Leading With Your Heart

John 4:1-26


  • A Bit of Background

    • Jesus leaves Judea for Galilee

      • The Pharisees are stirring up trouble again (vv. 1-2)

      • Jesus intentionally avoids this conflict created by the Pharisees (at least for the time being)

      • So Jesus leaves Judea and travels to Galilee

  • Jews and Samaritans

    • “Now [Jesus] had to go through Samaria.” (v. 4)

      • AND YET . . . Many Jews did not travel through Samaria

      • Many pious Jews completely avoided Samaria, both out of hatred and to avoid impurity

    • A brief history of Jews and Samaritans

      • Hundreds of years of mutual hatred and distrust

      • After Israel divided into two kingdoms, the northern kingdom was captured by the Assyrians in 722 BC

      • Throughout that captivity, Israelites in the northern kingdom intermarried with Assyrians and also developed their own religion which included the worship of both the true God and Assyrian false gods

      • So Jews saw Samaritans as “half-breeds”

    • So why would Jesus “have to go through Samaria?”

      • Divine appointment

      • (Acts 1:8) Witnessing in Samaria – God calls us to witness to our enemies!

  • The Humanity of Jesus

    • Despite prejudices and traditions, Jesus talks to this Samaritan woman at the well

    • Look at Jesus’s approach to her

      • Shows vulnerability

      • Show humility

      • Prioritizes the person

        • “Through the entire conversation, Jesus deals with her as a person in her own right, with her unique history and special longings. ​​ She emerges in the account as a credible character with personal dignity, because Jesus treats her as such. ​​ Simply put, Jesus loved her and was prepared to breach age-old conventions to reach her. ​​ Our failures in evangelism are so often failures in love.” ​​ [Milne, 87]

        • PRINCIPLE #1 – Don’t be afraid to lead with your heart

        • MY NEXT STEP TODAY IS TO: ​​ Take intentional steps to prioritize people in my life this week.

  • The Divinity of Jesus

    • (v. 10) Jesus begins to reveal who He is

      • “Living water” (Jer. 2:13)

      • Exactly what she’s been searching for in relationships which have run dry

    • Bringing out the truth

      • The woman expresses interest

      • Jesus begins to tell her about herself

  • Spirit and Truth

    • Jesus’s response to her questions of religion

      • Maybe she felt unworthy or excluded

      • Jesus addresses this

    • God wants those who worship in Spirit and in Truth

    • “. . . an attitude of heart which acknowledges God and His sovereignty over our lives. ​​ Furthermore, worship must be done in truth – honestly, biblically, centered on Christ. ​​ This paragraph shows the difference between religion and the gospel: ​​ religion describes humankind’s search for God; the gospel describes the way God reached down to humanity.” ​​ [Anders]

  • What Does This Mean For Us?

    • Don’t be afraid to lead with your heart

    • What you need: ​​ God

    • What you don’t need: ​​ all the answers


Completion Not Competition

(John 3:22-36)



“To be humble is to be so sure of one's self and one's mission that one can forgo calling excessive attention to one's self and status. And even more pointedly, to be humble is to revel in the accomplishment or potential of others, especially those with whom one identifies and to whom one is linked organically. ...


Humility means two things. One, a capacity for self-criticism. ...The second feature is allowing others to shine, affirming others, empowering and enabling others. Those who lack humility are dogmatic and egotistical. That masks a deep sense of insecurity. They feel the success of others is at the expense of their own fame and glory. If criticism is put forward, they are not able to respond to it. And this produces, of course, an authoritarian sensibility.”


Cornel West in dialog with bell hooks in The Other Side, (Mar.-Apr. 1992). Christianity Today, Vol. 38, no. 5.





  • ME

    • Spiritual retreat

        • Last week I went up to Creation Music Festival with Seth and Nathan Cafarchio on Tuesday to set everything up

        • While they both came home, I remained at Creation by myself

        • I had been looking forward to having the rest of Tuesday and most of Wednesday to myself

        • I had planned a spiritual retreat where I could pray, read God’s Word, worship, and listen to God’s voice

        • I’ve been wrestling through my own feelings about ministry success and God used the spiritual retreat and a couple of the artists to speak to me

          • As I was reading commentaries on Wednesday in preparation for the message, I was particularly challenged by one statement

          • “Everything good you’ve received, whether its financial prosperity, physical abilities, or ministry success, comes from heaven . . . the good hand of God is the reason for any success in ministry. ​​ Big buildings, growing budgets, and increased attendance don’t measure the success of a ministry. ​​ The results are not ours, they’re God’s, and he has the authority to do with us what he desires. ​​ Jesus said to his disciples, ‘I will build my church’ (Matt. 16:18).” ​​ [Carter and Wredberg, Christ-Centered Exposition: ​​ Exalting Jesus in John, 72]

          • I work hard to try and have a successful ministry here at Idaville Church, but in the process I have neglected my family

          • Mike Donehey (lead singer for Tenth Avenue North) and Matt Hammitt (former lead singer for Sanctus Real) both shared stories of how their wives encouraged them to step back from the busy touring life to be with their families

          • Mike said he was scared that if he stepped back and didn’t continue to push for more and more engagements that the band would die, but they are still around and are releasing a new album in August 2019 (they cut their engagements in half from around 165 a year to around 80)

        • God knew that this is what I needed to hear and allowed that theme to come through loud and clear at Creation

        • I’ve been trying to compete with Jesus by becoming greater and doing more, instead of completing what God has called me to do, so Jesus becomes greater

        • I have to come to the realization that the success of Idaville Church doesn’t rest with me, but with Jesus

        • I have to faithfully point people to Jesus


  • WE

    • Self-reliant

        • It’s difficult in our culture to think about stepping back from a busy schedule

        • Success in our culture is all about pushing harder and farther than the next person

        • Many times we sacrifice church attendance or service in the church, so we can continue to pursue other activities

        • Our goal should be eternal and not temporal

        • Are the things we’re pursuing pointing people to Jesus?

    • The 80/20 rule

        • Most of us have heard about the 80/20 rule

        • It goes like this, 20% of the people do 80% of the work

        • That is especially true in the church

        • Sometimes the 20% have to humbly step back and leave a void, so others will step forward to serve

        • I know that some of us at Idaville Church serve faithfully and in multiple capacities, because we love the church and want to see it succeed, but those individuals are potentially in the same boat as me – they are competing with Jesus by becoming great and doing more, instead of completing what God has called them to do so Jesus becomes greater


John the Baptist didn’t have the problem of competing with Jesus, because he understood what his role was in God’s plan. ​​ He knew exactly what he was called, by God, to do and he completed his task. ​​ We’ll see today in John 3:22-36 that John the Evangelist wants us to understand that . . .


BIG IDEA – When we compete with Jesus, we become greater – but when we complete for Jesus, He becomes greater.


Let’s pray


  • GOD (John 3:22-36)

    • Man Exalted (vv. 22-26)

        • Jesus’ baptism (v. 22)

          • “After this” is an unspecified time period

            • We have to remember that John the Evangelist is not writing in a chronological order, but rather he is providing information that will help to accomplish his goal and purpose in writing

            • John 20:31, But these things 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.

            • In a general sense we can definitely say that what we are about read took place after Jesus’ baptism and His ministry in Jerusalem

          • Judean countryside

            • The NIV does an excellent job of translating the meaning of the original Greek

            • The NASB, which is a more word-for-word translation of the Greek, translates it this way, After these things Jesus and his disciples came into the land of Judea, and there He was spending time with them and baptizing.

            • That literal translation makes it sound like Jesus had just enter the land of Judea and yet Jerusalem is in the land of Judea

            • It seems as though Jesus and His disciples have left the urban center of Jerusalem and are spending some time in the rural areas of Judea

          • Baptizing

            • The verb is in the singular, so it would seem as though Jesus is the One who is doing the baptizing, but John clears that up for us at the beginning of the next chapter

            • John 4:1-2, The Pharisees heard that Jesus was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John, although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples.

            • I don’t believe this was by chance, but by divine design

              • Imagine for a moment that we could say we were baptized by Jesus, the Messiah

              • In our humanness we would use that as a way to express our spiritual pride

              • “Well, you may have been baptized by . . . but I was baptized by Jesus!”

              • God, in His divine sovereignty, stopped that from being a problem or temptation in the lives of the believers in the 1st Century

              • Jesus wasn’t the One who was doing the baptizing – it was His disciples

            • What kind of baptism was Jesus’ disciples doing?

              • We know that John the Baptist’s baptism was a baptism of repentance, in anticipation of the coming Messiah

              • This would also have to be the case with Jesus’ baptism by His disciples

              • Jesus had not yet fulfilled His purpose on earth – to give His life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45)

              • He hadn’t died on the cross, been buried, and come alive again, providing eternal life for all who believe

              • So, the baptism that Jesus is doing is not what we call “believers baptism,” it would have been a baptism of repentance, anticipating Jesus passion

              • It was also not the baptism of the Holy Spirit, that John the Baptist had mentioned earlier in this Gospel – that would come on the Day of Pentecost

          • The baptism that Jesus’ disciples were conducting was simply continuing to point people to Jesus

        • John’s baptism (vv. 23-24)

          • John was continuing his ministry of pointing people to Jesus and preparing them for the day when Jesus would fulfill His purpose on earth

            • His ministry was not completed, even though He had already identified Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world

            • Jesus was so new in this 1st Century scene that some people were probably skeptical about Him

            • They were familiar with John’s ministry and therefore people were constantly coming to be baptized (Jn. 3:23)

            • We know, from this story, that not every one of John’s disciples had begun to follow Jesus – they were committed and zealous for John’s ministry

          • Location

            • For the original readers of John’s Gospel the location of Aenon near Salim would have identified a specific location that they were familiar with

            • Unfortunately for us, that specific location has been lost

              • We can only speculate about two potential locations [show the map]

                • Eight miles southeast of Beth Shean (Scythopolis)

                • Four miles southeast of Shechem, farther south

              • Both locations were within Samaria and had multiple springs surrounding them, so the reference to the place having plenty of water, would fit

            • “Aenon” is a Semitic term that means “springs”

            • “Salim” comes from the Hebrew word for “peace” (Shalom)

          • Timeframe

            • John the Evangelist helps us to understand that Jesus and John the Baptist were baptizing and ministering simultaneously

            • The Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) only record Jesus’ Galilean ministry, after John the Baptist had been arrested

            • Mark 1:14, After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God.

            • They do not record any of Jesus’ ministry, in Judea, prior to that time

            • So, John the Evangelist includes this side note to help his readers understand that there was a period of time when Jesus and John the Baptist ministered simultaneously in the land of Judea

            • This side note prevents any attempt to say that the Bible contradicts itself – that the Synoptic Gospels disagree with John’s Gospel

            • John is relaying a story that happened prior to the stories recorded in the Synoptic Gospels

          • John has set the stage for the argument and John the Baptist’s disciple’s concern

        • Argument (v. 25)

          • A certain Jew

            • The NIV translates the Greek for a Jew correctly, because it is in the singular

            • It was not a group of Jews, as some have speculated

            • Unfortunately we are not able to identify who this Jew was, but that’s fine because that’s not the focus of this text

          • Ceremonial washing

            • In fact, what they are arguing about isn’t the focus of the text either

            • John the Evangelist tells us that they are discussing the matter of ceremonial washing

            • “Baptism such as this was commonplace for converted Gentiles entering Judaism since it represented a spiritual threshold the convert was crossing. ​​ Ceremonial washings were also common among Jews who cleansed themselves for service or prayer. ​​ But baptism for Jews did not make sense. ​​ Was this a ceremonial cleansing? ​​ Was it a threshold? ​​ Certainly these questions stand behind the interrogation of John reported at the beginning of all four Gospels.” ​​ [Burge, The NIV Application Commentary, John, 121]

          • There was obviously something in the argument that uncovered some frustration that John’s disciples had, concerning Jesus’ ministry of baptism

          • So, they go to John the Baptist to share their concerns with him

        • Disciple’s zeal (v. 26)

          • Rabbi

            • The use of “Teacher” here is not out of place, since it was still a general term in the 1st Century

            • It eventually became a specific term only used for those who completed the vigorous rabbinic training

            • John the Baptist’s disciples followed him and his teachings

          • Separating themselves from Jesus’ ministry

            • Notice how John the Baptist’s disciples frame their concern when they approach him

              • They most likely knew Jesus by name, but they say, that man – they don’t even want to acknowledge Him by name

              • Who was with you – Jesus was with John and not them

              • The one you testified about – it was John’s testimony about Jesus and not theirs

              • He is baptizing

            • They do not, in any way, want to be associated with Jesus and His ministry

              • They are totally committed to John and his baptizing ministry

              • They were definitely not like Andrew and John who understood who Jesus was and began to follow Him when John the Baptist said a second time “Look, the Lamb of God!” (John 1:35)

            • PRINCIPLE #1 – God wants us to follow Jesus, not people

              • That’s what these disciples of John the Baptist were doing

              • They were fully committed to following John and refused to follow Jesus as a result

              • Their jealousy and resentment at Jesus’ growing ministry blinded them from seeing and hearing the truth of John the Baptist’s message – Jesus is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29)

              • “Disciples of teachers are often more zealous for their teachers’ perspectives than the teachers themselves, and thus history is replete with many examples of the excesses of disciples, as in the case of the Arminians and Calvinists.” ​​ [Borchert, The New American Commentary, John 1-11, 190]

                • The former State Director for CEF of Indiana had almost made it through her studies at Dallas Theological Seminary without being asked if she held to the Calvinist or Arminianist doctrine of salvation

                • On graduation day she was cornered by her fellow classmates and asked to choose

                • Her response was not original to her, but is profound, “I pray like a Calvinist like it’s all up to God, and I work like an Arminianist like it’s all up to me.”

                • When I’m asked that question about the doctrine of salvation, I normally respond by saying, “I’m a Christian, I follow Jesus. ​​ Calvin was human and fallible. ​​ Arminius was human and fallible. ​​ Jesus is God and perfect.”

                • We have an incredible history as United Brethren in Christ

                  • William Otterbein, one of the two founding pastors of this denomination modeled humility and pointing people to Jesus, just like John the Baptist

                  • “He published no books and few of his works are available . . . For some reason, perhaps known only to himself, it was reported that all his personal papers and notes were burned. ​​ According to Drury, John Hildt reported that this burning occurred in his presence during the last year of Otterbein’s life.” ​​ [Fetters, Trials and Triumphs: ​​ History of the Church of the United Brethren in Christ, 75-76]

                  • While we don’t know the reasoning behind why he did this, I would like to think that it was because he was not about building his own kingdom, but the kingdom of God

                  • He didn’t want people pointing to his words, but to the Word of God

              • Who are we following?

                • Every one of us follows someone or something

                  • Some of us follow the Yankees, while others follow the Orioles or some other baseball team

                  • Some of us follow the Steelers, while others follow the Eagles (the Redskins are pretty popular too)

                  • Some of us follow Dr. David Jeremiah, Beth Moore, Greg Laurie, Charles Stanley, Andy Stanley, Chuck Swindoll, Craig Groeschel, Rick Warren, Max Lucado and the list goes on and on

                • When I first came to Idaville, there were several messages where I said that if you are coming to church to hear me preach, you are coming for the wrong reason

                  • We should be coming to church to learn more about Jesus

                  • But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18)

                  • So whether I’m here or another Pastor is here, we should be coming to church to learn more about Jesus

                • Paul had to set the Corinthian church straight

                  • Read 1 Corinthians 1:10-17

                  • Read 1 Corinthians 3:1-9

                  • Paul was saying that he, Apollos, Cephas, and any other preacher of the Gospel should be pointing people to Jesus and not themselves

              • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Make sure that I am following Jesus and not another human being.

            • The disciples of John the Baptist who came to him with their concern, were following a human being and not Jesus, which caused them to exaggerate

          • Exaggeration

            • In their frustration and concern they overstate reality

            • Everyone is going to him (John 3:26b)

            • We know that’s not true, because John the Evangelist stated in verse 23 that John was also baptizing in Aenon near Salim, and people were constantly coming to be baptized

            • When things aren’t going our way, or we don’t like a certain thing or a certain person, we tend to exaggerate as well

              • “Nobody likes . . . (sushi, spinach, lima beans, etc.)”

              • “Everyone likes . . . (hymns, worship songs, etc.)”

              • “No one likes . . . (a particular person)”

              • “Everyone thinks that . . . (idea, vision, goal, or direction) is wrong.”

              • Many times we use those kinds of exaggerations to manipulate the situation, so it will go in our favor or so that things will change to accommodate our preferences

              • When it comes to spiritual things, I believe that many times God’s trying to change us, but we don’t want to change

            • John the Baptist’s disciples were comfortable with his teachings and his ministry of baptism, so they didn’t want to make a change

          • Who should we follow?

            • “We’re supposed to read this statement not as a question about baptism but about authority. ​​ John the Baptist’s disciples are wondering who has the authority. ​​ Who should men be following?” ​​ [Carter and Wredberg, 70]

            • It’s also probable that John the Baptist’s disciples were wanting to know what he was going to do about Jesus’ ministry of baptism gaining ground (Jesus was “stealing” John’s ministry)

        • What we see in verses 27-30 is a humility that is rare in our culture

          • John does not try to grab fame or authority

          • He doesn’t try to compete with Jesus

        • John points to Jesus and explains that he is completing the task that God had given him

    • Jesus Exalted (vv. 27-30)

        • John’s response (vv. 27-28)

          • “God has given me a specific task to accomplish here on earth”

            • He can’t do more than what God has given him to do and he certainly shouldn’t do less

            • “The principle he enunciated is that a ‘God-sent’ one is not self-oriented or self-serving but is one who acknowledges the ‘giveness’ of life from ‘heaven’.” ​​ [Borchert, 191]

          • His disciples should have known and understood what his task was

            • He hadn’t hidden it from them

            • In fact he probably stated it, to them, more times than John the Evangelist records in this Gospel

            • John the Baptist tells them that they can testify to his God-given task, because he has mentioned it so often

            • “I am not the Christ, but am sent ahead of him.” (John 3:28)

            • There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. ​​ He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. ​​ He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. (John 1:6-8)

            • His task was to be the messenger sent ahead of the Messiah

          • He used an illustration, that would have been familiar to them, to help them understand his God-given role

        • John’s illustration (vv. 29-30)

          • Everyone would have understood the various roles of the wedding party

            • Bride belongs to the bridegroom

              • This is a significant truth, especially in the ancient near east

              • “There is good evidence that in ancient Sumerian and Babylonian law the best man was absolutely prohibited from marrying the bride. ​​ The influence of this view on the Old Testament period is probably to be traced in Judges 14-15, where even the Philistines recognize the rightness of Samson’s grievance. ​​ If this perspective, mediated through the Old Testament, descends as far as John the Baptist, then the Baptist is saying that he is ‘the last who could compete with the bridegroom, for under no circumstances is he allowed to marry the bride.’” ​​ [Carson, The Pillar New Testament Commentary, The Gospel According to JOHN, 212]

              • When we compete with Jesus, we become greater.

              • “Those who win the Church over to themselves rather than to Christ faithlessly violate the marriage which they ought to honour.” ​​ [Calvin cited by Gangel, Holman New Testament Commentary, John, 59]

              • But, John the Baptist is saying that he is not trying to compete with Jesus

              • He is the best man, the friend who attends the bridegroom

            • Best man (friend)

              • The role of the best man in the 1st Century was to prepare everything for the wedding

                • He would make sure the bride arrived for the wedding on time

                • He also made sure all of the arrangements were made in advance of the day

              • The best man was also the one who stood outside the marriage tent (chamber) as the bridegroom and bride consummated their marriage [Borchert, 191]

              • He would listen for the shout of the bridegroom signaling the successful union between he and his bride [Borchert, 192]

            • The best man’s joy came from hearing the bridegroom’s voice

              • That meant the bridegroom had arrived

              • It also meant that the best man had completed his task

          • John was joyful about completing his task of preparing the way for Jesus

            • “The rising prominence of Jesus, as upsetting as it may have been to some of John’s disciples, floods John himself with surpassing joy, because that was exactly what he himself had worked for.” ​​ [Carson, 212]

            • When we complete for Jesus, He becomes greater.

            • PRINCIPLE #2 – Our joy should come from completing what God has given us to do.

              • What has God given you to do in His kingdom?

              • Are you faithfully completing that task for Him?

              • Has that task become something that you are doing for your own glory and recognition?

              • Are you able and willing to accomplish that God-given task without self-recognition?

              • Does that task bring you joy, simply because it is being done for Jesus?

              • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Find joy in faithfully completing my God-given task(s).

                • Perhaps you’ve lost the joy in serving the Lord faithfully

                • Maybe your God-given task feels more like a burden

                • That can change today

                • Ask the Lord to renew your joy in serving Him

          • PRINCIPLE #3 – God’s desire for His people is that they decrease as Jesus increases.

