It’s about seeing, hearing, meeting, receiving, believing, encountering the Lord Jesus.
In v8, John “bears witness” about the Light. Then v14, it says “we have seen” — we, John and the rest of the apostles, we have seen His glory. And then in v15, John “bore witness” about Him. In v16, Apostle John says, “we have all received, grace upon grace.” Now v29 says, he (John the Baptist) “saw” Jesus coming toward him and said, Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
John bears witness regarding what he saw. He saw the Spirit descend from heaven and rest upon Jesus after He was baptized. In v33, he says, I myself did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is He who is baptizes with the Holy Spirit. And again, he says in v34, I have “seen” and “bore witness” that this is the Son of God.
John 1 makes it abundantly clear that unless you are a witness, you cannot bear witness. In the court of law, you can’t say I heard about somebody who saw it. You cannot be a secondhand witness or third hand witness. You have to be an eyewitness. You have to have seen it with your own eyes. You have to have heard it with your own ears, and then you are validated and you’re a valid witness with evidence admissible in court.
And in the Christian life, we cannot be secondhand witnesses. You cannot take somebody else’s testimony and say, yes, that is now my testimony. You can’t even take Apostle Paul’s testimony or Apostle John’s testimony or any of the apostles testimonies. You can’t say because they have seen it, I also have seen it. No, you have to see it for yourself. You have to hear it for yourself. All of us have to be witnesses in order for us to bear witness.
And so what qualifies John to be a witness? Well, we know that he had godly parents, Zechariah and Elizabeth. And John grew up hearing the stories from Zechariah and Elizabeth. But that’s not enough. John himself, it says, was filled with the Holy Spirit from even while he was in the womb, and then Luke 3. Let’s just read that.
3 In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, 2 during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness. 3 And he went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 4 As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. 5 Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall become straight, and the rough places shall become level ways, 6 and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’”
You see in v2 that the word of God came to John while he was already in the wilderness. I think some of the difficulty of why we have a hard time hearing from the Lord and meeting the Lord and encountering the Lord and receiving the Lord is because we are not anywhere close to a wilderness. While he is in the wilderness, because God already moved him there. He already came out of the system. He’s eating locusts and wild honey. He’s wearing camel’s hair. He is out of the system. He’s in a wilderness, and there, the word of the Lord comes.
I know all of us are busy. We need times of getting away into a wilderness, of shutting off devices and taking off the ear phones and turning off the phone. We need times alone, where we just get on our face before the Lord and ask him to speak. The greatest privilege that I have as a pastor is that at a very minimum, once a week, I am on my face. I have no choice. I need to hear from the Lord at least once a week in order to have anything to share. That is my privilege.
And we need to get away into a wilderness. And there the word of the Lord comes. And for John the Baptist, he’s in a wilderness and he’s reading Isaiah 40. Then suddenly the word becomes flesh. Jesus is meeting him in that moment, and he realizes that the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, John realizes, that’s talking about me! The verse is talking about me. I am the one who is the voice. I’m already in the wilderness. And now, I am going to start crying out a message of repentance.
You need times when you read Scripture, when you can locate yourself in the words and it’s like your name is written on that verse. While you’re in the wilderness, the world becomes flesh. Jesus meets you and your heart starts beating faster. And you just know this is a word for you. And that’s John experience. Many other people, actually every other person who’s ever read Isaiah 40 did not have that kind of experience. But for John the Baptist, while he is in the wilderness, he says, ah, I am that voice. This is my mission. I am going to cry out and prepare the people for the coming Messiah.
When’s the last time that you read the word and it was underlined and it’s like it was so highlighted? It’s as if it leaps off the page, and the word of God is coming to you, Jesus is meeting you, and it’s got your name all over that verse? That chapter, that book. That is what it means to meet Jesus as the Word. And John the Baptist had this testimony of reading Isaiah, 40 and realized it was talking about himself.
It’s my testimony that as a college student, God was already preparing me for my future because every time I heard about Jesus calling the apostles and everyone casting down their professions, my heart was stirred. Verses such as, take up a cross and follow me, my heart was stirred. Verses about what good is it to gain the whole world and yet forfeit your soul. My heart was stirred. And you have to be able to locate that there are certain verses that for everyone else, they just read right over it. But for you, there’s a stirring. And that is Jesus the Word coming to you.
And that is a testimony that is going be birthed as you step out in faith in obedience to that word. It is hard to hear the word. It’s hard to hear God while we’re still in the system. We need times of coming out. Times of going into a wilderness and waiting until that story happens so that you can bear witness because you are a witness. You have to see it.
I saw that Jesus is a healer throughout Scripture, but it wasn’t until he healed me that I started to believe it. You know, for years I had headaches. I would take Advil. I had so many stomach issues, I would take Zantac on a weekly basis. I would just be popping these pills until I realized, do I trust this medicine more than I trust You, Lord? And I just started praying. And since that time, I’ve never taken one pill.
Or that time when my back was injured for a year and a half. I could barely move when I first got injured, and it was just such a debilitating thing, it just couldn’t function properly. Even when I walked, I was in pain. And then one day, Jesus met me at night. It’s like a hot finger touched that spot and I woke up, and my back with new. It wasn’t until I had these experiences that now I have a testimony and I can testify. Jesus can heal you of anything.
I am so thankful for these kids. These young kids that God is bringing into our church and these children are the greatest in the kingdom of God, to be sure. And I’m thankful that God is teaching younger parents how not to make the mistake of of us older parents because we didn’t know any better. We kept giving them over to the system. We would give the children over to the system to teach them, to the youth pastor to disciple my kids. And I finally realized, no, that’s my responsibility.