            • “It is said of the pioneer missionary, William Carey, that when he was close to death he turned to a friend and said, ‘When I am gone, don’t talk about William Carey; talk about William Carey’s Savior. ​​ I desire that Christ alone might be magnified.” ​​ [Gangel, 59]

            • “I spent one summer in the mountains of Wyoming. ​​ The camp I was at was up on a mountain, a solid twenty-five minutes from the closest small town. ​​ When the sun went down, the moon and stars began to light up the sky. ​​ There were no city lights for them to compete with – no haze or smog – just cool, clear mountain air. ​​ As night deepened, the intensity of the stars and the moon grew. ​​ I was amazed at how bright they were. ​​ We would lie out under the stars and enjoy the wonders of the night sky. ​​ But every morning the sun would come up, and the stars and moon, as bright as they were, would start to fade. ​​ When the sun appeared, the stars were unnecessary. ​​ John the Baptist was a star, but when the Son came, the star faded. ​​ ‘It’s OK,’ John declared in essence. ​​ ‘Follow Jesus; he’s here now.’” ​​ [Carter and Wredberg, 74-75]

            • “When we evaluate everything based on what we like and dislike, we’ve lost our purpose. ​​ Next time you’re tempted to complain, ask this question: ​​ Am I complaining because the glory of Jesus is decreasing, or is it about me? ​​ Jesus must increase, but it will only happen as we – our wants, desires, and likes – decrease.” ​​ [Carter and Wredberg, 74]

            • Decreasing so Jesus can increase

              • When we compete with Jesus, we become greater – but when we complete for Jesus, He becomes greater.

              • Are there areas in your life where you need to decrease so Jesus can increase?

              • Are you competing with Jesus instead of completing for Him?

              • It’s easy to get caught up in the comparing and competing game, even within the church

                • We compare our church building to other church buildings

                • We compare our pastor to other pastors

                • We compare our children and youth ministry to other church’s children and youth ministries

                • We compare our worship and music to other church’s worship and music

                • “We would do well to notice that envy or jealousy over someone else’s popularity, especially in ministry, can never advance God’s kingdom but only deteriorate our spiritual lives.” ​​ [Gangel, 58]

                • When we play the compare and compete game, we find that we are not content with our church

                • Then it is very easy to speak negatively about our church with family and friends

                • When we do that we’re actually hurting our church instead of helping it, because those family and friends aren’t going to want to come to a church that isn’t unified

              • Pray and serve

                • The solution to comparing and competing is praying and serving

                • We should be praying that God will change our attitudes and that God will prosper His church – that He will provide spiritual growth, salvations, baptisms, finances, children, youth, young adults, older adults, etc.

                • Pray that Jesus will build His church

                • It’s one thing to find fault, but it’s another thing to provide solutions by getting involved and serving

                • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Pray that God will change my attitude(s), and that He will allow Idaville Church to prosper as I serve Him by serving the church.

          • When we compete with Jesus, we become greater – but when we complete for Jesus, He becomes greater.

        • Some scholars believe the final verses of chapter 3 are John the Evangelist’s commentary on the story of John the Baptist and his disciples (I tend to agree with that viewpoint)

    • Commentary (vv. 31-36)

        • Jesus’ authority [sovereignty/deity] (vv. 31-32)

          • John highlights Jesus’ authority, deity, and sovereignty

            • Jesus is above all, because He comes from above

            • Jesus testifies about what He has seen and heard in heaven

            • Unfortunately not every one accepts His testimony

            • It’s interesting to note that John uses the phrase, but no one accepts his testimony

              • I don’t know if this is in contrast to what John the Baptist’s disciples said about everyone is going to him (John 3:26)

              • We certainly know that, not everyone rejected Jesus’ testimony, because His disciples were baptizing people

              • I like the NLT’s translation of the verse, He testifies about what he has seen and heard, but how few believe what he tells them! (John 3:32)

              • “Enter through the narrow gate. ​​ For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. ​​ But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” ​​ (Matthew 7:13-14)

            • In verses 34 and 35 we see that Jesus speaks the words of God, because God has given Him the Spirit without limit and God has put everything in His hands

              • This is significant, because God gave the Spirit to the prophets of old for a specific time

              • But, with Jesus, He gives the Holy Spirit to Him without limit

              • This is important, because eventually Jesus will be baptizing, not with water, but with the Holy Spirit

              • The fact that God has put everything in Jesus’ hands points to His authority and sovereignty

          • He also expresses how finite human beings are

            • The one who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth (John 3:31b)

            • We can only speak about heaven from what God has revealed to us through His Word

            • We don’t have infinite knowledge or understanding of God and heaven

          • Humanity responds in one of two ways

        • Humanity’s response (vv. 33-36)

          • Acceptance

            • When a person accepts Jesus’ testimony a couple of things happen

              • They certify that God is truthful

                • God is truthful – He cannot lie

                • If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives (1 John 1:10)

              • They have eternal life

            • The second response that humanity can choose is rejection

          • Rejection

            • A person can choose to reject Jesus as God’s plan to provide eternal life

              • God has given us a free will

              • He does not force His plan on us, but offers it freely to those who believe

              • Anyone can choose to believe that there is another way to have eternal life, but they will only deceive themselves

              • Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. ​​ No one comes to the Father except through me.” ​​ (John 14:6)

            • Those who reject Jesus as God’s plan for eternal life will not see life

              • God’s wrath remains on those individuals

              • “As in verse 18, the point is not that the disobedient are now suddenly condemned by a vengeful God, but, on the contrary, that their spiritual condition and their relation to God remains unchanged.” ​​ [Michaels, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, The Gospel of JOHN, 228]

              • This goes back to Paul’s statement in Romans 3:23 that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God – we are all born sinners

              • Our spiritual state doesn’t change, from birth, until we choose to believe in Jesus


  • YOU

    • Our goal should be the same as John the Baptist – becoming less, so Jesus becomes greater

    • When we compete with Jesus, we become greater – but when we complete for Jesus, He becomes greater.


  • WE

    • When we understand this truth and begin to live in light of that truth, others around us will take notice

    • We’ll see the body of believers here at Idaville Church living in love and unity, and Jesus will build His church



“A true leader is committed to the cause, and does not become the cause. Staying personally dedicated to the cause can become extremely difficult, particularly if the cause succeeds. A subtle change in thinking can overtake the leader of a successful ministry. He or she begins ‘needing’ certain things to carry on the ministry--things that were not needed earlier.


I admire Mother Teresa, who decided after winning the Nobel Prize that she would not go to accept any more recognition because it interfered with her work. She knew she was not in the business of accepting prizes; she was in the business of serving the poor of Calcutta. She maintained her dedication to the cause by refusing unrelated honors.


Fred Smith, Learning To Lead. (Christianity Today, 1986), p. 29.






All our lives we are constantly put in positions where we have to make judgment calls. Judgment calls are decisions that we make based on good, bad or no information. Each one of us will make thousands of judgment calls in our lifetime. Some are trivial, such as what kind of cereal to buy, what shirt to wear or what brand of toothpaste to use. There is not much risk in making those decisions and they are pretty easy to make though some of us spend hours on research in order to make them.

Some judgment calls are harder to make such as whom should I date or marry? Should I take this job or that job? Should I move to another town? Should I tell so-and-so about such-and-such secret? These pivotal questions are gray area problems that are the hardest to resolve – ones where despite all the research you’ve done and experts you’ve spoken to, the answer is still unclear. These are problems where it’s up to you, your experiences, and that pesky gut feeling to decide what is the best course of action.

There are three errors in judgment we all are at risk of committing: The first is called “representativeness bias.” This is the tendency to judge a situation based on one’s most prevalent experiences and beliefs about the situation. This bias can be useful when making quick judgments in day-to-day life, but it could prove dangerous in more far-reaching decisions because it limits our consideration of other experiences and information. In other words, if we only consider what we’ve personally experienced, we discount the larger picture.

The second is called “availability bias.” This is the tendency to make decisions based on what comes to mind most readily, even though it may not be the best choice available to us. Advertisers capitalize on our inclination to engage in this type of bias. If a certain brand of cereal is put in front of us enough times, that is the type of cereal we will think of first and, in turn, the brand we are most likely to choose. But there may be another kind of cereal out there that we’d like much better, if only it was on our radar.

Third is called “Confirmatory bias.” This is the tendency to make a judgment very early in the decision-making process and then, from that point forward, to only acknowledge information that confirms that judgment while ignoring all evidence to the contrary.

The good news is that we can catch ourselves engaging in these judgment errors once we are aware of them. Our ability to make the correct judgment calls has an obvious impact on the quality of our lives.

There are also judgment calls that we make on whether to do something that is somewhat questionable but not necessarily wrong. Usually we don’t count the consequences, we don’t think our actions all the way through, before we make these type of judgment calls.

Before I came to Idaville, I was working with youth in a church in Hanover. The adult advisors would get together and plan youth events and one of these events was a “road rally.” It was to be a kind of scavenger hunt where groups of youth in a vehicle driven by adults would drive around Hanover and look for clues and follow the route from the starting line to the finish line. ​​ So, a couple of hours before our youth meeting, one of my other advisors and myself set off to go around town and place the “clues” along the route they were to take. We decided to use lime along the road for the “clues.” We set off from the church and started to drive around the back roads putting the lime marks down on the sidewalks or on the road itself. I was driving the other advisors truck and he was on the back throwing down the lime as we drove around. After we had gone four or five blocks weaving around the back roads it was time to get on route 94. I guess at the time I didn’t think this was a big deal. It didn’t take long though for me to get pulled over by a police officer. As we were throwing the lime down on the side of the road someone used their cell phone to call the police. It seems as if what were doing was considered littering. In retrospect I didn’t completely think it through. We could have possibly caused an accident with the way we were throwing the lime down on the road. I made a judgment call without thinking the consequences of my actions through and it could have ended really bad for me or for someone else. I showed a lack of judgment that day.

What are some judgment calls you have had to make during your lifetime? Maybe you had to decide whether to leave a job and pursue another one. Or maybe you have made investments and had to decide which ones would be profitable or not. Maybe you had to decide whether or not to cancel an event because of bad weather. Sometimes that can be a hard decision especially if the weather forecasted hasn’t began at the time you have to make the decision. Of course we all have had to decide whether we are going to sin or resist the temptation to sin. Sinning is a bad judgment call that we have all made many times in our lives.

This morning we are going to be looking at John 3:16-21. We are going to delve into the most well-known verse in the entire Bible. But we are also going to be looking at a pretty important judgment call that we all have to make sometime in our lives. We can’t avoid it or have someone else make the call for us. It is the difference between spending eternity with God or eternity separated from God. Our choice centers around the person of Jesus Christ! Which brings us to our big idea this morning which is “our destiny is determined by what we do with the Light.”

Before we look at our text this morning, let’s start with a word of prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for calling us to faith, for planting your Word in our hearts, and for delivering us from our sin. I thank you for your gospel, your good news for the nations. Give us confidence in the power of your gospel. Grant us clarity in understanding your Word this morning and empower your people to recount your wondrous deeds to those we come in contact with this week. Give us love for you and love for one another. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

There are many wonderful verses in the Bible about God’s love, but few come close to describing His great love as succinctly and powerfully as John 3:16. This is what God’s Word says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.”

We are going to break down this verse almost word for word because the words themselves tell us a lot. We start with the very first word which is the conjunction, “for.” This word tells us the cause for God’s plan of redemption. It all begins with God and the cause is His love. God loved us unconditionally which means we didn’t have to do anything to get his love. This unconditional love is based solely upon His nature and His choice. It is who He is. In Him, we find the ultimate example of love. His love for us moved Him to take unprecedented action.

Next we see the greatness of God’s love magnified by the adverb, “so.” This word describes the manner of His love. It is not just that God loved us, but that He “so” loved us that He gave. This little adverb takes God’s love far beyond what we can think or imagine and it directs us to what He gave, which is his Son.

Last week, Pastor Stuart talked about being “born again.” How can someone be born again? The only way is through the unbounded, overflowing love of God that always was and always will be. We would not even know what love was without God. 1 John 4:19 says, We love because he first loved us. Our love for Him only exists because He loved us first. We wouldn’t even know how to love God or others if God didn’t show us his love first.

The next word is “loved.” There are four Greek words for love. The one used here is “agape.” “Agape” love is the love that chooses and gives of itself sacrificially for the best benefit of the other. ​​ It is a love that is not dependent on emotions and without this love no one could become reconciled to God. Through "agape" love God set aside His wrath against mankind because of their sin and poured it out on Jesus Christ, his beloved Son. Gangel says, “The cross does not show us the love of the son but of the Father.”

The next word is “world.” The object of God’s love is the world. John’s use of the term “world” here is in reference to all mankind. This would have been in great contrast to what Nicodemus would have believed. Remember – Nicodemus was Jewish… he was a Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin. They thought God loved only the Jews and then only those Jews who were keeping the law and their system of traditions. They felt they were God’s chosen and special people, and they were the only ones who had or could have a relationship with the one, true God. But when it says God loved the world that meant, he loved Samaritans, who were a mixed race and looked down upon by the Jews, he loved the Greeks who were pagans and worshipped many gods, and he loved the Romans who had come into the Jewish Promised Land by force and occupied it. It also meant he loved Egyptians, and Syrians, and people from every tribe and every nation.

Also, for God to love the world, He would also have to love sinners, and even worse to Nicodemus, Gentile sinners. Yet sinners are exactly the object of God’s love. 1 Peter 3:18 says, For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.” God loved sinners so much that He made a way for them to be adopted as His children. It says in Galatians 4:4-5, “But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.”

The fact that sinners are the object of God’s love is one of the more astounding aspects of this verse. It means that we who respond to God in disobedience and hatred are still loved by God. It is easy to love someone that loves you, but God loves even those who hated him. It goes even farther than that because there is no one who is so sinful that God’s love is not extended to them. Abraham was the son of an idolater. Jacob was a deceiver. King David was an adulterer and murderer. The apostle Matthew was a dreaded tax-collector. Paul was a murderer and persecutor of the church. The early believers in Ephesus were pagans who practiced witch craft. Those in the church at Corinth included those who practiced fornication, idolatry, adultery, homosexuality, and were thieves, drunkards, revilers and swindlers.

The next word is “gave.” “Gave” has the double meaning of being “sent” as in the birth of Jesus and of being “delivered up to die” as in on the cross. While the object of God’s love is amazing, the sacrifice He has made in the demonstration of that love is even more amazing. The nature of true love is to give of itself, and the greatness of that love is demonstrated by the value of what is given. God loved the sinful world so much that He gave the most valuable and treasured thing that ever existed, his only begotten Son. It was an act infinitely costly to God.

The term, “only begotten Son,” is a Messianic reference to the second person of the triune Godhead. Jesus is one with the Father and the one who reveals the Father. The “only begotten Son” is the eternal, living Word, who became flesh and dwelt among us. Though we cannot comprehend this fully, the gift God gave us as the demonstration of His love was the second person of the triune Godhead. There is nothing more precious or valuable.

This plan included the giving of his Son for the ultimate purpose of being “lifted up.” To be lifted up did not mean to be put on a pedestal for all to admire and worship. Quite the opposite, to be lifted up meant he would be made a sacrifice for our sin on a Roman cross and he would die for all the world to see and witness it. He was to be the Suffering Servant as prophesied by Isaiah. Isaiah 53:2-10 says, He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. 3 He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. 8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away. Yet who of his generation protested? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was punished. 9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth. 10 Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.

Now that the gift had been given, God made us all an offer. This offer is a universal one made to “whoever believes.” The purpose of this offer was so “that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.”

The idea of believing is central to John’s gospel. He uses the term “believe” in one form or another 92 times and in every single instance it is a verb, never a noun. That is because in Hebrew thought, to believe is always more than just a mental agreement. It is more than merely reciting a creed or a prayer. To believe in Jesus means to adopt His words and actions as the foundation for my words and actions. It means that I make Him the reliable and trustworthy guide for living and that I follow Him in every area of my life. That requires a change in my choices, desires, goals and behaviors. It is a change in thought that leads to a change in action. Our whole nature needed to be remade as Pastor Stuart showed us last week.

The requirement to be enter into eternal life and not perish is by “believing in Him.” That means those having faith in Jesus and what he came to earth to do are going to experience eternal life with God and not eternal separation from God. By referencing the Old Testament event of lifting up the serpent in the wilderness, (which Pastor Stuart talked about last week) Jesus provided a basic understanding of what it means to believe. The Israelite people in the wilderness had sinned against God and were suffering the judgment for their sin. God provided a means of salvation of exercising their faith by looking. First, they had to realize they were in trouble. Second, they had to “by faith” and obedience look to the object of their deliverance. We are asked by God first to acknowledge our need for a Savior and second to look to Jesus and believe in him for our deliverance. When we look beyond ourselves and look to Jesus for salvation that look of faith brings eternal results. This brings us to our first next step on the back of your communication card which is “to realize I am in need of a Savior and to look to Jesus for deliverance.”

Now that your nature has been remade or “born again”, belief results in an active faith that trusts Jesus and His sacrificial death as the payment for sin. It is a belief that understands who Jesus is as the Son of God and because of that seeks to completely surrender to him. It is pretty silly to say that you believe that Jesus is God in human flesh and then not do what He says. That would only prove that you think you are smarter than God. Tragically there are many people who live like that today. They profess one thing, but their lives demonstrate a belief opposite of their claim. They say they believe in God and Jesus, but they live as practical atheists. That brings us to our second next step on the back of your communication card which is “to live my life completely surrendered to God in my thoughts, actions and words.”

All of us need to evaluate our own personal commitment to Jesus and determine whether we’ve really believed in Him in that way. Have we really staked our life completely on Him and are we committed to live our life according to His desires, purposes and plans rather than our own?

In verse 17, we see God’s purpose for sending his son. Follow along with me as I read that verse. “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” The Jews at that time were looking for a conquering Messiah. They longed for God to deliver them from their current oppression by Rome and restore Israel to its former glory that existed during the time of King David and King Solomon. They were looking for the establishment of an earthly kingdom with a powerful king whose throne would be in Jerusalem. This king was to be a judge that would punish the Gentile nations and bring them into subjection to Israel.

This verse states that the purpose of the coming of the Messiah was exactly the opposite of their expectations. The Messiah was not coming to condemn the Gentiles, but to save everyone that would believe, including Gentiles. It is interesting that the root meaning of the word “judge” here means “to separate,” Instead of coming to separate Jews and Gentiles, Jesus came to “unite” all who would believe. The purpose of Jesus’ first coming was to save people from every tribe, people, tongue and nation and form them into one new group called the church.

The reason for Jesus’ coming from Heaven in the flesh was to save, but as we saw in verse 16, judgment is also indicated. Eternal Life for all who “believe” is contrasted with those who will “perish.” Holtzmann says, “Christ comes to judge the world “as little” as the sun comes to throw a shadow”, but ‘judgment like the shadow is the natural consequence of the world’s constitution and circumstances.”

In verses 16-17 we see the hope we have in Jesus for eternity but in verse 18, he gives us a warning. This is what verse 18 says, “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”

There is a judgement to come, but it will not be based on any human division such as nationality, language or people group. It will be based instead upon the response of the individual to Jesus Christ. Do you believe in Him and what he came to do or not? Jesus didn’t come to condemn anyone… because everyone was already under the just and righteous condemnation of God. He came to rescue us from that condemnation, wrath, and judgment.

For those who believe, there is no judgement because Jesus changed the verdict. Paul stated it this way in Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” The person that believes in Jesus Christ has been saved from their sins because God has already paid the just penalty for their sins in the sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross. Jesus was judged in their place. The one that believes stands before God clothed in the righteousness of Christ.

But for those who do not believe it says they have already been judged and found guilty. The perfect tense used here indicates that they have been and remain judged. Jesus does not remove hope of salvation by pronouncing this judgment, but rather brings out the seriousness of refusing to believe in the only begotten Son of God.

God set forth Jesus as the only worthy object of our faith. The ultimate evidence that Jesus alone is the only worthy object of faith is that God raised him from the dead. Rejection of Jesus in favor of any other way to God rejects God’s choice that the person of Jesus alone must be believed in.

Not believing in Jesus as your Lord and Savior is the equivalent to self-condemnation. God is not to be blamed but rather the unbeliever who remains in his sin. God does not compel anyone to believe. He has given us free-will to decide whether we will return his love and accept his son as the sacrifice for our sins. Their sin is made worse by the fact that that they are rejecting ‘the only Son of God’. To refuse Christ is to sentence ourselves. (BIG IDEA)

Now we come to the test of what saves or what condemns a person. We see this in verses 19-21. This is what God’s Word says, 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.

What is the difference between believers and unbelievers? It is not a matter of innocence or guilt because they are both guilty. The difference between the two is their attitude and heart response to the Light. The test is what we do when we are confronted with Jesus. Our refusal to come to the light is how we know we have failed the test. It says the Light came in to the world and men embraced the darkness and refused the Light. They loved their sin more than Jesus. They loved evil and doing evil and they would never submit to anything or anyone. Burge says, “Evil and darkness do not ignore the light; they wage war against it and try to bring it down.”

Another reason for embracing the darkness is fear and the reason we are afraid is because Jesus shines a light on our sin. He exposes our sin and lays it all out in front of us. We don’t want to be confronted with our sin, and we sure don’t want our sin exposed to anyone else. We want to ignore it and pretend it’s not there, and hope it just goes away. We don’t want our lust, pride, hate, and selfishness exposed to the world, and honestly we don’t want to be reminded of it in ourselves either. Immersed in wrongdoing we have no wish to be disturbed. We refuse to be shaken out of our comfortable sinfulness.

We love the darkness because in it we can do all the evil deeds we want without exposure. We love the darkness, not for the darkness itself, but because of what it hides. The very fact that we do not want our deeds to be known condemns us by our own guilty conscience. We are living in moral and spiritual blindness that keeps us in the dark and loving our sin. We run from the Light because the Light will expose us for who we really are and by doing so we reject God’s offer of forgiveness in Jesus Christ.

On the other hand, in verse 21, we see those who do pass the test of what they do when the Light comes. It says that those who live by the truth come into the light so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God. Milne says, “Those who come into the light and believe are willing to open their lives to God’s scrutiny.” This is a painful, but necessary step to finding salvation and living for God.

Those who strive to do what is right have no fear of the truth about their lives coming out. They gladly come to Jesus and let Him examine them because they know that His words will help them to get rid of sin and what is spoiling their lives. They want their lives to be open to examination and be put under God’s spotlight, so that what they really are can be seen, which is a true child of God. Such a person’s conscience is totally clear. Psalm 139:23–24 says, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

If we live by those verses, we will not mind that our lives are brought into the light because we know that anything we have done and are ashamed of has been dealt with by the blood of Christ. We are happy for everyone to see the light shining from us. 1 John 1:5-7 says, This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

So, we need to be walking in the light or we will make tragic judgment calls morally and spiritually. More importantly, we will be happy because God will see what we do and will be pleased with us as he is with his Son. We will have God’s full approval for what we do and what we do will be the result of a close personal walk with God. Only when the Light exposes our sin and Jesus cleanses us can we begin to do good for God.

That is the second part of the meaning of verse 21. Practicing the truth is never about showing our works as monuments to ourselves. Whatever “good” or Godly works we do are only possible because of God’s power to change our lives. God’s redemptive and transformational power in us is a tribute to his superiority, not our own. The principal work of God is that by His great mercy and grace, He alone saves souls and converts sinners to Himself. It is God’s initiative and God’s work alone and so He alone deserves the honor and glory of our lives.

Those who are practitioners of the truth and recognize the light as helpful will come to the Light. Those who believe do so because they have a different heart. A person must be humble in order to do these things. They desire to come to the light because they want to see God working in and through them. They want God to be glorified by their deeds. They see themselves as God’s servants and submit to His will and commands. That cannot be done unless there has been a change in their heart. That is the essence of being “born again.” There is no fence sitting with God. Either you believe and are saved, or you do not believe and you are condemned. Either you love and seek the light, or you hate and reject the light. The offer is given to everyone. What will you do? That brings us to our last next step on the back of your communication card which is “to love the Light and seek to live my life in the Light and not the darkness.”

I would like to finish with this true story of a Father’s love for his son because even though the title and big idea of the message today was about judgment everything we saw today started with the awesome love of God. Even though God knew that we would refuse and crucify his son he still sent him to us to save us. I think the reason that he gave so much was that he was hoping we would be so overwhelmed with the gift that all we could do would be to believe in him and be saved. Of course that was not to be and because of that there would have to be judgment and everyone one of us would have to make a judgment call. (BIG IDEA)

One day a son asks his father: "Daddy, will you run the marathon with me?" The father answers yes and both run their first marathon together. Then one day the son asks his father: "Daddy, will you run the Ironman with me?" Now the Ironman is one of the toughest challenges; it requires a 2.5 mile swim, 112 miles biking and 27 miles running. Once again the father says yes.

Rick was born in 1962 to Dick and Judy Hoyt. As a result of oxygen deprivation to Rick’s brain at the time of his birth, he was diagnosed as a spastic quadriplegic with cerebral palsy. Dick and Judy were advised to institutionalize Rick because there was no chance of him recovering, and little hope for Rick to live a “normal” life. This was just the beginning of Dick and Judy’s quest for Rick’s inclusion in community, sports, education and one day, the workplace.

Dick and Judy soon realized that though Rick couldn’t walk or speak; he was quite astute and his eyes would follow them around the room. They fought to integrate Rick into the public school system, pushing administrators to see beyond his physical limitations. Dick and Judy would take Rick sledding and swimming, and even taught him the alphabet and basic words, like any other child. After providing concrete evidence of Rick’s intellect and ability to learn like everyone else, Dick and Judy needed to find a way to help Rick communicate for himself.

With $5,000 in 1972 and a skilled group of engineers at Tufts University, an interactive computer was built for Rick. This computer consisted of a cursor being used to highlight every letter of the alphabet. Once the letter Rick wanted was highlighted, he was able to select it by just a simple tap with his head against a head piece attached to his wheelchair. When the computer was originally first brought home, Rick surprised everyone with his first words. Instead of saying, “Hi, Mom,” or “Hi, Dad,” Rick’s first “spoken” words were: “Go, Bruins!” The Boston Bruins were in the Stanley Cup finals that season. It was clear from that moment on, that Rick loved sports and followed the game just like anyone else.

In 1975, at the age of 13, Rick was finally admitted into public school. After high school, Rick attended Boston University, and he graduated with a degree in Special Education in 1993. Dick retired in 1995 as a Lt. Colonel from the Air National Guard, after serving his country for 37 years.

In the spring of 1977, Rick told his father that he wanted to participate in a 5-mile benefit run for a Lacrosse player who had been paralyzed in an accident. Far from being a long-distance runner, Dick agreed to push Rick in his wheelchair and they finished all 5 miles, coming in next to last. That night, Rick told his father, “Dad, when I’m running, it feels like I’m not handicapped.”

This realization was just the beginning of what would become over 1,000 races completed, including marathons, duathlons and triathlons (6 of them being Ironman competitions). Also adding to their list of achievements, Dick and Rick biked and ran across the U.S. in 1992, completing a full 3,735 miles in 45 days.

In a triathlon, Dick will pull Rick in a boat with a bungee cord attached to a vest around his waist and to the front of the boat for the swimming stage. For the biking stage, Rick will ride a special two-seater bicycle, and then Dick will push Rick in his custom made running chair for the running stage. This story illustrates a father’s love for his son, and that love is expressed not just in emotions but in action! Our heavenly father loved us so much that he also expressed his love in action. The action was sacrificing his son on the cross so that we would be able to have a relationship with him and spend eternity with him.

As Gene and Roxey come to lead us in our final song and the ushers prepare to pick up the communication cards bow with me as I close in prayer: God, we thank you for hearing our prayers and our praises sung to you this morning. We thank you for opening our hearts and minds to your Word and planting it in our hearts. We thank you for the joy of being together with this fellowship of believers and may we continue to walk with you, today, tomorrow and forever. In Jesus’ name. Amen.



Made New

(John 3:1-15)



“London businessman Lindsay Clegg told the story of a warehouse property he was selling. The building had been empty for months and needed repairs. Vandals had damaged the doors, smashed the windows, and strewn trash around the interior. As he showed a prospective buyer the property, Clegg took pains to say that he would replace the broken windows, bring in a crew to correct any structural damage, and clean out the garbage. ‘Forget about the repairs,’ the buyer said. ‘When I buy this place, I'm going to build something completely different. I don't want the building; I want the site.’


Compared with the renovation God has in mind, our efforts to improve our own lives are as trivial as sweeping a warehouse slated for the wrecking ball. When we become God's, the old life is over (2 Corinthians 5:17). He makes all things new.”


Ian L. Wilson, Barrie, Ontario. Leadership, Vol. 4, no. 3.





  • ME

    • Local Chapter of Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF)

        • When I started as the Local Director of the Hardin-Hancock Chapter of CEF they had been without a director for 6 months

        • Basically all ministry had stopped by this point

        • With the help of the Local Board, we were able to rebuild the local chapter from the ground up

        • When I was being asked to consider taking the State Director position for CEF of Ohio, my heart’s desire was to have another Local Director in place before I left, so that the ministry would not stop

        • God provided just the right person at the right time

        • The same Local Director is still there and he has taken the local ministry far beyond what I had envisioned


  • WE

    • Overhaulin’

        • When we had cable or satellite television, one of the shows the boys and I liked to watch was Overhaulin’

        • They take a person’s vehicle and basically strip it down to nothing and then make it into their dream car

        • Basically everything is made new

    • Making things new

        • It doesn’t have to be a vehicle – it can anything

        • How many of us enjoy making things new?

        • There’s a level of satisfaction when something that’s old and perhaps isn’t working is made new and is working again

        • I’m always encouraged when someone believes in Jesus for the first time

          • It’s incredible to watch how God transforms them to make them new

          • Their attitudes and actions begin to change

          • Their desires and goals are renewed and refocused


Last week we saw in John 2:23-25 that Jesus had done miraculous signs in Jerusalem and some people believed in Him, but He would not entrust Himself to them because He knew their hearts and what was truly happening inside. ​​ The Evangelist now gives us an example of one such man that Jesus would not entrust Himself to. ​​ Through the encounter, with this one man, we will see that Jesus wants us to understand that . . .


BIG IDEA – Being born again requires a complete overhaul of our nature.


“. . . by the term born again He means not the amendment of a part but the renewal of the whole nature. ​​ Hence it follows that there is nothing in us that is not defective.” ​​ [Calvin cited by Carson, The Pillar New Testament Commentary, The Gospel According to John, 190]


Let’s pray


  • GOD (John 3:1-15)

    • The man (vv. 1-2)

        • Nicodemus (v. 1)

          • Connecting Greek word

            • The first word in this section in the Greek is de

            • It is commonly translated as “and” or “but”

            • The NIV translates it as “now,” which is also fine

            • I like the idea of “and” because of how it allows what John said in chapter 2 verse 25 to continue

            • He did not need man’s testimony about man, for he knew what was in a man, and there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus . . . (John 2:25-3:1)

            • This lets us know that Jesus knew what was in Nicodemus’s heart and mind – what his true reason for coming to Jesus was (we’ll see this in just a moment)

            • “If some variation of ‘and’ is accepted, the idea is that Nicodemus exemplified those who in some sense believed in Jesus, but with a faith so inadequate that Jesus did not entrust himself to them (2:23-25).” ​​ [Carson, 185]

          • Credentials

            • Pharisee

              • Nicodemus was zealous about his religion

              • As a Pharisee he was one of about six thousand men committed to following all of God’s laws

              • The Pharisees were serious about obeying all 613 commands found in the Old Testament (248 dos and 365 don’ts)

              • “When one became a Pharisee, he pledged in front of three witnesses to uphold every detail of the law for the rest of his life (Barclay, John, 1:140).” ​​ [Carter and Wredberg, Christ-Centered Exposition: ​​ Exalting Jesus in John, 55]

              • Nicodemus was morally upstanding, because he had committed to obeying all of the laws in Scripture, as well as, the man-made regulations to help protect himself from mistakenly disobeying one of the 613 laws

            • Part of the Sanhedrin

              • Most scholars agree that John’s description of Nicodemus as a member of the Jewish ruling council ​​ means that he was part of the 70 member Sanhedrin

              • They were the “highest national body in charge of Jewish affairs” [Köstenberger, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, John, 118]

              • The Sanhedrin was led by the High Priest and was made up both Pharisees and Sadducees

            • The Teacher of Israel

              • We also see in verse 10 that Nicodemus is extremely knowledgeable

              • Nicodemus in more than just “a teacher” of the Israelites

              • The Greek has the definite article before teacher

                • He is “the teacher” of Israel, not just another teacher of Israel

                • Perhaps he was the leading teacher of the Israelites

              • “If Nicodemus were around today, here’s what you would think: ​​ Man, I wish we had hired him instead of our pastor. ​​ He’s got much better credentials. ​​ He’s more serious about keeping the law. ​​ He’s made far fewer mistakes. ​​ He’s more humble. ​​ He knows the Bible better. ​​ He comes from a more prominent position. ​​ He’s everything a church would look for in a pastor and more.” ​​ [Carter and Wredberg, 56]

          • Nicodemus is a highly educated and knowledgeable Pharisee, Sanhedrin member, and teacher who is seeking the truth about Jesus

        • The meeting (v. 2)

          • At night

            • There is a lot of discussion about why Nicodemus came to Jesus at night

              • Some believe it was a way for him to remain anonymous and unnoticed by the other Pharisees and religious leaders, so he wouldn’t come under scrutiny

              • Others simply state that Jesus was continually surrounded by people all day long and going at night allowed Nicodemus to have Jesus’ undivided attention

              • Still others cite the fact that Rabbi’s would study and/or teach late into the night

              • “The best clue lies in John’s use of ‘night’ elsewhere: ​​ in each instance (3:2; 9:4; 11:10; 13:30) the word is either used metaphorically for moral and spiritual darkness, or, if it refers to the night-time hour, it bears the same moral and spiritual symbolism. ​​ Doubtless Nicodemus approached Jesus at night, but his own ‘night’ was blacker than he knew (cf. Hengstenberg, 1. 157-158; Lightfoot, p. 116) ​​ [Carson, 186]

                • What we see here is a reference to Nicodemus’s spiritual state

                • He was walking in spiritual darkness even though he was well versed in the law and the Old Testament Scriptures

                • PRINCIPLE #1 – All of humanity is walking in spiritual darkness, because of sin.

                  • Isaiah 53:6, We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

                  • Everyone is born a sinner, no one is exempt

                  • Our sin separates us from God (Rom. 6:23)

                  • We like to focus on God’s love to the exclusion of His justice

                  • When that happens, we commonly hear statements like this: ​​ “I’m a good person, so God will certainly allow me into heaven.” ​​ “I haven’t done that many bad things.” ​​ “The good I’ve done outweighs the bad.”

                  • What we see with Nicodemus is that anyone would have been hard pressed to find any skeletons in his closet

                  • He was zealous and committed to obeying all of the laws

                  • We would certainly characterize him as a good person

                  • But the fact remains that he was walking in spiritual darkness

                  • He may have believed in Jesus, but he wasn’t a follower or disciple of Jesus

                  • We all have the same condition as Nicodemus

            • The difference between Nicodemus and some of us, is that he recognized something in Jesus that he didn’t see in any other prophet or teacher

            • What Nicodemus was seeing in Jesus was light and life

              • John 1:4-5, In him was life, and that life was the light of men. ​​ The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it

              • John 1:8, He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.

            • He knew that Jesus was the light switch and so he wanted to meet with Him

            • He knew where to go to deal with his spiritual darkness

          • Nicodemus’s compliment of Jesus

            • Rabbi

              • The fact that Nicodemus addresses Jesus as Rabbi is significant

                • Jesus was a carpenter by trade and therefore didn’t have the time to dedicate to the study of the law, like the other Rabbis or their disciples

                • He would have been considered “ignorant” or “uneducated” by the religious elite

                • John 7:15, The Jews were amazed and asked, “How did this man get such learning without having studied?”

                • When Nicodemus uses the title of Rabbi for Jesus, he is placing Jesus on the same level as himself – the primary teacher of Israel

              • Nicodemus includes others in the private conversation with Jesus

            • We know

              • The plural “we” is used in Nicodemus’s compliment of Jesus

              • It is generally agreed that Nicodemus is probably speaking for a group of Pharisees who were in agreement with him

              • They were confident about a few things

                • Jesus was a teacher (Rabbi)

                • He had come from God

                • God was with Him as evidenced by His ability to do miraculous signs – “It was commonly held in Judaism that miracles attest to God’s presence.” ​​ [Köstenberger, 121]

              • What we see in Nicodemus’s compliment is some potentially unasked question(s)

            • The unasked question

              • “Who are you, then? ​​ We know you are a teacher from God, but are you more? ​​ Are you a prophet? ​​ Are you the Messiah?” ​​ [Carson, 187]

              • “Are you here to bring in the kingdom?” ​​ [Gangel, Holman New Testament Commentary, John, 49]

              • Jesus knew what was really behind Nicodemus’s compliment and unasked question(s)

                • He’s not interested in authenticating Himself through signs, but rather getting to the heart of the individual and transforming their nature, completely

                • “The Lord answered not his words, but his thoughts. ​​ The Lord’s answers to questions will be found generally to reveal the true thought of the questioner, and to be fitted to guide him to the truth which he is seeking.” ​​ [Westcott cited by Köstenberger, 121]

        • That is exactly what Jesus is doing when replies to Nicodemus’s compliment – He goes straight to Nicodemus’s need

        • A little side note here – obviously Jesus and Nicodemus spent more time talking together than the 3-4 minutes it takes us to read this story in John’s Gospel (they probably spent a couple of hours talking)

        • John is summarizing the main points of what was said during their meeting

    • The need (vv. 3-15)

        • Jesus’ answer to the unasked questions (v. 3)

          • Whether the unasked question was about Jesus being the Messiah or if Jesus was here to bring in the kingdom of God, they are really the same question

          • Jesus begins His response with the authoritative and solemn formula of “I tell you the truth . . .”

            • This is designed to get the attention of the hearer – it’s like saying, “Listen up, this is important, don’t miss this”

            • It is used again in verses 5 and 11

            • In the Greek it is amēn, amēn (Truly, truly or Verily, verily)

          • Jesus’ response is that no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again

            • This would have been news to Nicodemus, because as a very religious Jew he would have understood that seeing the kingdom of God meant participating in the kingdom when God established it at the end of time, meaning he was guaranteed eternal life [Carson, 188]

            • “Predominant religious thought in Jesus’ day affirmed that all Jews would be admitted to that kingdom apart from those guilty of deliberate apostasy or extraordinary wickedness (e.g. Mishnah Sanhedrin 10:1).” ​​ [Carson, 189]

            • Jesus is basically telling Nicodemus that everything he has been doing, to be in a right relationship with God, is not sufficient

              • His religious zeal isn’t enough

              • His position with the Sanhedrin isn’t enough

              • His vast knowledge as “the Teacher” of Israel isn’t enough

            • Matthew 5:20, For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven

              • Jesus is saying that we cannot enter the kingdom of heaven in our own strength or ability

              • Nicodemus cannot see (participate) in the kingdom of God in his own strength or ability

            • The only way is by being born again

              • Being born again requires a complete overhaul of our nature.

              • The Greek word for “again” is anōthen and can also be translated as “from above”

              • The two definitions are important in this passage, because Nicodemus understood it one way, while Jesus meant it another

          • That’s what we see when Nicodemus asks a clarifying question of Jesus

        • Physical versus spiritual (vv. 4-8)

          • PRINCIPLE #2 – The physical can sometimes keep us from understanding the spiritual.

            • Nicodemus is defining the Greek word as “again,” so he is focusing on the physical aspect of the word

            • How can a fully grown man/woman fit back into his/her mother’s womb to be born again?

            • Nicodemus is looking at the physical side and perhaps is thinking about how absurd it is to say that the only way to participate or see the kingdom of God is to be born again, physically

            • Burge brings out another aspect of the Greek word that Nicodemus may have been thinking – “Can human nature really be changed? ​​ Can we really start over?” ​​ [Burge, The NIV Application Commentary, John, 115]

              • Perhaps we’ve all felt that way at one point in our lives, prior to becoming a Christian

              • Maybe that’s where some of us are at today

                • “I’ve done too many bad things in my life, so there is no way that God will accept me.”

                • “God doesn’t want someone like me in His kingdom.”

                • “I’m damaged goods, I’m too far gone, and no one can help me now, not even God.”

                • “I’ve lived my life in rebellion against God for too long, there’s not hope for me.”

                • “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”

              • You’re absolutely right, YOU can’t change yourself, but God can

                • God took the initiative to pursue you

                  • Ezekiel 34:11, “For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: ​​ I myself will search for my sheep and look after them.”

                  • Ezekiel 34:16a, I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. ​​ I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak . . .

                  • Luke 19:10, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”

                • God’s love for us draws us to Him

                  • Jeremiah 31:3, The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: ​​ “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.”

                  • God’s desire is for us to be in a right relationship with Him

                  • It’s not too late, you haven’t done too many bad things, you’re not damaged goods

                  • God can change your nature, He can help you start over

                • Being born again requires a complete overhaul of our nature.

              • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Recognize that it’s not too late for me and that God can change my human nature.

            • Nicodemus is missing the point

          • From above

            • Jesus wants Nicodemus to think beyond the physical to the spiritual

            • What Jesus means when He says that the only way to see the kingdom of God is to be born again, He means born from above

            • It’s a spiritual birth and not a physical birth

          • Born of water and the Spirit

            • Jesus uses the authoritative and solemn formula a second time, I tell you truth . . ., meaning once again that we need to pay attention to what He is about to say

            • Jesus changes from using “seeing the kingdom of God” to “entering the kingdom of God”

              • We defined “seeing” as participating in the kingdom of God

              • So, Jesus is simply saying the same thing but in a little different way

              • They both mean the same thing

            • A more literal translation of this phrase is born of water and spirit

            • Jesus uses the phrase born of water and spirit to mean the same thing as being born again or born from above

            • Jesus is not talking about baptism or two births here

            • Ezekiel 36:25-27, I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. ​​ I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. ​​ And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.