And it’s such a blessing to see younger parents starting to learn from my mistakes and others and start to prioritize the children and care for the children. God was so clear when he told us to homeschool, and now other parents are praying about homeschooling. And that’s such a blessing. And Matthew and Emma’s family is homeschooling and for others, it’s on the radar. It’s a prayer topic.
And I can tell you from that moment that I said, okay Lord, I will trust you and I’m taking my kids out of this system. I trust you and God, now it’s up to you. You have to care for them. I can see from my boys. It is my testimony that God’s favor is upon them. Whatever they do, it is easy. Whatever they do, they are excellent without stress. It is God saying yes, you trusted me and I have your back. I have your back and your children are cared for.
In the area of finances, we have trusted the Lord. And it is my testimony that no matter how it looks on paper, God always supplies more than we need. More than we need. The math doesn’t add up, but always God supplies more than we need. And these things, you can read it in Scripture and kind of nod your head in agreement. But unless you go through it yourself, unless you experience it yourself, the Word just remains a word on paper.
But when you obey it and when you believe it and Jesus meets you in that interaction, the Word becomes flesh and you are meeting the Lord. And now you can bear witness because you are a witness. You see, God is my heavenly Father. He promises that He will care for me. I will never starve. I will never die of thirst. I will always have clothing. That is God’s promise to all of His children. And I believe it. And once you start living that way, now you can testify. It is your own testimony. My heavenly Father does have my back. He feeds the birds there, of course he’s going to feed me. He clothed the grass of the field with lilies. Of course, He’s going to clothe His own child.
And once you go through it and you are a witness of the truth of that word, now you can bear witness. You can testify. It is the same as John the Baptist hearing one day that he will meet a man who ranks before him. It is another thing to actually behold His glory. It is one thing in your prayer closet to be told that you will see a dove come down, heaven will open up and a dove will rest upon a person that you baptize and you will feel so ashamed. You’ll feel like this person should baptize me but you will have the privilege of baptizing Him to fulfill righteousness. And it is quite another thing to actually see with your own eyes heaven open up and a dove come down and rest upon Jesus Christ.
See, we need these testimonies. And until we have these testimonies, actually there’s not much pressure to testify until you are a witness. There isn’t actually not much pressure to bear witness. And for me it takes so much pressure off. I used to think a pastor is a worker and you have to produce work. But now there is no pressure. I am a child of God. The same as you are a child of God. We’re all the same. There is no pressure. I will only bear witness when I am a witness, I will only testify when I have a testimony. I will only go out and do something when God clearly says to do this. And until I hear it, there is no pressure.
The assignment is just getting into a wilderness. Seek the Lord, meet the Lord, encounter the Lord. Receive Jesus, believe Jesus, meet Jesus. That is the only assignment. Homeschool the kids. God says, I have the kids taken care of. Don’t worry about finances. Don’t worry. Trust me. Just you focus on receiving, believing, and meeting Jesus. That’s such an easy assignment. We can all do that. There’s no pressure to produce anything. Just be a witness. Have a testimony. Listen, see and then testify.
Father, thank you so much for everybody’s testimony and all the many ways that you met us and encountered us, and we received you and we believed in you in 2019. But Lord, we are not content with how much we’ve met you up until this point. They’re so much more. We want to be a true witness. A true martyr. Someone who has so many testimonies that we will face death and not recant and not forsake you. And we will acknowledge you before men even as we’re being persecuted. That is a witness, a martyr, someone who can bear witness because they are a witness.
I pray that we can testify to the ends of the earth because we have so many testimonies. I pray that we will glorify You before men because we have seen Your glory in private. Please, Lord Jesus. We want to get alone in a wilderness. However way that we can carve out our own personal wilderness. We want to meet you the same way that John the Baptist did. He was already there in the wilderness out of the system and the word of God from Isaiah 40 came alive and John knew this was his mission, that he is going to pave the way and prepare the people through repentance to meet Jesus the Son of God.
Lord, as we partake in the Lord’s supper, as we do every Sunday, it is our desire that we want to meet you. That you came, yes, to be born in a manger. But ultimately you came to die on a cross. And we remember your death and the bread broken symbolizing your body that was torn and pierced. And your blood shed symbolized by the cup. Lord, in this act of partaking and remembering, this is your actual body and blood, as you said. And so we want to meet you in a mysterious way. I pray that you would nourish us. I pray that we would receive you into our body.
Father, we pray for 2020 that there will be many, many testimonies. Many moments where we are true witnesses. We saw something. We heard something. We felt something. We experienced something. Our heart was stirred as we read the Word. We saw our name highlighted in Scripture. We knew our mission. We knew our purpose. Because the Word came alive and became flesh.
Jesus, you are the Word. We want to meet you. We ask that you would teach us in 2020. Jesus, you are the Life. We pray that you would revive us in 2020. Jesus, you are the Light. We pray that you will lead us in 2020. Jesus, you are full of grace. We pray that you would forgive us in 2020. Jesus, you are the Truth and the truth sets us free. We pray that you would set us free from all sins in 2020, that we would progress toward perfection and become more like Jesus in our thoughts, in our actions and in our speech.
In the thoughts and attitudes and intentions of our heart — we pray that everything would be laid bare and every part of our body would be pleasing before you. I pray that your blood would sanctify us in our body, in our soul, in our spirit, as we partake in the Lord’s Supper. Thank you, Lord. In Jesus Name, Amen