            • “In essence God said, ‘You need to be clean on the inside – washed with water. ​​ You need your heart to come alive by my Spirit. ​​ Then, and only then, will you be able to obey me.” ​​ [Carter and Wredberg, 57]

          • Like gives birth to like

            • Flesh gives birth to flesh is simply referring to natural human birth – the physical

            • Spirit gives birth to spirit is the supernatural – the spiritual (born from above)

          • Wind as an example

            • Jesus tells Nicodemus that he should not be surprised by His saying

              • The first “you” in verse 7 is singular, so Jesus is speaking directly to Nicodemus

              • The second “you” in verse 7, found in Jesus saying, is plural, meaning specifically those whom Nicodemus was representing, and generally to all of humanity – it’s extended to us

            • Wind

              • As human beings we are unable to determine where the wind comes from and where it’s going

              • While we can’t determine those two things we are aware that wind exists, because we can feel and see its effects

              • We can see the trees and grass sway

              • We can feel the cool ocean breezes on our face during a hot summer day

              • We know to take shelter when strong winds and tornadoes are present or predicted

            • Born of the Spirit

              • The same is true of those born of the Spirit, a spiritual birth, a supernatural birth

              • Those who have not been born of the Spirit don’t understand how or why someone has become a Christian – it seems like foolishness to them

              • “In these characteristics of the wind there was provided to Nicodemus and to the reader of John an example of how believers in Christ appear to outsiders. ​​ First-century outside observers probably knew little of how Christians became followers of Jesus, and they understood little concerning their eschatological destinies. ​​ But what they could sense was the presence and work on these children of the Spirit in the midst of pagan and Jewish societies. ​​ What they saw and heard from the Christians who were present in their societies was telling as to how they formulated their understandings of Christianity (cf. John 13:35). ​​ Their lives were a witness to an unseen reality. ​​ Is this picture not also an appropriate word for today?” ​​ [Borchert, The New American Commentary, John 1-11, 177]

                • What a challenging word for us today

                • Does our life witness to an unseen reality of being transformed by Jesus Christ?

                • Do our family, friends, and coworkers see that our life (nature) has had a complete overhaul – that we are now controlled by the Spirit of God and not by our human nature?

                • Southern Baptist Memes – “When someone posts a Bible verse, then uses profanity in the next post.” [show the meme]

                • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Make sure that my life reflects a complete overhaul of my human nature.

              • Jesus makes it clear that the work of spiritual birth (being born from above) is not our work, but God’s work through the Holy Spirit

              • “If you have in your heart today any affection for Christ at all, it is because God the Holy Spirit in his sweetness, in his power, in his mercy, and in his grace has been to the cemetery of your soul and has raised you from the dead. (John, 40).” ​​ [R.C. Sproul cited by Carter and Wredberg, 58-59]

          • Seeing or entering the kingdom of God only comes through spiritual birth and not physical birth

        • Clarification (vv. 9-15)

          • Nicodemus needs clarification, because he is still struggling to understand the spiritual over the physical

            • A better translation of Nicodemus’s question may be, “How can these things happen?”

            • This is a total change from what Nicodemus had been teaching his disciples for years

            • He taught that entrance into God’s kingdom came through obeying God’s commands, being zealous for Judaism, submitting to God’s will, etc.

            • Now he is being told that none of that guarantees entrance into heaven (the outward, physical works of man are a result of a human nature that has been completely overhauled by the Spirit of God)

            • The only condition, which is new to Nicodemus, is being born from above

          • Jesus is patient with him

            • He says that as Israel’s preeminent teacher, he should understand these things

            • Jesus won’t go any further in His teaching of Nicodemus or any other person until they believe the earthly things He has been telling them

            • Telling them about heavenly things (miraculous signs) will not convince them to believe in Him (Jesus)

          • Jesus explains His divinity and reason for His authority

            • Jesus could certain tell them about heavenly things, because He has been there

            • He can speak with authority about heavenly things, unlike any one else on earth (no one else had ever gone to heaven and returned to earth to tell about it)

          • Answer to Nicodemus’s question

            • Jesus answers Nicodemus’s question from verse 9, “How can these things happen?” (regeneration, entering the kingdom of God)

            • He first gives an example from Numbers 21:4-9

              • This was probably a familiar story for Nicodemus

              • Jesus was taking him from something that he knew to something that he didn’t know

              • He was using the familiar to explain a new concept to Nicodemus

              • Nicodemus would have recalled that the Israelites, who trusted Moses by faith and looked at the bronze snake in the wilderness, did not die from the poisonous snake bite

              • It required the Israelites to do something by faith

              • For some it probably meant turning completely around and facing the bronze snake

            • Jesus then explains that He would have to be lifted up in a similar way

              • He is alluding to His perfect sacrifice on the cross

              • John 12:32-33, “But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.” ​​ He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die.

              • PRINCIPLE #3 – Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection provides eternal life.

              • Out of God’s great love for us, He provided a way for us to be forgiven of our sins

              • He provided Jesus, who was perfect without sin, to take our place on the cross

              • He was the only One who could satisfy God’s perfect standard

              • Eternal life is for everyone, but it requires that we repent (turn from our sin) and turn to Jesus

              • We have to trust God by faith

              • We have to believe in Jesus’ perfect sacrifice for us on the cross

            • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Receive God’s eternal life by believing in Jesus and His perfect sacrifice for me on the cross.


  • YOU

    • You and I are walking in spiritual darkness, because of our sin

    • Sometimes the physical realm (what we can see and touch) can keep us from understanding the spiritual realm (what is invisible)

    • God is able to change our human nature through His Holy Spirit, so it’s not too late for you

    • Today is the day of salvation!


  • WE

    • These are incredible principles and truths that we should be sharing with our family, friends, and coworkers

    • The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few



“Stephen Baldwin is one of the famous Baldwin brothers, a family of Hollywood actors.


Referring to his newfound faith in Christ, Stephen said, ‘I've never been as excited or happy about where I am in my life. There's no one I know in Hollywood who can say that.’


Stephen's wife came to Christ in 2000 and announced to Stephen, ‘I'm going to be serving Jesus now.’ Baffled at her conversion, Stephen thought, Who does this Jesus dude think he is coming around here?


The events of September 11 were pivotal in his change of mind as he realized that the impossible was possible. As Stephen describes it, ‘It made me say the Bible is true, and Jesus Christ could come back tomorrow.’


How has his life changed? Stephen's work as an actor ‘has largely dried up.’ He won't work in a film that includes adultery, violence, or profanity.


He's traded his Porsche for a Chevy Malibu.

Stephen spends his available time preaching the gospel. He directs and hosts a DVD project aimed at reaching young people through extreme sports.


As for his marriage, Stephen and his wife are now ‘as one.’ Stephen truly is a new creation.


"Baldwin's Great Awakening," The Week (11-5-04), p. 12; submitted by Ted De Hass, Bedford, Iowa






Jessica Abbott of Corban University on October 29, 2017 wrote an article entitled, “I asked 25 people what they are passionate about.” Here is how she introduced her article: For the past few weeks I have been figuring out what it means to find our passions and use them in what makes us ache. In the process I’ve realized all of us have different passions to pour into life. To gain some perspective I’ve asked the people of Facebook the question, “What are you passionate about?” Here are some of those answers: Joy, joy in yourself and finding joy in others, history and the preservation of history, the soul, the mind and how it works, ending abortions, adoption, helping people, helping people find their voice and being a voice for the voiceless, loving people whoever they are and wherever they’re at, creating, music, teaching children. A couple people said their jobs. One who worked at a bridal shop said because they are a part of someone’s special day and can have a positive impact in the favorite moments in their life. Another, a server at Applebee’s, said because she gets to directly interact with people in their daily lives. There were also answers such as sports, making a difference, being real, being a good friend, dogs and finally someone was passionate about chickens. I also looked on the internet to see what makes people angry. Here are some of the top things that make people angry: being ignored, unsolicited advice, being told I am wrong when I am not, people denying my experiences, not feeling heard, being talked over, criticism, nosy people, people that talk during movies at the theater, people refusing to follow directions and bad drivers.


Now of course this forced me to think about what I am passionate about and what makes me angry. I will start with the frivolous and move to the more serious. I am passionate about genealogy and chess. Those are two of my pursuits that would fall under hobbies. Now to the more serious. I am passionate about studying and teaching God’s Word, I am passionate about my relationship with Jesus and with others, I am passionate about prayer and praying for those who are hurting, I am passionate about pointing people to Jesus, and last but not least I am passionate about my wife. Now what makes me angry? Cancer makes me angry. When I look at our prayer request list and see that there are 18 different people with cancer that makes me angry. I pray almost everyday for the eradication of cancer. I also get angry at the senseless taking of life, innocent people being hurt and taken advantage of and the bullying of our children in schools. Finally, homelessness and hunger especially in our own communities makes me angry. That’s why I am so happy that Idaville Church partners with the Gettysburg Soup Kitchen and the Upper Adams Food Pantry on a consistent basis to help those who struggle in that way.


I was talking about this sermon with my wife Judy and I asked her what she was passionate about and what makes her angry. She said she is passionate about helping and supporting vulnerable people. If you did’t know my wife was a social worker for 34 years. When I met her she was working in a group home in Mechanicsburg and over those years she supported individuals who were vulnerable in our society. Now I have had to learn certain terms over the years. Before I met Judy I rarely used the “R” word but especially after I met her it never came out of my mouth even used non-derogatorally. But I must confess it was confusing because every other month the terms changed, one time it would be mentally disabled people and the next time they would be mentally handicapped people and finally it was people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. It could be confusing for me. You see she is passionate about something called social role valorization which means everyone has value and worth and valued social roles in their community, no matter what. Believe me she is passionate about that and if you want to see her angry just say the “R” word. Today, she pursues her passion by supporting students and their families in the cyber-school she works for.


I want you to think about what you are passionate about. What in this world we live in makes you angry? Then I want you to think about what have you done about it? I must confess that I haven’t done enough or at times anything about the things that make me angry. I need to change that and I challenge you all to change that as well.


Today, we are going to look at another well-known story about Jesus in the book of John. This story is significant in that it comes on the heels of our story last week of Jesus turning water into wine. This week Jesus and his disciples go to Jerusalem for the Passover Feast and when he gets to the temple he sees something that makes him angry and he doesn’t hesitate to do something about it. Jesus was passionate about his Father’s honor and there was nothing that was going to get in the way of God being honored and worshipped especially in his own house. This is a story of a housecleaning and it brings us to our big idea this morning which is “that we need to be ready for company.” This morning I am going to share some principles with you that I believe John wants us to remember and take to heart but I am going to call them “pursuits.” But before we go deeper into our scripture this morning and begin to think about what it looks like for us to be ready for company let’s dedicate this time to God.


Let’s pray: Dear God, we ask for your Holy Spirit to fill us this morning as we look into your Word. Help us to open our hearts and give us ears to hear what it is you want us to know, learn and obey. We thank you for the opportunity to worship you this morning. I ask for a burning passion for your honor and for the boldness to stand up for it. In Jesus’ name Amen.


If you would like to follow along, I am starting with verses 12 and 13 of John chapter 2. This is what God’s Word says: 12 After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother and brothers and his disciples. There they stayed for a few days. 13 When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem.


Following the wedding feast in Cana, Jesus, his mother, his brothers and his disciples leave and go down to Capernaum. The phrase “after this” indicates a transition from one narrative to another and tells us what Jesus did immediately following the wedding in Cana. John is still relating to us “days” in the life of the historical Jesus. John wants us to pay attention to what Jesus does in the very beginning of his ministry because it is important and factual.


In between the wedding in Cana and his trip to Jerusalem Jesus and his disciples go to Capernaum, which was about 16 miles from Cana and could be made in one day’s journey. Why, did Jesus go to Capernaum and not back to Nazareth? One, maybe it was because things had changed. Last week we saw his first public display of his deity as he did his first miracle or “sign”, as John called it. We talked about how the relationship between Jesus and his mother had changed and now so had his relationship really with the whole world. He is now going to be about the work of his Father and maybe it was time to distance himself from his family and start to pour into his disciples so they would be ready to take over his ministry when he was gone. If you remember his brothers didn’t believe he was the Messiah at this time. Gangel says, “We may assume that up to this point Jesus had maintained a comfortable relationship with his family but now left them in Galilee and his disciples took the place of his mother and brothers as his constant companions.” Two, Capernaum seems to be his new base of operations for ministry. That may have been because that was where James and John lived as well as Andrew and Peter. Verse 12 states that they only stayed in Capernaum for a “few days” and the reason given is that it was almost time for the Passover and that meant going “up” to Jerusalem. ​​ 


The focus of the story is Jesus, so He is the one specifically mentioned as going up to Jerusalem, but it is reasonable to assume that Jesus’ disciples and His brothers would have all traveled there together. Every male Jew who was 12 years or older was expected to go to Jerusalem for Passover according to the Mosaic Law. The Passover was the most important Jewish feast commemorating God’s dramatic deliverance of the Jews from Egypt on the night of the Exodus, when the angel of death “passed over” the firstborn in homes whose doorposts had been marked with blood.

The Passover was followed by the Feast of Unleavened Bread which lasted for seven days. This was also in commemoration of God’s deliverance of Israel from their bondage in Egypt. Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread were so closely tied together that both were often referred to simply as the Passover. Jerusalem during Passover was the one place every Jew wanted to be at least once in their life. It would have been similar to celebrating New Years in Times Square. It would the place everyone wanted to be for the holiday. If they would have had television, I am sure they would have had live television footage of Passover in Jerusalem all week long.


God commanded that this event be celebrated every year with a partial reenactment of the preparations made on the first Passover. The Jewish people would participate in animal sacrifice, have a symbolic meal and a reflective study of Israel’s salvation. At Passover the Jews were to also do some house cleaning. The day before the feast every Jewish household spent the day meticulously going through their house seeking out any kind of yeast or substance that could cause fermentation and cleaning it from their home. That was an absolute necessity in order to properly celebrate the Passover. They were to also purify or “clean” themselves through sacrificing an animal for their sins and reflecting on what God did for their ancestors in bringing them out of Egypt. They would take part in a symbolic meal which included unleavened bread. In scripture leaven represents the corruption of sin our lives. So, by repenting of their sins and symbolically cleaning their houses of all leaven or sin they were becoming a living sacrifice holy and acceptable to God. Why did God command this of them and what was the company they were to be ready for? One, they were to be different from those around them. These rituals set up by God in the OT showed that they were different from the pagan and Gentile people around them. Two, the Jewish people being God’s chosen people were blessed by God and were to be a blessing to the people around them. They were to point the Gentiles to God and ultimately to the Messiah. These rituals were how they were to be ready for company and the Gentiles were the company they were to be ready for.

What do we normally do when company is coming over to our house? We clean our house don’t we? We vacuum and mop and we pick up our stuff and put it where it belongs. We make sure the dishes are washed and put away. We make sure the cobwebs are gone and the house smells clean. As Christians we also need to do some house cleaning so we are ready for company. We need to get rid of the yeast and fermentation in our lives and live holy and set apart lives for God every day. If we strive for personal holiness in our lives then when we come together on Sunday mornings that will spill over into our worship to God here. So my question this morning for Idaville Church is are we ready for company? Do we point those who come into our house of worship toward Christ or away from Christ? Are we pursuing holiness personally every day? If we are pursuing holiness everyday then when we come to God’s house on Sundays our company will see that and I believe will want that for themselves and will want to hang around to learn how to have it for themselves.


That brings us to our first pursuit this morning which is “Pursuing holiness is important so we can fully worship God.” It also coincides with the first next step on the back of your communication card which is “to pursue holiness daily so that we are ready for company.”


Next we are going to see what Jesus saw that day that made him so angry. Follow along as I read verses 14-16. 14 In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. 15 So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16 To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!”


Now I want to give you some background on the temple. The temple area itself was broken up into several courts by walls and buildings. Each court became more restricted as you got closer to the Temple itself and the Holy of Holies within the temple. Steps led up to the temple mount and to the outer most court referred to as the Court of the Gentiles. This area was open to anyone from any nation to come and worship. At the entrances to the next inner court, the Court of the Women, there were signs inscribed in Greek and Latin that warned Gentiles that to enter into the next court would be upon pain of death. Beyond the Court of the Women was the Court of Israel into which only Jewish men could enter. This court was in front of the Altar. The Court of the Priests surrounded the Temple itself, and only the High Priest could go into the Holy of Holies within the Temple, and then only once a year.

So, as Jesus came onto the temple mount and into the Court of the Gentiles, his senses were not filled with the activities of people worshiping God. They were instead assaulted by the sights, sounds and smells of a street bazaar. There were bulls, oxen, goats, sheep, and cages full of pigeons and turtle doves for sale to be used for sacrifices. Other men were hawking incense and grains to be used in offerings.


The sale of animals to be used as sacrifices rendered a valuable service to those pilgrims who traveled to the Passover from afar. They could buy the animals on site rather than lead or carry them for long distances. Cattle and sheep were needed for various kinds of offerings. Doves were required for the purification of women especially if they were poor and for the cleansing of those with certain kinds of skin diseases and other purposes.


Also, there were others sitting at tables exchanging money. Again, the moneychangers likewise rendered a service. Visitors to Jerusalem, people from all over the Roman Empire, needed their money exchanged into the local currency because the temple tax, paid by every conscientious Jewish male of twenty years or more had to be paid in either Jewish or Tyrian coins (because of the high purity of silver).


But this was not the way it had always been in the temple courts. It used to be that the sale of the sacrificial animals and the money changers were outside the temple courts completely across the Kidron Valley on the slopes of the Mount of Olives. But in Jesus’ day things had changed and they were set up in the Court of the Gentiles. Convenience had seemed to take over. It is true that they provided a service for those who needed an animal for sacrifice and those who needed to exchange their foreign money for Jewish money but this had become something more than providing a needed service to the Passover worshippers. The merchants gained access to what was nearly a monopoly. All the animals that were to be sacrificed had to be inspected by an official examiner to be sure they met the Levitical qualifications. A fee would be paid to this examiner, and if he did not like your animal, you had to bring another. Corruption was prevalent with the result that the people basically had to buy their sacrificial animals from the High Priest Annas’ merchants in Jerusalem at greatly inflated prices. Also, you were to give the money changers a “tip” for exchanging your money and that “tip” could be the equivalent to extortion. MacArthur says, “What had begun as a service to the worshippers had, under the corrupt rule of the chief priests, degenerated into exploitation and usury.”

This was the scene that Jesus came into when He arrived at the Temple. It would have been a chaotic scene. The corruption and the taking advantage of the Jews who lived outside Jerusalem and the foreigners who had traveled there was bad enough, but I think what got Jesus angry the most was that all this was being done in the Court of the Gentiles. This was supposed to be the place where those who did not know God could come and learn of Him and be instructed in how to worship Him. It was supposed to be the place where the worship of God was showcased before the unbelieving that they might believe. It was where the Godly gentile could worship the one true God. Instead, because of the chaos and the noise they were not able to worship God reverently or in a peaceful atmosphere. People who desperately needed to know God were being kept from exactly that.


We see in verse 15 that Jesus had a very strong reaction to what He encountered. He picks up some of the rope that would have been lying around with so many animals being led to sacrifice. He knots some of them together and makes a whip. He then proceeds to drive out all of these people from the Temple court. Some commentators have said they believe that the whip was made out of straw from the animal bedding. But I don’t think that a whip of straw would be able to drive animals and people out. Jesus would have had to wield something more substantial than straw. And I can’t imagine that these people who were making a lot of money in their business and who vastly outnumbered Jesus even if all His disciples were with Him, would have simply left the court because Jesus asked them too and threatened them with cattle bedding?


Jesus’ anger is very plain and evident in His pouring out the coins of the moneychangers and overturning their tables. This is a man who is passionate and angry and doing something about it. Remember that Jesus would have been working as a carpenter, the trade of earthly father Joseph. Jesus would not have been a soft and weak man. He would have had strong, hard muscles from many years of physical labor. In fact, one of the things I learned about carpenters in Jesus’ day was that it would have included work with stone masonry as well. I doubt the average merchant would have wanted to get into a physical altercation with an angry carpenter in that day.


In verse 16, it seems that Jesus takes a different approach with those who were selling the doves. He said “Take these things away; stop making My Father’s house a house of merchandise.” What do you think these merchants of birds did? They probably would have complied very quickly. Jesus’ rebuke to them is stinging. The statement “Stop making my Father’s house a house of merchandise” not only reproaches them for their evil practice, but it also declares to them His identity. The Temple is the house of Jesus’ Father. Jesus is declaring His deity and that His Father is God.


But Jesus’ anger was under control. He wasn't raging furiously, striking out against everybody around him. In fact, our scripture never mentions Jesus actually touching a single person. Carson says, “Jesus’ physical action was forceful but not cruel. One does not drive out cattle and sheep without a whip of cords.


But he does make his point, which was clear: do not turn a place which is devoted to the worship of God and the cleansing of people, into a flea market. The word John uses literally means "emporium," a place where people are concerned about making a fast buck. Burge says, “Stop turning my Father’s house into a market” would be a prophetic command to return the temple to its intended use: worship, prayer, instruction and pious sacrifice. The temple was the place where human values were to be considered supreme.


Jesus had been in Jerusalem many times during the years before his public ministry began. He had been to the temple during Passover and had seen many of the same sights which he saw on this occasion, but he had taken no action in response. Why now? What has changed? This time coming on the heels of the wedding in Cana where he showed his deity he now comes to Jerusalem as the Messiah. And on this day he would fulfill Malachi's prophecy about the Messiah. The background for what Jesus did when he arrived in Jerusalem is found in Malachi 3:1-3. This is what God’s Word says, 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. 2 “But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire And like launderer’s soap. 3 He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver; He will purify the sons of Levi, And purge them as gold and silver, That they may offer to the LORD An offering in righteousness” (Malachi 3:1-3, NKJV).

This was a prophetic invitation to worship God from the heart without distraction. What was happening in the temple that day was distracting the Gentiles from being able to worship God properly. The Jewish people were not being a blessing to the nations and pointing people to God. Instead they were putting distractions in their way so they could not worship God properly. They were actually pointing people away from God. What are we doing at Idaville Church that distracts from not only ourselves being able to worship properly but the company that comes in from the community to worship God with us? What distracts you from worship on a Sunday morning? Because just like a lack of personal holiness can keep us from worshipping God properly so can distractions. Maybe you come to worship tired and weary. Maybe you are distracted by personal preferences to worship. Maybe you are distracted by the plans you have for Sunday afternoon. Maybe you come with heavy burdens for yourself or family members and friends. We have a lot of people in our church family who have multiple family members who have physical problems. Those problems can be a distraction from worshipping properly. Maybe you are distracted because the only reason you come to church is to check that box off or you just don’t really want to be here. It is important to put off those distractions. Why? Because our company can tell if we are distracted when we are here and that can distract them from worshipping properly. But just like Jesus who drove the animals, the merchants and money changers from the temple that day, we can pursue distractions in ourselves and our church and drive them out of our worship. Which brings me to our second “pursuit” this morning which is “We need to pursue distractions and drive them out of our worship so we can fully worship God.” I will follow that up with the second next step on the back of your communication card which is to “pursue distractions and drive them out of our worship so that we are ready for company.”

Why was Jesus so passionate for his Father’s house that he did the necessary housecleaning in the temple? It was because he wanted the Gentiles to come to God and to be in relationship with him. That happened at the temple. That was where they could go to learn God’s Word and grow in their relationship with him. That is why “pursue disciples” is on this banner behind me. We should be pursuing those in our neighborhoods who don’t know Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. We should be welcoming them into our worship and into our study of God’s Word and helping them to grow in their relationship with Him.

The cleansing of the temple would not go unnoticed though and there would have been an immediate reaction. In verses 17-18 we see two reactions. Follow along as I read verses 17-18. 17 His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.” 18 The Jews then responded to him, “What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?”

First, we see the reaction of the disciples. They remembered Psalm 69:9 which said, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” Psalm 69 is a psalm of David. It is a prayer for his deliverance, due to his piety. The psalm speaks of David’s imminent danger due to the enemies of God who hate him for his passionate devotion to God, and seek his death. Later portions of this psalm depict events that occur at the crucifixion of our Lord (see Ps. 69:21). It seems clear in this psalm that there is a prophecy of our Lord’s sacrificial death, due to His zeal for pure worship and his passion for the things of God. It was a prophecy that the Messiah when he came would have zeal for the house of God. The word zeal means having deep concern for the honor of something. Milne says, “Jesus is driven by a burning all-consuming zeal for the honor and glory of his Father in the quality of worship offered by his people in the place associated with his holy presence.”

The description here is that it “consumed” Him. It was eating Him up. He was incensed and filled with holy rage with what he saw. Jesus had gone to church and what He saw made Him mad. Jesus was committed to the cause of God and it took up His time, energy and thoughts. His actions were all directed toward the work of the Kingdom of God.

As Christians, we are to have a zeal for all that is associated with God. We need to have a fervent devotion, a passionate commitment to Him and a jealousy for upholding His righteous character. We should be consumed with Him and therefore living for Him daily. This means being in relationship with him, daily communing with him and obeying his commandments.

Zeal carries you the extra step when others would have quit. It moves you to action when others are fearful. It keeps your focus on what is really important in life rather than being distracted by the ordinary. A concern for God’s honor will make us better worshippers. Tragically, most professing Christians separate their “religious” life from everyday life. Jesus is Lord on Sunday morning, but He is given little thought the rest of the week. A true Christian is seen in Galatians 2:20. This is what god’s Word says, 20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. It should be considered normal, not radical, for a Christian to be consumed with Jesus and living for Him so that everything in life is seen in terms of honoring and glorifying God. This brings us to our third “pursuit” this morning which is “we need to pursue a passion for all things associated with God and his honor.”

Second, we see the reaction of the Jews. These were probably temple leaders, temple police and/or the Sanhedrin who arrived to investigate the commotion. As the legal authorities, the Sanhedrin had every right to question the credentials of someone taking such bold action in the temple complex. It was common for people to ask for proof of a prophet’s divine legitimation. This shows, though, that they harboured at least a suspicion that Jesus was a heaven-sent prophet. They would have had other recourses if they thought he was just an emotionally unstable person causing havoc.

They knew by his act of coming to the temple and beginning the work of purification that Jesus was claiming to be the Messiah but they also expected the Messiah to do great and wonderful things. Now they wanted to see some great “sign” to prove his claim. The irony was that Jesus’ action of cleaning house in the temple was the sign. Their response shows they were less concerned with pure worship and a right approach to God than they were with questions of precedent and authority. This exposed the wickedness of their hearts.

It is interesting that they didn’t arrest Jesus or challenge the wrongness of what he did, they simply didn’t think he had the authority to make the changes. They didn’t think he had the authority to kick them out. They knew that their greedy, corrupt commercialization of temple worship was wrong, but they obstinately refused to admit it. I like what Carson says, “They were asking the wrong question. A sign that would satisfy them would have shown God to be nothing more than a show horse doing powerful stunts to maintain allegiance and that kind of allegiance is not worth having.

In verse 19 and 20 we see Jesus’ reply and the Jews rebuttal. 19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” 20 They replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?”

Jesus answers their question but not in the way they expected. The fact was he had already answered their question, without saying a word. But he responds by saying, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” Since they were standing in the physical Temple, that is all they can think of, so they answer, “It took forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it up in three days?”

Jesus’ response is actually very pointed and powerful and the meanings interwined. The Jews were already destroying the purpose of the Temple by their desecration of it into a market place. When they would crucify Jesus, they would also end the purpose of the temple. Recall that at Jesus’ death, the veil in the Holy of Holies was torn from the top down. The final sacrifice had been paid and man could now approach God through Christ instead of the Temple sacrificial system. When the Jews crucified Jesus, they also destroyed the Temple system, and three days later when Jesus rose from the dead, He laid the foundation for a new type of temple, called the church.

In verses 21 and 22 we see John the Evangelist with an “aha” moment. The Gospel of John was written probably at the earliest in 90 AD. This gave John almost 60 years to come up with the words that he wanted to use to tell his readers about the time Jesus cleaned house and its significance. Follow along as I read verses 21 and 22. 21 But the temple he had spoken of was his body. 22 After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.

We see many times John in his Gospel giving an explanation that clears up any misunderstandings. John says that what Jesus is referring to is “his body” as the living abode of God and in that “temple” the ultimate sacrifice would take place and within three days of death and burial he would rise from the dead.” John is the first to admit that the disciples didn’t understand what Jesus was saying at the time. It was not until after the resurrection that the disciples had a greater understanding and trust in what the Scriptures and Jesus had said. Then they were able to make sense of this prophecy and recognize Jesus’ resurrection power as a clear indication of his deity. They were aided in this understanding by the Holy Spirit.

Now we come to verses 23-25. Most commentators say these three verses are a bridge that leads us from what just took place, Jesus cleaning his Father’s House to the story of Nicodemus coming to Jesus at night that starts in chapter 3 verse 1 which Pastor Stuart will bring to you next Sunday. Follow along as I read those verses. 23 Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, many people saw the signs he was performing and believed in his name. 24 But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. 25 He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person.

We see that Jesus stayed in Jerusalem throughout the rest of the feast and continued to minister to the people. It says he did other signs, but there is no indication that these affected the Jews that challenged Jesus about cleansing the temple. It did make an impression on others, though, and they believed in Jesus in the sense that they began to accept what he was saying. But they did not have a saving faith at this point as verses 24 and 25 indicate. Jesus did not trust them because He knew what was in their heart and how fickle people can be. It reminds us that those who shouted “hosanna” to Jesus on Palm Sunday would also be shouting “crucify him” a few days later.

We see Jesus’ omniscience here. He is all-knowing and he knew what was in man and did not need testimony from anyone else to know what is in a person’s heart. Jesus knows what is in our hearts as well, and yet He still loved us so much that He died in our place. He knows all our failings and still loves us. But never forget that His love also means that He will not allow us to continue as we are. He wants to change us to be more like Himself. He wants to come into us and clean our house so we can worship him with our lives more fully and be ready for company.

If we are going to be ready for company we need to strive for the aforementioned pursuits. We need to pursue personal holiness, we need to pursue the distractions in our lives and drive them out especially when we come to worship, we need to pursue disciples, those who need to hear about Jesus and need his salvation and we need to pursue passion for all things associated with God and his honor.”

We need to examine our hearts and our minds and answer the questions: Are we concerned with God’s honor? Are we passionate about the things of God and what he is passionate about? Do we get upset when God’s name is dragged through the mud? Do we get upset when “Christians” do things that give God a bad name? Do we get upset when people are kept from being able to worship God? Do we get upset about people heading to hell because nobody tells them there is a Savior that loves them and wants a saving relationship with them? What can we do about it? What should we do about it? I can’t answer that for you, but I do have to answer that question for myself, though. But once we do we need to follow Jesus’ example and do something about it. Stand up and get angry if that is what it takes, without sinning, of course. It takes a house cleaning within each of us and it takes a house cleaning in God’s house. I want to finish with this video that Kim Melton showed me on Wednesday. I like how God works. I really didn’t have a conclusion to this sermon today at the time and she showed me this. I felt almost immediately that this was what we all need to hear this morning. This helps to practically see what zeal and passion for the things of God look like.


WOW!!! That blows me away and convicts me. I confess I do not have that kind of passion for God and his honor. But I want it and I hope you do too. You see the front page of our website on the screen with our church’s mission statement on it. It says that Idaville UB Church exists to provide opportunities to reach the lost and make disciples in the greater Idaville community so individuals can passionately pursue the Savior. It is summed up in Pursue, Grow & Multiply Disciples. Those Chinese Christians are passionately pursuing the Savior. Can we do no less? That brings us to our last next step on the back on your communication card which is “to passionately pursue the Savior so we are ready for company.”

As we prepare our hearts for our final song and the ushers prepare to take up the communication cards let’s pray: Dear Heavenly Father, we come to you with repentant hearts. It is so easy to drift into a worship that is convenient for us, a worship that is about our comfort and preferences. We know it makes you angry. We want to be worshippers that joyfully sacrifice for you glory. We want to be worshippers that have your heart for the lost. We want to be worshippers that have a passion for the things you are passionate about. Help us to stand up and get angry when your honor is being threatened. We ask that you go before us this day and we ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.



Most of you are probably familiar with the three Back to the Future movies.  If not, here is some background: The franchise follows the adventures of a high school student, Marty McFly, played by Michael J. Fox, and an eccentric scientist, Dr. Emmett L. Brown, played by Christopher Lloyd, as they use a DeLorean time machine to time travel to different periods in the history of Hill Valley, California.

The interesting thing about these movies were the futuristic inventions that we saw. When the second Back to the Future movie came out in 1989 it took Marty into the future to 2015 and showed off many new-fangled gadgets that we were all hoping to see one day. The first gadget was finger-print-recognition. Throughout ‘Back To the Future,’ fingerprint recognition is used in multiple ways. One of the ways was to unlock the doors to a house. In recent years, we’ve also been using it for a variety of reasons. Locking access to confidential rooms is one, but a more common one is to unlock our phones. Fingerprint scanners are no longer seen as ‘amazing’ by many, but it’s certainly amazing that Back to the Future predicted them!

Another gadget was Hands-Free Gaming. There’s a scene in the film series where Marty McFly plays an arcade game. Others watch on and make sarcastic comments about the need to actually use your hands to play. While gaming hasn’t become totally hands-free, this type of technology has been implemented. Microsoft’s Kinect is particularly notable, offering games that only need motion detection to function. With the rise of virtual reality in recent times, who knows how long it’ll be before we don’t have to use our hands at all.

Another was drones. While we might not have reached the point of having personal drones on a wide scale, that time will surely come. ‘Back To the Future’ predicted that we’d be using drones for a number of reasons, including capturing images. Well, that latter part has definitely come true, as YouTube videos are populated with drone captures. Drones are still in their infancy, and their potential is far from been realized to this day.

Lastly is Video Phones. There’s a scene in the movie where Marty McFly gets fired from the comfort of his own home. This happens via a video conference system that connects multiple people to a video chat. While today’s technology isn’t exactly as it was imagined back then, it’s actually much better! The rise of Skype, Facebook Live and much more has given birth to a wealth of possibilities. We take the ability to talk on Facetime for granted, but it’s an incredible luxury and blessing for us to enjoy.

Why did this movie and its inventions fascinate us? Maybe it was because those things were too good to be true. But I also think they fascinated us because we could imagine the benefit and the blessing it would be to our lives in using them. I personally think about skype and Facetime. I actually used skype a few years ago for a youth leader cohort I was in. We would all get together once a month and talk about different trends in youth ministry and help each other answer the hard questions we were wrestling with. People in the group were from all over the United States. I was from PA, one was from TN, another was from KY and the person leading the cohort was from California. This was a great benefit and blessing to me because I didn’t have to travel to a central location possibly hundreds miles away to meet with the cohort every month.

I think about some other inventions that have arisen in my lifetime that could be a blessing to me if I was willing to use it. One is the self-checkout scanner at Giant. For some reason, I am hesitant to use it. I know it will be faster and I won’t have to stand in those long lines at the regular checkout lanes but I still refuse to do it. I believe that I will mess it up and cause more problems and take up more time than if I just went through the regular checkout lanes. Until I overcome the hesitancy the use it I will never believe in its blessings and benefits.

I wonder what are some of the new-fangled inventions and innovations you have purchased over the years to replace the old versions you had in your home before? Maybe you were skeptical to use them at first, as well. Raise your hand if you had a black and white TV back in the day. Now keep your hands raised if you then replaced that black and white model with a color TV? Nowadays some of you may gone from the old color TV to a new smart TV and of course now we can even watch TV on our cell phones.

That brings me to the next invention and innovation, the phone. How many remember using a rotary phone? How many then replaced that rotary phone with a push button model? Of course, even though it was a new innovation, it still had a cord attached to it. Then we had the phones that could be carried all over the house as long as you didn’t get too far away from the base. Now we have cell phones that we can carry in our pocket and take anywhere our lives take us. To Alexander Graham Bell today’s cell phone would be nothing less than a miracle. But imagine that you decided to live without a cell phone. You continued to use the old rotary phone or push button phone that kept you tethered to a wall in your house. You would never believe that there would be so many benefits and that you could be so blessed by having a device that you could use to call your family or AAA if you broke down hundreds of miles away from home. It almost takes an obedience to our culture to use such devices as a cell phone or the self-checkout at Giant before we can be blessed by it and come to believe that they can be used for our own good. Over our lifetimes it has been “out with the old and in with the new” when it has come to our tv’s, phones, radios and many other inventions and innovations. Most of these innovations if we are willing to believe in them and use them will bless our lives and make them better.

Today, we are going to look at a familiar story in John 2:1-11. In this story, Jesus goes to a wedding with his family and his disciples. While they are there a problem arises in which Jesus saves the day by doing a behind the scenes miracle that shows his love for people and his abundant grace. On the surface it is Jesus’ first miracle. It isn’t flashy or really a seemingly important miracle such as later on when he raises Lazarus from the dead but below the surface John relates some important principles that he wants us to take to heart from this simple story. One such principle from this story this morning is our big idea which is that “our obedience brings blessing that leads to belief.”

Before we dive into our scripture today let’s pray: Dear Heavenly Father, I pray that you would pour out your Holy Spirit on us this morning as we dive into your Word. Help us to glean from it your principles and your truths. Help us to hear your words, help us to discern what you want each of us to learn, and help us to share what you teach us through your word this morning with those we come in contact with this week. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

If you want to follow along, we are in John 2:1-11. Starting with verses 1 and 2, this is what God’s Word says: On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding.

These verses set the scene for our story this morning. The first thing we see is that John is keeping track of time. If you remember last week Pastor Stuart showed us John keeping track of time in chapter 1, verses 35 and 43 with “the next day.” Here we see “on the third day.” In the Bible, “on the third day”, always means “the day after tomorrow.” So this wedding took place “two days after” the call of Nathanael. Last week Pastor Stuart talked about the call of Nathanael by Jesus. In John 1:49, Nathanael confessed that Jesus was the “Son of God, the King of Israel.” Jesus then in John 1:50 told Nathanael, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.” This promise made to Nathanael of “greater things” begins to find fulfillment immediately in this passage as the glory of Jesus will be revealed to his disciples. What is important about the time frame in this passage is that less than a week has gone by from the time Jesus appears in the desert where John the Baptist declares that Jesus is “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” and the wedding at Cana. It is like John wants his readers to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus is a real historical figure, God incarnate, and relates to them and to us a “week in the life of Jesus” to help us believe it.

Cana of Galilee was eight or nine miles north of Nazareth. It is also where Nathanael was from, which gives us another link with the immediately preceding verses in chapter 1. We are told that a wedding takes place there. Cana was a small village and so the wedding was probably a community-wide event. We are also told that Jesus’ mother was at the wedding and that Jesus and his disciples had been invited to the wedding. We can also gather from later on in verse 12 that at least Jesus’ brothers and maybe his sisters were at the feast as well. This may have meant that the wedding involved relatives or friends of the family. The Coptic gospels that did not make it into the Holy Bible tells us that tradition is that Mary was a sister of the groom’s mother. Another of these gospels says the groom is actually John the Evangelist whose mother was Salome, a sister of Mary. We do not know for sure who the groom is but this story is definitely an eyewitness account. It is important to note that the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry takes place in a very natural setting, one of the timeless celebrations in human history, a wedding. Jesus didn’t shy away from social events and interaction with society.

A village wedding feast in first century Palestine was a really notable occasion and a major social event. Unlike modern weddings, which are traditionally paid for by the bride’s family, the groom was responsible for the expenses of the celebration. The wedding festivities lasted a lot longer than one day and usually as long as a week. After the feast the wedding ceremony would take place and then they would be conducted to their new home by the light of flaming torches, as it would be dark by this time, and with a canopy over their heads. They were taken the long way around so as many people could see them as possible and wish them well. Once home they did not go away on a honeymoon but stayed at home and had open house for a week. They wore crowns and were treated like kings and queens. In this life of poverty this festivity and joy was one of the supreme occasions in their lives. It was in a happy time like this that Jesus shared.

So that is our scene this morning, follow along as I read verses 3-5 which will give us the situation that arises in our story. When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.” “Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

It seems that Mary was more than just a guest at the wedding and that she possibly held a special place at the feast. This would make sense if she was the aunt of the groom. It is possible that she had something to do with the arrangements because she was worried when the wine ran out and took initiative to solve the problem.

Why would this be such a problem? For a Jewish feast wine was essential. The Rabbi said, “without wine there is no joy.” Usually at these feasts people did not get drunk as that would have been disgraceful but hospitality was a sacred duty. Wine was a symbol. Its absence would mar such a joyous occasion as a wedding feast. The wine supply would be a major consideration since the wedding celebrations sometimes lasted nearly a week.

Running out of wine would have been shameful for the bride and groom. They would have been humiliated. It represented a social disaster in the first century. There were even known to have been lawsuits by the bride’s family and or the guests in these circumstances. Disgrace, humiliation, insult, dishonor and more would be brought upon the family with such carelessness as to allow this to happen.

So when the wine runs out Mary turns to Jesus to help her with this dilemma. That is when we often turn to God as well. This is a helpful model of intercessory prayer. We often turn to God when we or someone we know runs out of something such as strength, money or options. We turn to God when we run out of patience, joy or hope. We turn to God when we are feeling beat-up, burned out and when our sin has found us out and we realize we need help. When we have a need or know of someone else who has a need we should take it to God in prayer laying the need before him and trusting him to respond according to his sovereignty. The good news of the gospel is that God meets us in the very place of our need even if the need is something as seemingly unimportant as running out of wine at a wedding. This brings us to our first principle that I want us to remember from this story this morning. That is that God cares about every detail of our lives. This also brings us to our first next step on the back of your communication card. My next step is to bring to God in prayer every need we or others in our lives have no matter how big or small and trust him to take care of them.

In verse 4 we see Jesus’ response to his mother, “Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus’ reply has been taken as discourteous by some but in that culture it wouldn’t have been. It was a common conversational phrase that when spoken gently would have been a term of endearment. His response though has been confusing to commentators. Was he rebuking Mary for her implied request? Was he relieving her of responsibility by implying “I will take care of it?” or was he responding with a “What would you like me to do?”

“Why do you involve me?” seems to contain a note of correction. The Greek literally reads, “What to me and to you, woman?” This question asks rhetorically what the two parties have in common, and has the effect of distancing them. What they had in common was their relationship as mother and son. Perhaps Jesus wanted to emphasize to Mary that with her remark they had come into a new relationship. Think about what Mary must have gone through the last thirty years. In Luke 2:19, it says, “But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.” Ever since the angel came to her and told her she was to be the mother of the Messiah until now she had wondered about her son and it may have been natural for Mary to want some public revelation that her son was the Messiah. Jesus seems to be saying, however,” What you expect out of this will not occur. I am on a divine timetable and the revelation of my purpose will not happen today. In John when Jesus talked about “his hour” it was referring to his crucifixion on the cross and that was not to happen at that specific time and place. “My hour has not yet come” carries a double meaning: It is not time to intervene yet and it is not yet time for showing my glory, but God’s timetable did allow for Jesus to begin giving evidence of his calling by performing this local miracle. So while the hour of his sacrifice on the cross is “not yet come” it was already putting demands upon him. This would be Jesus’ first opportunity to work under the heavenly Father’s authority and through the Holy Spirit’s power to produce a miraculous sign.

What Mary and Jesus had in common in their relationship was no longer to be what it had been. This exchange seems to mark a change in the relationship between Jesus and his mother. It was still a very special relationship but is now seen in light of his Father’s mission and the shadow of the cross. Jesus cannot act under her authority as a son but must instead follow the course that has been determined for him by God. I wonder if Jesus’ reply was something akin to “you know if I do this miracle everything changes” because once I perform a miracle in public people will be forced to decide “what will you do with the Christ?” and that would include his mother. The relationship that was mother and son would now be changed to a relationship of Christ-follower and the Christ.

In verse 5 we see that Mary is undeterred by the mild rebuke, and aware that Jesus was not saying no to her request and that he would take whatever action was necessary. She tells the servants to “do whatever he tells you.” Mary comes to Jesus as his mother, and is reproached, but then she responds as a believer, and her faith is honored.

“Do whatever he tells you” is a timeless spiritual principle that lives on through the last 2000 years of church history. Mary’s faith stood strong and she was confident in Jesus as she told the servants to do whatever he said. Mary knew that Jesus could do whatever was necessary as long as the servants obeyed. This is true of us today. If we as servants of Christ obey and trust the power of Jesus, God is capable of any results. Doing whatever Jesus commands is for John the Evangelist the essence of discipleship. Which brings us to our second next step on the back of your communication card. My next step is to do whatever God tells me to do and to trust in his power. Mary having the authority to order the servants to do whatever Jesus told them to is again some proof that she had an important role in this wedding feast.

Now that we have set the scene and have assessed the situation, next we will see how Jesus was going to supply the need of more wine. Follow along as I read verses 6-10: Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.” They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside 10 and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”

We see that nearby, probably at the door to the home, were six stone water jars each holding from twenty to thirty gallons for a total of anywhere from 120 to 180 gallons of water. These stone water pots would have been used for two purposes. One, to cleanse the feet upon entering the house and two, for the washing of hands. John, explains for the Greeks, that these jars were to provide water for the purifying ceremonies of the Jews. Jewish law required that hands be ceremonially washed before a meal and between each course. If the Jewish law was not heeded to in this way then the hands were technically unclean.

Up to this point I doubt that either the servants, Mary, or Jesus’ newly-acquired disciples have a clue as to what Jesus is about to do. Jesus tells the servants to fill the six stone water pots to the brim. Probably to show that nothing else but water went into them and that what followed was indeed a miracle of transformation. When the six stone pots are filled, Jesus instructs the servants to draw out some of the “water” from one of the pots and to serve it to the master of the banquet. The master of the banquet was kind of a head waiter whose job would have been to run the feast correctly, seat people and taste the food and drink. Now, here is where Mary’s words to the servants are put to the test.

I am not sure we can fully understand just how difficult an assignment this was for these servants. It was one thing to fill the stone waterpots, which was probably a part of their responsibilities. But who would ever think of someone drinking this “water?” Imagine working for a caterer who is serving a very large group of people at a banquet. In the kitchen, one of the large cooking pots falls to the floor, and half of the gravy spills out onto the floor. One of the employees manages to scoop up most of the gravy from the floor, which he then pours into the serving pitchers. Would you let a waiter pour it on your potatoes if you knew where that “gravy” had been? I don’t think so.

Those of you who are campers have probably stayed in a remote campsite where the water comes from a well, but is not pure enough to drink. You look for signs there that clearly differentiate “potable” water from that which is not. You would not think of drinking water that is not entirely pure. You may wash your hands with it, but you would certainly not drink it. This ceremonial cleansing “water” may not have been considered suitable for drinking which was why wine was to be drunk at such times. I doubt that any devout Jew would have considered drinking water from one of those six stone pots.

With this in mind one can better imagine what it must have been like for the servants when they finished filling the stone waterpots and returned to Jesus for further instructions. Not one of them could have ever imagined that Jesus would tell them to now take that water to the master of the banquet for him to taste. In absolute unbelief they must have thought, “I know Mary said to do whatever Jesus said, but surely He can’t be serious! We are to serve this “water” to the master of the banquet? When he finds out it is only water, and not wine, he’ll have our jobs. And if he finds out where this water came from, we’re really in big trouble.”

Jesus does not wave his arms over the waterpots, commanding the water to become wine. It appears that He never even touched the water or the pots. Jesus does not even tell them that the water has become wine, or that it is about to do so. As far as they know, Jesus is instructing them to serve water, ceremonial cleansing water, to the master of the banquet no less! This must have been horrifying to them!

As far as we know, the servants immediately obey Jesus. We read of no hesitation, no words of protest. The servants would have known they were handling water when they began to serve the wine, starting with the master of the banquet. The suspense of those moments between the time the master of the banquet drinks the wine and the time he responds must have been sheer torture for the servants. He sniffs the cup, and then sips. He then calls for the bridegroom—what is he about to say? The scenarios which played in the heads of the servants would have made interesting reading.

We have to conclude that the water became wine somewhere between the kitchen and the head table at the banquet. This demonstrates great faith and obedience on the part of the servants. Imagine who would have been blamed if it was just water that the servants brought out? This again reminds us of our big idea that “our obedience brings blessing that leads to belief.”

The master of the banquet is astonished when he tastes the water which had become wine. He called the groom over since it was his parents who were responsible for the feast and tells him he is surprised the best wine came last. It was normal in that day to serve the better wine first and when the palates were dulled serve inferior wine when the guests wouldn’t have been able to tell. I like how MacArthur sums up the water turned into wine by Jesus: This was probably the sweetest and freshest wine ever tasted. It did not come from the normal process of fermentation but Jesus brought it into existence from nothing. Truly this was evidence that Jesus was the Creator as we saw in John 1:3, “In him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.”

This was not just a sensational miracle designed to amaze his audience with his power. All of Jesus’ miracles met specific needs such as opening the eyes of the blind, or feeding hungry people. This miracle met the genuine need of the family who otherwise faced a social catastrophe.

By attending a wedding and performing his first miracle there, Jesus sanctified both the institution of marriage and the ceremony itself. That Jesus attended the celebration reveals his ministry to be markedly different from John the Baptist. Instead of being a voice in the wilderness, Jesus had the more difficult task of mingling socially with the people and ministering to them in their daily lives.

The quantity of wine in these stone jars would have certainly been enough to supply a large number of people for several days. Tenney says that in quality and quantity the new made wine more than satisfied the needs and taste of those who attended the feast and the leftover wine also provided the bride and the groom with a generous wedding present. That brings us to a second principle we can take away from our story this morning that Christ abundantly supplies all the needs of his people.

In verse 11 we see the significance of this miracle. Follow along as I read that verse. 11 What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

This was the first of seven miracles in the first twenty chapters of John. John’s word for miracles is “signs’ which is defined as a wonder with a meaning behind it. For John these “signs” are special actions by Jesus which reveal his glory to those who believe in him and which confront others with the need to decide “who is this Jesus?” John is concerned with Jesus and his significance and the significance behind these signs. These signs unveil that God is at work in Jesus and indeed is present in him.

We see two results of Jesus’ first miracle? One, Jesus revealed his glory, which means he puts his deity on display, by this miraculous sign. John 1:14 says, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only son, who came from the father, full of grace and truth.” Two, his disciples believed in him. Now they certainly had some faith before but now it was strengthened, solidified and stabilized. Now they were ready to follow him anywhere. Belief in Jesus as the Son of God and Savior of the world is a major theme in the Gospel of John. In the chapter 1, verse 12 John writes, “to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” and near the end of his gospel, John in chapter 20, verse 31 states that the purpose of the gospel, the reason it was written, was that “you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

Those were the outward manifestations of the miracle but what about the underlying meaning that John wants us to get from this story this morning. I think we see the principle of “out with the old and in with the new” here. ​​ The ceremonial washing of hands for which these jars had always been used was put aside and replaced with something new. Jesus came to fulfill the Mosaic Law and to exchange it for a higher law, the law of grace. Jesus would fulfill ceremonial cleansing with complete, spiritual, and eternal cleansing of his own blood on the cross. You could say that Jesus changed the old water of the law into the new wine of grace. This reflects the words of John the Evangelist in chapter 1 verse 17: “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”

The continual need for cleansing water reminded the Israelites that they were constantly unclean. But Jesus would offer his cleansing blood as the wine that would satisfy forever. Contrast that for us today in that we accept Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for our sins as atonement once for all. Hebrews 10:10-14 says, 10 And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 11 Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when this priest (talking about Jesus) had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. 14 For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.

We do not need to continually wash ourselves because Jesus did it for us on the cross. We need to only believe and be saved.

I wonder if when Jesus held the cup of wine at the Last Supper and talked about the new covenant poured out for them, did those disciples remember the wedding in Cana where old covenant water became new covenant wine.

I want to close with this illustration: In March, 2004, dozens of rescuers were looking for 39 Boy Scouts and their leaders trapped by tons of snow. An avalanche in the high country of Utah's Logan Canyon had covered the scouts, and 64-mph winds made rescue efforts extremely difficult.

Ironically, the trapped Scouts slept comfortably through the entire ordeal! The group had carved caves deep into the snow, bunkering in for the night. When the avalanche occurred around 4 a.m., the sleepers inside had no idea they were buried under six to eight feet of snow. The snow caves insulated the group from sound, wind, and knowledge that they were in trouble.

"You're pretty cozy inside of them," said Randy Maurer, the father of one of the Scouts. "You're completely oblivious to what's going on outside."

Thankfully, two of the Scout leaders were sleeping in a nearby trailer. They heard the storm, the avalanche, and called for emergency help.

"That probably made quite a bit of noise, I'm imagining," a county sheriff's spokesman said of the avalanche. "But if they would have all been in the caves, I shudder to think how long it would be before we would have heard about this."

Instead, rescuers quickly found the Scouts' location by jabbing probes into the snow, waking them to the news that they'd been rescued from a danger they knew nothing about. (Source: "Scouts rescued after avalanche hits caves." Associated Press, March 7, 2004)

One of the most famous stories in the Bible involves a young couple that needed a rescue. Likewise, they had no idea that a rescue was called for! While they enjoyed the afterglow of their wedding ceremony, Jesus was organizing a rescue party for their reception. This is also true of us. Two thousand years ago, Jesus died on the cross and rose again to rescue us before we even realized we needed to be rescued. Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” All of us in our lives had a time before we heard about what Jesus did for us on the cross. And up until that time we never knew we needed rescuing but Jesus died for us anyway. Maybe there is someone here today that now realizes they need rescuing. That means today is the day for your salvation. Maybe our last next step this morning is for you, which is to admit that I need to be rescued and believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God.

As Gene and Roxey come to lead us in a final song and the ushers prepare to take up the communication cards let’s pray: God, we thank you for this time that we can gather as a body of believers and worship you in spirit and in truth. We thank you for the ability and the opportunity to freely worship in this place. I pray that you would take us from this place safely to our homes and open our hearts to your Holy Spirit as we ponder today’s message this week. Give us divine appointments to share your gospel this week with someone who needs the abundant life and grace that only you can give. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


Come and See!

(John 1:35-51)



“In my experience, signs follow decisions. The way you overcome spiritual inertia and produce spiritual momentum is by making tough decisions. And the tougher the decision, the more potential momentum it will produce. The primary reason most of us don't see God moving is simply because we aren't moving. If you want to see God move, you need to make a move!


I learned this lesson in dramatic fashion during the first year at National Community Church. We had been praying for a drummer to join our worship team for months, but I felt like I needed to put some feet on my faith, so I went out and bought a four-hundred-dollar drum set. It was a Field of Dreams moment: if you buy it, they will come. I bought the drum set on a Thursday. Our first drummer showed up the next Sunday. And he was good. He was actually part of the United States Marine Drum and Bugle Corps.


Rock and roll.


I cannot promise that signs will follow your faith in three minutes or three hours or three days. But when you take a step of faith, signs will follow. God will sanctify your expectations, and you will begin to live your life with holy anticipation. You won't be able to wait to see what God is going to do next.”


Mark Batterson, Wild Goose Chase (Multnomah, 2008), pp. 32-33





  • ME

    • Following Jesus – steps of faith

        • Florida to Ohio (step of faith – moved without having a job)

        • Ohio to Missouri (said no twice to going to the headquarters of CEF, but agreed the third time)

        • Missouri to California (step of faith to move further away from family; leaned on our church family in CA)

        • California to Pennsylvania (resigned from EGM without having another job lined up and left CA, eventually accepted pastoral position in PA)


  • WE

    • Following Jesus – steps of faith

        • Individuals

          • Every one of us can probably look back over our lives and see the steps of faith we taken to follow Jesus

          • It may not have been moving all over the country like Judy and I did

          • Perhaps it was being obedient to the Lord’s prompting to begin teaching a Sunday school class or leading a small group

          • Maybe it was committing to attending church on a regular basis and not just on holidays

          • For some of us it was taking the step of faith to begin giving something in the offering every week and then moving to tithing 10% of our income

          • For others of us it was taking the step of faith to follow God’s leading into full-time pastoral ministry or full-time missionary work

          • An important step of faith for all of us is overcoming the fear of rejection and sharing our faith with family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers

          • We have all taken steps of faith to follow Jesus as His disciples

        • Idaville Church

          • The members of Idaville Church have taken many steps of faith

          • Purchasing the old school property on April 30, 1963 and moving the church from Idaville-York Springs Road to its current location

          • Voting in October 1991 to add on the multipurpose building

          • Currently taking the step of faith through the capital campaign to add-on to the main building (larger sanctuary and secure children’s area)

As John the evangelist continues to share the week-long events leading up to Jesus’ first miracle, we’ll see a transition take place from talking about John the Baptist to talking about Jesus. ​​ This transition happens during day three. ​​ What John the evangelist wants us to understand from this final part of chapter 1 is that . . .


BIG IDEA – Being a disciple of Jesus means we have to follow Him.


Let’s pray


  • GOD (John 1:35-51)

    • Follow Him – John says (vv. 35-42)

        • The next day – day 3 (v. 35-36)

          • John the evangelist has been walking us through the week leading up to Jesus’ first miracle

            • The transitional phrase he has been using is “the next day . . .”

            • This provides a natural break as John the evangelist shares what he saw and experienced with Jesus

          • John the Baptist was still on the other side of the Jordan on day 3

            • He is there with two of his disciples

            • We know that one of the disciples is Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, because it is mentioned in verse 40

            • The other disciple is unknown, because his identity is not revealed by John the evangelist

              • While it would be nice to say definitively who the unnamed disciple is, we cannot

              • We can only speculate that it is either Philip, whom we’ll be introduced to in verse 43, or John the evangelist

              • Philip is mentioned together with Andrew throughout John’s Gospel, and it seems as though Jesus finds Philip on the fourth day (v. 43)

              • I personally lean toward John the evangelist, because he never mentions himself in the Gospel

              • We know from the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) that John brings his brother James to Jesus, just like Andrew brings his brother Simon to Jesus

              • But we’re getting ahead of the text

          • What is more important is that two men, who were disciples of John the Baptist, are about the transition to a new “Teacher”

          • John the Baptist sees Jesus once again

            • Jesus is still hanging out on the other side of the Jordan where John has been baptizing

            • He was passing by John the Baptist and not coming toward him as He had done the day before

            • John had already identified Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, on day 2

            • Perhaps the two disciples who were with John on day 3 had been gone and did not hear his declaration the day before, or maybe John wanted to make the declaration, to these two disciples, personal and direct

            • John again directs the attention of these two disciples to Jesus by saying, “Look, the Lamb of God!”

            • What an incredible thing for John the Baptist to do – pointing his own disciples to someone greater

              • This takes incredible humility on John’s part, especially when culture encourages us to build ourselves up

              • “Therefore he [John] provides a genuine model of what it means to be a minister or servant of God. ​​ The human tendency is to make a name for ourselves and to attach our names to other people, institutions, and things so that people will remember us. ​​ To minimize oneself (“to decrease”) in order for Jesus to become the focus of attention (“to increase”) is the designated function of an ideal witness in this Gospel (cf. John 3:30).” ​​ [Borchert, The New American Commentary, John 1-11, 141]

              • “‘To recommend disciples to a greater teacher was rare, required great humility and denoted confidence in the other teacher’s superiority’ (Keener 1993: ​​ 266). ​​ The present shift in allegiance from the Baptist to Jesus also illustrates John’s humility and submission to the divine will: ​​ ‘It is the mark of a truly great man that he can gently, but firmly, detach them [his followers], so that they may go after a greater’” [Köstenberger, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, John, 73]

              • That needs to be our focus when sharing our testimony with others

          • We see that the two disciples take John’s declaration seriously

        • Transition of disciples (vv. 37-39)

          • Andrew and the other disciple heard what John the Baptist said about Jesus and began to follow Him

            • PRINCIPLE #1 – God’s desire is that everyone follow Jesus.

              • Perhaps you’ve never started following Jesus

                • It’s not too late to begin following Him

                • 2 Peter 3:8-10, But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: ​​ With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. ​​ The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. ​​ He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

                  • God’s Word tells us that if we die in rebellion against Him, we will be separated from Him for all of eternity (Rom. 6:23)

                  • We’re all born sinners (Rom. 3:23)

                  • God’s desire is that no one perishes, so out of His great love He made a way for us to be in a right relationship with Him – He made a way to redeem us from our sin of rebellion (Rom. 5:8)

                  • Jesus came as the Lamb of God, died on a cross, was buried, and came alive again on the third day to take our punishment for sin (1 Cor. 15:3-4)

                  • We now have a way to not be separated from God for eternity

                  • It requires us to turn from our sin and follow Jesus

                  • John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

                • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Repent of my sin and begin to follow Jesus so I will not perish, but have eternal life.

              • Maybe you’ve followed Jesus in the past, but you’ve gotten away from that close relationship with Him

                • That close relationship can be restored

                  • Lamentations 3:40, Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord.

                  • Hosea 12:6, But you must return to God; maintain love and justice, and wait for your God always.

                  • Zechariah 1:3, Therefore tell the people: ​​ This is what the Lord Almighty says: ​​ ‘Return to me,’ declares the Lord Almighty, ‘and I will return to you,’ says the Lord Almighty.

                  • 1 John 1:9, If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

                • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Begin to follow Jesus again by examining my ways, returning to the Lord, and confessing my sins.

              • Being a disciple of Jesus means we have to follow Him.

            • Remember, Jesus was not coming towards John the Baptist like He had done the day before

            • Jesus was passing by – He was just walking along, but I’m certain it wasn’t by chance

            • Andrew and the other disciple begin to follow Jesus

            • “Disciples in that day literally ‘followed’ or walked behind the one they had chosen as their teacher.” ​​ [Köstenberger, 73]

            • The transition had taken place – they were now Jesus’ disciples

          • Jesus question of the two disciples

            • When Jesus realizes He’s being followed, He turns around and asks the two disciples a question

            • “What do you want?”

              • These are the first words of Jesus in John’s Gospel

              • He wants these two to articulate what their desire is in following Him – what’s their purpose

                • We know from reading the other Gospels and reading further in John’s Gospel that not everyone’s purpose in following Jesus was genuine

                • Some people followed Him, because of what He could do for them (feed them, heal them, etc.)

                • We also know that when Jesus began to share hard sayings (cf. John 6:53-65) that many of His disciples turned back and no longer followed him (John 6:66)

              • “But the Evangelist wants his readers to reflect on a deeper question: ​​ the Logos-Messiah confronts those who make any show of beginning to follow him and demands that they articulate what they really want in life.” ​​ [Carson, The Pillar New Testament Commentary, The Gospel According to John, 155]

                • That deeper question is for us today as readers of John’s Gospel

                • What do we really want from following Jesus?

                • Make it personal for yourself today, what do I really want from following Jesus?

                  • You have to be completely honest with yourself and with the Lord

                  • He already knows your heart, so don’t try to trick Him with Sunday school answers

                  • If your purpose in following Jesus is because of what He can “do” for you, then tell Him that

                  • But don’t stop there, recognize that your relationship with Jesus isn’t really genuine – it isn’t about having the punishment for your sins taken away, salvation, eternal life, or being in a right relationship with God

                  • Begin today to follow Jesus with the purpose of having your punishment for sin taken away and receiving eternal life

            • These two disciples were genuinely following Jesus, and we see that through their response to His question

          • The disciples’ response

            • First, they address Him as Rabbi, which John defines for his Greek readers – Rabbi means Teacher

            • Then, they ask Jesus a question

              • They aren’t asking a question to avoid answering Jesus’ question

              • They are asking a question to show that they are truly interested in being His followers

              • “Where are you staying?”

              • This would be important information for them, because they would be returning every day to sit under His teaching as His disciples

            • Jesus invites them to continue to follow Him and find out where He’s staying

          • Come and see

            • They did just that

            • They went with Jesus and saw where He was staying

            • In fact, they also spent the rest of that day with Him

            • “To ‘follow’ is to embark with Jesus on a journey, while to ‘stay’ or ‘remain’ is to maintain a lasting personal relationship with him. ​​ That the disciples ‘stayed’ with Jesus (presumably in Bethany) for the rest of the day testifies to their commitment as disciples.” ​​ [Michaels, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, The Gospel of John, 120]

            • John the evangelist gives us a time stamp

              • It was about the tenth hour

              • The Jews started the day at sunrise (6 am) unlike Roman law that started the day at midnight (12 am)

              • So, the tenth hour would be 4 pm

          • John the evangelist begins a section where he shares about two disciples telling family and friends about Jesus

        • First things, first (vv. 40-42)

          • Andrew is identified

            • It’s from verse 40 that we can look back to verse 37 and realize that Andrew was one of the two disciples that followed Jesus after John the Baptist pointed Him out

            • He is also identified as Simon Peter’s brother

              • Interestingly enough, John the evangelist uses Simon’s new name here before he tells us that Jesus changed his name

              • John the evangelist is obviously writing after these events took place

              • He’s using Simon’s new name, Simon Peter, because he would have been pretty well known by his readers, perhaps more so than Andrew

            • After Andrew spends the rest of the day with Jesus, he is compelled to tell someone about Jesus

          • Andrew tells his brother

            • I like the fact that the first thing Andrew does is find his brother and tell him

              • Perhaps he was returning to their house for the night and sought out Simon

              • We don’t know exactly where he went to find Simon

              • PRINCIPLE #2 – God wants His people to tell others about Jesus.

                • “[Andrew] became the first in a long line of successors who have discovered that the most common and effective Christian testimony is the private witness of friend to friend, brother to brother.” ​​ [Carson, 155]

                • That should be our Christian practice as well

                • We should be sharing with our family members about Jesus and how He has transformed our lives

                • I know that many of us have done just that, even to the point of being told not to mention it again

                • There are probably others of us who have not shared the Gospel with our family members

                • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Share my salvation testimony with a family member or friend this week.

              • That is what Andrew did with his brother

            • The Messiah

              • Andrew tells Simon that they, he and the unnamed disciple, have found the Messiah

              • Again, John the evangelist explains for his Greek readers that Messiah meant – “the Christ”)

              • This is the anointed One, the promised One who would save them, redeem them, and set them free!

              • Andrew didn’t stop with just telling Simon about Jesus, he brings him to Jesus

            • Andrew brings Simon to Jesus

              • This isn’t the last time Andrew brings someone to Jesus

                • In fact, every time that Andrew is mentioned in John’s Gospel, he is bringing someone to Jesus

                • John 6:8, Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”

                • John 12:20-22, Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the Feast. ​​ They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. ​​ “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.” ​​ Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus.

              • Andrew is again our model for what we should be doing with friends and family

                • It is always important to share our personal testimony of what Jesus has done for us

                • It is also important to bring our friends and family to a place where they can learn more about Jesus and grow in their faith

                • There are many places where they can go to hear God’s Word (church, Sunday school, small group, one-on-one discipleship, etc.)

                • I want to challenge us today to begin inviting family and friends to church on a regular basis

                • Perhaps they’ve already heard the Gospel, but haven’t believe in Jesus yet – they need to continue to hear the Good News

                • Maybe they have believed in Jesus and need to grow in their relationship with Him – church is a great place for that to happen

                • Both groups need the fellowship of other believers in their lives

            • Simon comes face-to-face with Jesus and immediately Jesus changes his name

          • Jesus changes Simon’s name

            • Jesus looked at Simon and identified him as the son of John

              • This was a common practice, because last names were not used in the 1st Century

              • A person could be identified by their father’s name or by their place of origin (e.g., Jesus of Nazareth or Simon of Cyrene)

            • Cephas or Peter

              • Cephas was an Aramaic word meaning “rock”

              • Peter was a Greek word meaning “rock”

              • Jesus wasn’t necessarily changing Simon’s name, but rather giving him a nickname

              • This nickname was really identifying a characteristic that Jesus saw in Simon Peter that had not yet been manifested (in fact it really wouldn’t be evident until after the day of Pentecost when Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit)

              • Jason tells the story of an RA at Messiah College that gave everyone on his floor a nickname at the beginning of the year – he was not as discerning as Jesus was with Simon

              • While at Huntington College there was a foreign exchange student whose name was, Jingwei

              • The other guys on the wing of his floor thought it sounded like John Wayne, so they nicknamed him “Duke”

        • Andrew and the unnamed disciple have followed Jesus, Andrew has introduced his brother to Jesus, and Jesus has changed Simon’s name to Peter

        • This ends day 3

    • Follow Me – Jesus says (vv. 43-50)

        • The next day – day 4 (v. 43a)

          • This again is the phrase that John the evangelist uses to transition from one scene to the next

          • On the fourth day, Jesus decides to leave Bethany on the other side of the Jordan and head to Galilee [show map]

        • Philip’s calling (vv. 43b-44)

          • We don’t know exactly where Jesus is on his journey to Galilee when he finds Philip

            • Most scholars believe it would have been a two day walk for Jesus to get to Galilee

            • Is He just beginning his journey and is still in Bethany?

            • Is He part of the way to Galilee?

            • It seems to me that he is just starting out from Bethany and finds Philip, perhaps as part of the crowd

          • Follow me

            • While it’s not stated directly, we know that Philip does follow Jesus, because of what he does in verse 44

            • This takes us back to our first principle

            • PRINCIPLE #1 – God’s desire is that everyone follow Jesus.

            • Being a disciple of Jesus means we have to follow Him.

            • That’s what Philip did

          • John the evangelist gives us a little geographical note at this point

            • Philip, Andrew, and Peter are all from the same town of Bethsaida in Galilee [show map]

            • The trip to Galilee would be a homecoming for these three disciples

          • Jesus is gaining disciples by the day as Philip began to follow Him

        • Nathanael’s calling (vv. 45-50)

          • Philip does the same thing that Andrew did

            • He found someone to tell about Jesus

            • It was his friend Nathanael

            • This brings us back to our second principle

            • PRINCIPLE #2 – God wants His people to tell others about Jesus.

            • For Philip, it wasn’t a family member, but rather a friend

            • We learn from Philip’s example that we should be sharing our personal salvation testimony with friends also

          • Philip’s testimony

            • Philip shares that we (Andrew, Peter, unnamed disciple, and he) have found the One that . . .

              • Moses wrote about in the Law

              • The prophets also wrote about

              • “. . . it anchors the notion of ‘the Messiah’ in the entire Hebrew Bible, both the law and the prophets. ​​ This suggests that the whole Bible testifies to a single ‘Coming One,’ as John thought (vv. 15, 26-27), in contrast to the delegation from Jerusalem, with their pedantic alternatives of ‘the Christ,’ ‘Elias,’ and ‘the Prophet’ (v. 25).” ​​ [Michaels, 127-28]

            • Philip then uses the two identifying factors of any man in the 1st Century – “the name of his village, and the name of his (reputed) father” [Carson, 159]

              • While Jesus wasn’t born in Nazareth, he definitely grew up there and called it His hometown

              • As Jesus was growing up, those in Nazareth probably didn’t know about His miraculous birth story, they only knew that He was the son of Joseph and Mary

            • While Philip is excited about sharing Jesus with Nathanael, Nathanael’s reaction could have burst his bubble

          • Nathanael’s reaction

            • “Nazareth! ​​ Can anything good come from there?”

            • Ohio State and the University of Michigan are huge rivals

              • It’s always amazing to see and hear the various verbal slams about the two schools

              • Since Ohio State has been more successful than Michigan, there are more memes that run down Michigan than Ohio State

              • [Show the two memes]

              • Ohio State fans would echo Nathanael’s reaction, “Michigan! ​​ Can anything good come from there?”

              • I’m not a football fanatic, so I’m simply sharing what I’ve heard and seen

            • We may experience this when we invite people to church or share the Gospel with them

              • They may respond the same way Nathanael did

              • “Church! ​​ Can anything good come from there?”

              • Many times they react that way because of something that happened in the past

            • Philip doesn’t let Nathanael’s skepticism get him down, instead he challenges him

          • Philip’s challenge

            • “Come and see”

            • I worked for a direct mail marketing company when we lived in Florida and a lot of the employees had attended the Catholic Church in the past

              • Most of them didn’t attend at the time and one of them told me that they didn’t attend because it was the same thing every Sunday – it was rote

              • I had the opportunity to share about Jesus with them and about the church where Judy and I attended

              • I was basically saying, Come and see!

              • I never had any of them come to church with us, but I had, at least, planted the seed

            • We need to remain positive in the midst of other’s negativity, because we have the most life-changing message for them

            • That’s what Philip did, he didn’t let Nathanael’s skepticism deter him

          • Jesus’ response to Nathanael

            • We know that Nathanael took Philip up on his challenge, to come and see, because when Jesus saw him coming, he had an encouraging word to say about him

              • He called Nathanael a true Israelite

              • He was saying that there was nothing false in him

              • He spoke his mind concerning how he felt about Nazareth

              • Story of Jacob

                • Jacob used falsehood to steal his brothers blessing and his birthright

                • Jacob used falsehood to trick his father

                • Jacob also use falsehood in dealing with his father-in-law Laban

                • After Jacob wrestled with God, God changed his name to Israel (struggles with God)

                • Jacob had overcome, his character had changed

              • Nathanael didn’t put on a mask or try to hide his true feelings

              • Nathanael wants to know how Jesus, whom he had never met, could say that he was a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false

            • PRINCIPLE #3 – Jesus is all-knowing (omniscient).

              • Jesus told Nathanael that He had seen him while he was still under the fig tree before Philip called him

              • This was supernatural knowledge that God had given to Jesus to help Nathanael overcome his skepticism

              • It worked!

            • What we see next is Nathanael’s testimony

          • Nathanael’s testimony

            • Nathanael uses three titles for Jesus

              • Rabbi meaning Teacher, which showed that he believed in Jesus as the Messiah

              • Son of God, which revealed that Nathanael understood that Jesus was deity

              • King of Israel, which displayed his allegiance to Jesus

            • Jesus explains that Nathanael believed because He had shared some supernatural knowledge with him

          • Jesus’ promise

            • Jesus then promises Nathanael that he will see greater things than that

            • This is probably a reference to the upcoming miracle at Cana in Galilee, but I don’t want to steal Pastor Marc’s thunder for next week

        • Jesus now turns His attention away from Nathanael, personally and addresses the disciples as a group

    • Divine revelation (v. 51)

        • We know that Jesus is addressing the group of disciples, because of the use of the plural “you” in verse 51

        • This divine revelation is a reminder of the story of Jacob when he laid his head on a stone as he traveled from Beersheba to Haran

          • He had a dream that a stairway was resting on the earth and reached to heaven

          • Angels were ascending and descending on this stairway

          • Jacob called the place Bethel (house of God)

        • Jesus was letting His disciples know that He was the way to heaven

        • The Son of Man was Jesus favorite way of referring to Himself while on earth


  • YOU

    • Being a disciple of Jesus means we have to follow Him.

        • Perhaps you’ve never followed Him before, but today can be that day

        • Perhaps you’ve fallen away from following Him and today you can begin again

  • WE

    • We all have a responsibility to follow Jesus wholeheartedly

    • We also have a responsibility to tell others about Jesus



“Christ says, ‘Give me all. I don't want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want you. I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. No half-measures are any good. I don't want to cut off a branch here and a branch there. I want to have the whole tree down. I don't want to drill the tooth, or crown it, or stop it, but to have it out. Hand over the whole natural self, all the desires which you think are innocent as well as the ones you think are wicked—the whole outfit. I will give you a new self instead. In fact, I will give you myself: my own will shall become yours.’”


—C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity


C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (HarperOne, 2001), p. 196-197; submitted by Bill White, Paramount, California







(John 1:29-34)



“If you go over to Scotland, or anywhere there are lots of sheep, sooner or later you're going to see a very unusual sight. You'll see a little lamb running around the field, and you'll notice this lamb has what looks like an extra fleece tied around its back. In fact, you'll see there are little holes in the fleece for its four legs and usually a hole for its head. If you see a little lamb running around like that, that usually means its mother has died.


And without the protection and nourishment of a mother, any orphaned lamb will die. If you take the orphaned lamb and try to introduce it to another mother, the new mother will butt it away. She won't recognize the lamb's scent and will know the new baby is not one of her own lambs.


But thankfully, most flocks are large enough that there is a ewe that has recently lost a lamb. The shepherd will skin the dead lamb and make its fleece into a covering for the orphaned lamb, then he'll take the orphaned lamb to the mother whose baby just died. Now, when she sniffs the orphaned lamb, she will smell the fleece of her own lamb. Instead of butting the lamb away, she will accept it as one of her own.


In a similar way, we have become acceptable to God by being clothed with Christ.”


From Peter Grant's sermon, "In What Way Is Jesus Christ Different?"; submitted by Van Morris, Mount Washington, Kentucky





  • ME

    • Debt forgiveness

        • We’ve had some recent changes to several financial things in our lives

        • Judy started teaching this past Fall, which affected Levi’s CHIP health insurance level that we qualified for (there was a significant increase in our monthly responsibility for his health insurance)

        • While we were looking at how we were going to cover this increase, we had some debt forgiven that nearly covered the monthly cost of the increase in the health insurance coverage

        • Who says that God doesn’t care about every detail of our lives

        • We saw this as God’s way of “saving” us financially


  • WE

    • Debt forgiveness

        • Perhaps every one of us has experienced some kind of debt forgiveness in our lives

        • It doesn’t have to be a financial debt – it could also be an emotional debt

        • We all probably carry around guilt for something that we did or didn’t do

          • Most of us probably experience this guilt with God

            • We don’t have to carry around that guilt debt

            • 1 John 1:9, If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

          • We may also experience guilt with another person

            • The same holds true with other people – we don’t have to carry around the guilt we are experiencing

            • We can and should go to that person, confess and seek their forgiveness

            • Too often we continue to carry the debt of guilt around, which affects our relationship with that person

        • We can be saved from the debt of guilt


The Israelites had been waiting for the Messiah to come, so they could be set free from Roman rule. ​​ They were looking for someone to save them. ​​ Unfortunately, they were looking for a political leader instead of a spiritual leader. ​​ As John the Baptist continues his testimony (the positive side of it) we see that he directs the people’s attention to someone he has been talking about in veiled terms. ​​ As Jesus enters the scene, John the Baptist wants us to know that . . .

BIG IDEA – Salvation is here.


This is not a financial or emotional salvation, but a spiritual salvation.


Let’s pray


  • GOD (John 1:29-34)

    • Salvation revealed to Israel (vv. 29-31)

        • The next day

          • John the evangelist is probably referring to the day after John the Baptist had responded to the delegation from Jerusalem (priests and Levites)

            • We are not told if this delegation is still present the next day

            • Some believe they had begun their return trip to Jerusalem

            • Nothing is mentioned in this passage about whether or not they were there

          • What we do know is that John the Baptist saw Jesus coming towards him and takes the opportunity to testify about who Jesus is and what His purpose on earth was

            • John isn’t commanding people to look at Jesus, but rather making an exclamation to draw their attention to Jesus

            • He wants them to see who Jesus is, because he is going to explain Jesus’ purpose on earth

        • Jesus’ purpose on earth

          • Lamb of God

            • This imagery would have been very familiar to the Jews who were following John the Baptist

              • The sacrificial system had been in place for hundreds of years

              • We are all familiar with the final plague in Egypt that allowed the Israelites to be set free from slavery

                • Death of the firstborn, both human and animal

                • The Israelites avoided that plague by sacrificing a perfect lamb and smearing the blood on the doorposts of their houses

                • The Israelites remembered their release from slavery every year by celebrating Passover, which included the sacrifice of a perfect lamb

              • What is perhaps less familiar to us is that two lambs were sacrificed every day at the temple (one in the morning and one in the evening)

                • This was done as a way to cleanse the Israelites

                • Hebrews 9:22, In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness

                • We saw God shedding blood after the fall of Adam and Eve, when He made coverings for their nakedness out of animal skins

              • “The first biblical mention of the Lamb appears in Genesis 22 when Abraham went to the altar to sacrifice his son Isaac. ​​ Leviticus 14 talks about lambs as a guilt offering. ​​ John came back to it in Revelation as a triumphal title for the conquering Lord.” ​​ [Gangel, Holman New Testament Commentary, John, 16]

            • The sacrificial system was designed as a way to cover over the sins of the Israelites, but it was not designed to take away their sins

          • Take away the sin of the world

            • John the Baptist is announcing and proclaiming that Jesus’ purpose in coming to earth was to be the perfect sacrifice that takes away the sin of the world

            • His sacrifice would not merely cover over their sins, but take them away

            • “But this Lamb is a special kind of lamb – one that ‘takes away [airōn] the sin of the world.” ​​ The theme of taking away sin is directly related to the Hebrew kpr, which involves ‘wiping away’ or getting rid of sin. ​​ Such ‘getting rid’ is not merely done by ‘covering’ it over and acting as though it were gone. ​​ The getting rid of sin in the Bible is done by the smearing of blood, the symbol of God’s ‘pardoning’ of humanity through death and the consequent ‘reconciliation of humanity with God.’” ​​ [Borchert, The New American Commentary, John 1-11, 135-36]

            • Hebrews 7:27-28, Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. ​​ For the law appoints as high priests men who are weak; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever.

          • PRINCIPLE – God provided Jesus as the final, perfect sacrifice for sin.

            • “In Genesis, as Abel brought a lamb for sacrifice we see a lamb offered for an individual. ​​ In Exodus, as each household sacrificed a lamb during Passover, we see a lamb offered for a family. ​​ In Leviticus, when the people of Israel were instructed to sacrifice a lamb, we see a lamb offered for a nation. ​​ In John, as the Baptist identifies Jesus as the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world, we see a Lamb who would be offered for the world.” ​​ [Courson, Jon Courson’s Application Commentary, New Testament, 440]

            • We are all born with a desire to go our own way as Isaiah tells us, We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way . . . ​​ (Isaiah 53:6a)

            • Just as God punished Adam and Eve when they sinned, by rebelling against Him, He has to punish us for our sin of rebellion against Him (Rom. 6:23)

            • God provided a substitute for us, someone to take our place when His punishment is poured out

            • Isaiah 53:4-7, Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. ​​ But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed . . . and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. ​​ He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.

            • This whole passage is talking about Jesus and the reason why He came to earth

            • He is the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world

            • “Testing the acoustics in the vast Agricultural Hall, Spurgeon shouted, ‘Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.’ A worker high in the rafters of the building heard this and became converted to Christ as a result.”

              "Charles Haddon Spurgeon," Christian History, no. 29.


            • John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

            • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Recognize that Jesus took my punishment for sin when He died on the cross and believe in Him so I can have eternal life.

          • After John the Baptist proclaims who Jesus is, he explains that Jesus is eternal

        • Jesus’ preexistence

          • John is now explaining who he was talking about when he said in verse 15, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’

          • He is revealing to the people, who the person is that was already among them that they did not know (John 1:26)

          • The people can now see Jesus, face-to-face

          • Salvation is here!

          • Through this description, John is letting them know that Jesus is eternal, He is deity

            • As we learned at the beginning of this book, Jesus is God – God and Jesus are one

            • Although Jesus’ ministry was starting after John’s, Jesus’ ministry would far exceed John’s

            • John was pointing people to Jesus

            • “If some of Jesus’ first disciples had earlier followed John the Baptist, we must suppose that something encouraged them to abandon their old master at the peak of his influence, in order to follow a still unknown preacher from Galilee. ​​ The best reason is the obvious one: ​​ they changed their allegiance precisely because it was the Baptist himself who pointed Jesus out as the one who was coming to fulfil the promise of Scripture.” ​​ [Carson, The Pillar New Testament Commentary, The Gospel According to John, 148]

          • John then answers the question about why he came baptizing

        • John’s reason for baptizing

          • When John says that he did not know him (Jesus), it doesn’t mean that he had never met Jesus

            • John and Jesus were relatives, so he obviously knew who Jesus was (son of Mary and Joseph, brother of James, etc.)

            • It was that he did not know him as the Coming One, the Messiah

            • This was revealed to him through a revelation of God that we will see in vv. 32-33

          • John then gives the reason why he was baptizing

            • We know from v. 23 that John explained who he was by stating that he was making straight the way for the Lord

            • He was preparing people to meet the Messiah

            • His baptizing was a way to prepare people to receive the Messiah

            • His entire role as the Baptist was to reveal Jesus to Israel

        • PRINCIPLE – God’s desire is for Jesus to be revealed to all humanity.

          • The Great Commission is Jesus’ final words to His disciples before He ascends to heaven

          • Read Matthew 28:16-20

          • The Great Commission is given to us as followers of Jesus Christ – these are our marching orders until Jesus returns

          • Just as John’s ministry of baptism was designed to reveal Jesus to the Israelites, our various ministries within the church and outside the church, should be designed to reveal Jesus to all of humanity

          • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Make sure that the ministry I’m involved with at church, or outside the church, helps to reveal Jesus to those I’m ministering to.

        • John was able to reveal Jesus to Israel, because He had already been revealed to him

    • Jesus revealed to John (vv. 32-34)

        • John’s baptism of Jesus

          • John’s Gospel does not have Jesus’ baptism recorded, except for this reference to it

          • It is recorded in the other three Gospels

            • Matthew 3:13-17

            • Mark 1:9-11

            • Luke 3:21-22

          • John saw the Spirit of God descend from heaven in the form of a dove and remain on Jesus

            • The important word in this sentence is “remain”

            • “The appearance of the Spirit was common in the Old Testament, but it appeared mainly among designated leaders (such as a king, judge, or prophet) and remained only for the duration of their God-appointed work. ​​ John the Baptist’s comment is telling: ​​ The Spirit descended and remained on him. ​​ This is a permanent anointing; this is an anointing unlike anything witnessed before in Judaism; this is the messianic anointing.” ​​ [Burge, The NIV Application Commentary, John, 74]

            • So, the Spirit never left Jesus – they are together now in heaven

          • This anointing of Jesus was a fulfillment of a revelation given to John the Baptist

        • God’s revelation of Jesus

          • As John began his ministry of baptism, I’m certain he was probably watching and waiting for the fulfillment of the revelation God had given him

          • God had told him that the sign of the Messiah would be the Spirit coming down and remaining on a specific person

            • As John met certain individuals who appeared very godly, perhaps he wondered if the Spirit would descend and remain on them after he baptized them

            • When they came up out of the water, he probably said to himself, “Well, that’s not the Messiah.”

            • Then, finally one day, Jesus comes and John knows, even before he baptizes Jesus, that something is different about Him

            • He tries to deter Jesus, but Jesus reassures him that this baptism must be done to fulfill all righteousness (Matt. 3:15)

          • Finally, we see John’s testimony about who Jesus is

        • John’s testimony about Jesus

          • “I have seen” and “I testify” are in the perfect tense

          • It is a settled conviction for John

          • He believes it will all his heart and mind

          • Jesus is the Son of God

            • Most commentators mention that there is strong evidence through ancient manuscripts that John probably wrote “Chosen One of God” instead of “Son of God”

            • This would parallel Isaiah’s words

            • Isaiah 42:1, “Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him and he will bring justice to the nations.”

            • Both of these names for Jesus are valid

          • We don’t have to guess what John the Baptist thinks about Jesus and who He is, he tells us directly – he testifies!

    • This ends the second day of John the Baptist’s ministry as explained by John the evangelist (next week we’ll see the third day)


  • YOU

    • Salvation is here and it is for everyone

        • You can have eternal life when you believe in Jesus

        • He is the Chosen One of God, the perfect Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world


  • WE

    • The Gospel of Jesus Christ is a message of hope that is for the whole world

        • John was revealing Jesus to everyone he came in contact with, through his ministry of baptism

        • Each one of us is called and commissioned to the do same thing with everyone we come in contact with



“Why can't God just forgive the debt of sin? If our Creator was truly generous, couldn't he just move on without repayment? Live and let live? Here's the problem: someone always eats the cost of sin. As a simple example, let's say your neighbor crashes his car through your fence. When you discover the shambles, you forgive him: ‘Don't worry about the fence! All is forgiven.’ But forgiving your neighbor doesn't do away with the bill or dissolve the damage; it means you eat the cost.


Now consider a more complex example. During the U.S. housing crisis, shoddy banking practices, fat-cat executives, and corporate corruption threw a sledgehammer into the global economy. Now, imagine Jesus is installed in the aftermath as the new CEO of one of the massive corporations guilty for the crisis. The old CEO is out the door; a new boss is in town. Jesus is personally innocent: he wasn't behind the wheel when the ship got steered into the rocks. But there's still a huge debt. Bank of America alone owed people $17 billion.


Someone has to pay the costs. Here's what actually happened: in the aftermath of the housing crisis, the banks were deemed "too big to fail," and the government forgave the debt, covering the most expensive bailout of human history. Though the banking industry had caused massive damage, the debt was forgiven. But the debt didn't go away. Someone else covered it—in this case, the American people. Someone always eats the cost.


At the Cross, God was eating the cost of our sin. Why can't God just forgive the debt? This is what is happening at the Cross: God is just(ly) forgiving the debt—by personally covering the cost. I misspoke earlier when I said the White House gave Wall Street the most expensive bailout of human history. Actually, the most expensive bailout was when the Father established his incarnate Son as the new CEO of a corrupt corporation called Humanity Inc. and together, in the power of their Spirit, they took upon themselves the most outrageous debt-forgiveness plan the world has ever known.”

Joshua Ryan Butler, The Pursuing God (Thomas Nelson, 2016), page 100.






The Humble Messenger

(John 1:19-28)



Psychologist Milton Rokeach wrote a book called The Three Christs of Ypsilanti. He described his attempts to treat three patients at a psychiatric hospital in Ypsilanti, Michigan, who suffered from delusions of grandeur. Each believed he was unique among humankind; he had been called to save the world; he was the messiah. They displayed full-blown cases of grandiosity, in its pure form.


Rokeach found it difficult to break through, to help the patients accept the truth about their identity. So he decided to put the three into a little community to see if rubbing against people who also claimed to be the messiah might dent their delusion—a kind of messianic, 12-step recovery group.


This led to some interesting conversations. One would claim, "I'm the messiah, the Son of God. I was sent here to save the earth."


"How do you know?" Rokeach would ask.


"God told me."


One of the other patients would counter, "I never told you any such thing."


Every once in a while, one got a glimmer of reality—never deep or for long, so deeply ingrained was the messiah complex. But what progress Rokeach made was pretty much made by putting them together.


John Ortberg, "Leader's Insight: Curing Grandiosity (Part Two)," LeadershipJournal.net (1-29-07)



Most of us don’t struggle with a God/Messiah complex, but we can sometimes think too highly of ourselves.



  • ME

    • Working for others

        • We see in Colossians 3:18-25, rules for Christian households

        • Colossians 3:22-24, Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. ​​ Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. ​​ It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

        • When I work for others, I try to do my very best

          • I worked for two ministries prior to becoming a pastor

          • While working with those ministries, I always tried to do my best to make my boss look good

          • I never felt like I needed praise or acknowledgement for working hard, because I found joy in making my boss look good

          • I also knew that I wasn’t really serving my boss, but the Lord

          • That perspective changes everything in the work environment

        • It was never about me, but rather about the Lord and my boss


  • WE

    • Recognizing who we are serving

        • There are times in our work environment when we really enjoy working for our boss

        • There are other times when we wish our boss was someone else

        • During the difficult times, we have to remember that we are really working for the Lord and not for men

        • We have to come to the realization that it’s not about us, but about the Lord


John the evangelist continues to share about John the Baptist. ​​ In John 1:19-34 we see the testimony of John the Baptist. ​​ He first expresses his testimony in a negative way (vv. 19-28) and then shares it in a positive way (vv. 29-34). ​​ We will be looking at the negative way today. ​​ Now this negative testimony is not bad, but rather it’s John the Baptist denying the assumptions of the religious leaders from Jerusalem. ​​ John the Baptist was letting them know that his testimony was not about him, but someone else. ​​ He wants us to understand that . . .


BIG IDEA – Our testimony is not about me, but about He (Jesus).


Let’s pray


  • GOD (John 1:19-28)

    • Three Assumptions (vv. 19-21)

        • The questioners

          • John the Baptist had obviously gotten the attention of the religious leaders, which is why they sent a delegation to question him

            • They were the religious leaders for the people of Israel, but now a large number of their people were following John and being baptized by him

            • They needed to know why

            • “The very fact that emissaries from the Jerusalem authorities show up on John’s doorstep serves as a show of power and as a signal that the authorities will not tolerate in the long run a ministry that runs counter to their own purposes.” ​​ [Köstenberger, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, John, 59]

          • The Jews of Jerusalem sent a group to question John the Baptist

            • This was probably the Sanhedrin

            • Jon Courson likens them to our Supreme Court [Jon Courson’s Application Commentary, New Testament, 439]

            • They were the highest religious ruling group in Judaism

          • Priests and Levites

            • The priests were responsible for serving in the Temple

            • The Levites were responsible for assisting the priests in their service

            • Both groups handled the ritual purification that took place in the Temple, so they would be the best candidates to question John about his practice of baptizing individuals

        • The priests and Levites came to John to ask him who he was

          • Because John was baptizing individuals, the religious leaders had a preconceived idea of what time period was approaching – the eschaton (end times)

          • Since they thought they knew what time period was approaching, it narrowed their view of who John might be

          • So, they had three assumptions, based on their study of Scripture and understanding of end times

            • 1st assumption – the Christ

              • Now, John the evangelist doesn’t record the actual question that the priests and Levites ask

              • But, from John the Baptist’s answer we know the question was whether or not he was the Christ

                • The Greek word for Christ means “anointed One”

                • The Hebrew word for Messiah means “anointed One”

                • So, we see that the religious leaders are asking John the Baptist if he is the promised Messiah, their deliverer

                • In the 1st Century there was great expectation and anticipation of the Messiah’s arrival

                • Jesus’ miraculous birth, the announcement of the angel to the shepherds, the shepherds testimony, and the Wiseman’s appearance a couple of years later, helped to feed this expectation and anticipation of the coming Messiah

                • It wouldn’t have been out of place for the priests and Levites to ask this question of John

              • We see John the Baptist’s response

                • He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely

                  • Within Christianity, when we hear the word “confess” we normally think about confessing our sins, but that is not the intent of John’s confession here

                  • “‘Confessed’ does not refer to confession of sins but to maintaining one’s allegiance to Jesus Christ in the face of hostile interrogation, and this is what John is doing here implicitly.” ​​ [Michaels, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, The Gospel of John, 96]

                  • We can learn a lot from John’s example here

                  • When faced with those who deny the deity of Christ, the existence of God, the validity of Scripture, etc., we have to maintain our allegiance to Jesus and confess Him to the world

                  • PRINCIPLE – We should never fail to confess Christ.

                  • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Speak up and confess my allegiance to Christ when others question and deny Jesus as Lord.

                • He told them that he was not the Christ, the Messiah

                • He wasn’t about to claim this name for himself

              • Our testimony is not about me, but about He (Jesus)

              • After John denies being the Christ, they move on to the next end time figure

            • 2nd assumption – Elijah

              • If he was not the Christ, then perhaps he was Elijah

              • This tells us that the religious leaders knew prophecy

                • Malachi 3:1, “See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. ​​ Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the Lord Almighty.

                • Malachi 4:5-6, “See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. ​​ He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse.”

                • The religious leaders were taking the words of the prophet Malachi, literally – Elijah would return in person

                  • They held to this belief because they knew the history about Elijah from the Scriptures

                  • They had learned that Elijah never died, but was taken up to heaven in a chariot of fire (2 Kings 2:11)

                  • So, when they read Malachi’s prophecy about Elijah preparing the way for the Lord, they understood it in a literal sense

                • Jesus explained that John the Baptist fulfilled the prophecy concerning Elijah

                  • Matthew 11:12-14, From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it. ​​ For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. ​​ And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come.

                  • Matthew 17:10-13, The disciples asked him, “Why then do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?” ​​ Jesus replied, “To be sure, Elijah comes and will restore all things. ​​ But I tell, Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but have done to him everything they wished. ​​ In the same way the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands.” ​​ Then the disciples understood that he was talking to them about John the Baptist.

                • An angel prophesied to Zechariah (John’s father) about him prior to his birth

                  • The angel was telling Zechariah all that his son would accomplish

                  • Luke 1:17, “And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous – to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

                • John certainly fulfilled the prophecies from Malachi and the angel of the Lord – he was making the way ready for the Messiah

              • Perhaps John the Baptist even resembled Elijah

                • Mark 1:6, John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey.

                • 2 Kings 1:8, They replied, “He was a man with a garment of hair and with a leather belt around his waist.” ​​ The king said, “That was Elijah the Tishbite.”

                • So, John’s wardrobe resembled that of Elijah

                • It wouldn’t have been a stretch for the religious leaders to make this connection and then misunderstand and misinterpret prophecy

              • John foils their second assumption, by telling them that he is not Elijah

            • 3rd assumption – the Prophet

              • This assumption is again steeped in Jewish history and the promise of Moses found in Deuteronomy 18:15-19

              • Deuteronomy 18:15, 18-19, The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your brothers. ​​ You must listen to him . . . I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers; I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him. ​​ If anyone does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name, I myself will call him to account.

              • John’s answer to their third assumption is, “No.”

              • He was not the Prophet that Moses promised

        • Perhaps the priests and the Levites were baffled at this point, because John denied all three of their assumptions about who he was

    • Who are you? (vv. 22-23)

        • The priests and Levites know they can’t return empty handed to the Sanhedrin (Jews of Jerusalem)

          • They finally ask John to explain to them who he was

          • Have you ever struggled with remembering someone’s name when you’re trying to tell another person who you saw?

            • The other person starts throwing out names and you have to say “No” to everyone of their guesses

            • The person’s name you’re trying to think of is right on the tip of your brain, but having to respond “No” to the guesses distracts you from pulling the person’s name out of your brain

            • That can be so frustrating

            • I wonder if John the Baptist was getting exasperated with the priests and Levites

            • Perhaps he was thinking, “just let me tell you who I am!”

          • I find it fascinating, but not surprising, that John uses the words of the prophet Isaiah to answer their final question

        • John quotes the prophet Isaiah

          • Remember, the religious leader’s assumptions were all based on Old Testament prophecies about the Christ, Elijah, and the Prophet

          • John hits them with more Old Testament prophecy, which they probably already knew

            • John is not the Christ, but is rather a voice

              • The messenger is not as important as the message

              • “Though Jesus is the Word, the Baptist is ‘a voice’ directing his audience to Jesus.” ​​ [Köstenberger, 62]

              • Our testimony is not about me, but about He (Jesus)

              • PRINCIPLE – Disciples of Christ should always point people to Jesus.

                • Our personal testimony is the most powerful tool we have in sharing the Gospel, because no one can deny what happened to us

                • Now, in sharing our testimony we have to be careful that it doesn’t become about us

                • Greg Laurie in his book Tell Someone gives some great guidelines about sharing our testimony, especially concerning our past life of sin and rebellion against God

                  • Don’t glorify or exaggerate your past [pg. 85]

                  • Don’t boast about your work, boast in His [pg. 86]

                  • It’s not about you; it’s about Him! [pg. 87]

                  • “Our story is the bridge, not the destination. ​​ The point of sharing your story is so you can tell His story: ​​ His love for humanity, His death on the cross, and His resurrection from the dead.” ​​ [pg. 87]

              • We are simply the voice, the messenger, pointing people to Jesus

              • What we see next is a change in location of punctuation from the words of the prophet in the book of Isaiah to the words of John the Baptist in the Gospel of John

            • Straight paths

              • In the desert

                • Isaiah 40:3, A voice on one calling: ​​ “In the desert prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God.”

                • The Israelites were being released from captivity during Isaiah’s day

                • They would be returning to the Promised Land

                • “In the original context, the Old Testament prophet is calling for a (metaphorical) improvement in the road system of the desert to the east, a levelling of hills and valleys and a straightening of the curves, to accommodate the return of the covenant people from exile.” ​​ [Carson, Pillar New Testament Commentary, The Gospel According to John, 144]

              • In our lives

                • Here in the Gospel of John, we see that John the Baptist is the voice in the desert

                • His message, as the voice, is to make straight the way for the Lord

                • “‘Make the Lord’s path straight’ conveys the image of ‘preparing a roadway by clearing away the obstacles’ (Morris 1995: ​​ 121). ​​ The task of witnessing to Jesus today is similar: ​​ clearing away obstacles that may keep people from coming to Jesus, the most glaring being their sin and need of repentance.” ​​ [Köstenberger, 62-63]

                • “We might liken it to constructing an interstate highway or autobahn for Christ in our lives.” ​​ [Borchert, The New American Commentary, John 1-11, 131]

            • John the Baptist was calling people to repentance and pointing them to Jesus Christ

        • Even after John explains who he is, the priests and Levites are still stuck on the fact that he is not the Christ, Elijah, or the Prophet

    • Authority questioned (vv. 24-28)

        • Some Pharisees question John about why he is baptizing

          • If he’s not one of the eschatological figures they assumed him to be, then why is he baptizing people?

          • Baptism in the 1st Century was not a foreign concept

            • It was considered a form of ritual cleansing or purification

            • In the Jewish cultural it was reserved for Gentiles who converted to Judaism

            • Baptism was a way for Gentiles to be prepared for the final judgement, therefore, the Jews thinking John was the Christ, Elijah, or the Prophet

            • The Jews obviously didn’t need to be baptized, because they were God’s chosen people (a misconception)

            • So, when John begins baptizing fellow Jews, it obviously creates a red flag in the religious leader’s minds

            • They need answers!

          • We see John’s response

        • John’s response

          • He baptizes with water

            • “Water baptism for John’s disciples was a ritual act of cleansing demonstrating repentance and anticipation of the Messiah.” ​​ [Gangel, Holman New Testament Commentary, John, 14]

            • What they didn’t realize is that Jesus was already there

            • I’m getting ahead of myself, we’ll talk about that next week

          • We see the humility of John

            • What the religious leaders are really saying to John the Baptist, in this final question is, “Who do you think you are and by whose authority are you baptizing, our fellow Jews?”

            • John could have thrown down his credentials at that point, but he doesn’t

            • “If I had been John, I would have probably said something like, ‘I’ll tell you who I am: ​​ I’m the last of the Old Testament prophets. ​​ My birth was declared to my father by an angel. ​​ The Holy Spirit empowered me for this mission when I was still in the womb. ​​ The Son of God called me the greatest man ever to walk the face of the earth [Matt 11:11]. ​​ That’s who I am! ​​ Who are you?’” ​​ [Carter and Wredberg, Christ-Centered Exposition: ​​ Exalting Jesus in John, 30]

            • But John knows that his role is to become less, so that Jesus might become greater (John 3:30)

            • PRINCIPLE – Followers of Jesus should be characterized by humility.

              • John says that he is not even worthy to untie the leather straps that hold Jesus’ sandals on

                • In the 1st Century, the disciples of a Rabbi were to obediently do anything that was asked of them, except washing their feet

                • This task was reserved for the servant or slave (the lowest position in the culture)

                • John’s humility places him below a servant or slave

                • He again points to Jesus as the One who comes after him – the Messiah

              • Our testimony is not about me, but about He (Jesus).

                • Think for a moment about your testimony

                • Would you say that it is more about the glorification of your past and boasting about the things you’ve sacrificed?

                • Are there changes you need to make when sharing your testimony, so that your story is simply the bridge to telling God’s story of salvation through Jesus Christ?

                • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Review my testimony to make sure that it focuses more on Jesus and less on me.

                • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Take time this week to write out my testimony, so I’m ready to share it with my family, friends, and coworkers.

          • John the evangelist shares one more important note

        • Geographical note

          • The location of where John was baptizing disciples for Jesus was in Bethany on the other side of the Jordan

          • This distinguishes it from Bethany in Judea where Lazarus, Mary, and Martha lived (that location was near Jerusalem on the other side of the Mount of Olives

          • The actual location is lost to us, perhaps because it was not a highly populated area in Galilee


  • YOU

    • We should never fail to confess Christ

    • We should be characterized by humility when sharing our testimony


  • WE

    • People need us to confess Christ, because the world’s message seems to drown out the message of the Gospel

    • We need to get our story out of the way, so God’s story can be seen clearly



"If you work hard, good things will happen . . . to someone else."


So goes the motto of the All-Joes Team. Each year USA Today honors overlooked and often unappreciated football players by naming them to what the newspaper calls its All-Joes Team. Now in its tenth year, the All-Joes award celebrates men who sacrifice their egos for the good of their team.


For all their hard work, these grunts receive little glory. "You have to know your role," says William Henderson, fullback for Green Bay's Ahman Green. "I'm there to create a cavity for Ahman to get through and to protect the quarterback from bodily harm." Guess who gets the accolades when Green runs for 1000 yards? "People don't respect the position," says Henderson.


But teammates notice. Fullback Mack Strong blocks for Seattle's Ricky Watters, and Watters depends on him. "Mack does all the dirty work in the run game. He does everything. I mean, if the goal posts fell, I wouldn't be surprised to see him go over there and hold them up."


As a result of being named to the All-Joe team, some players have gone on to further glory. Previous All-Joes have made it to the Pro Bowl, including Washington defensive end Marco Coleman, New York Jets receiver Wayne Chrebet, and Seattle offensive tackle Walter Jones.


We as Christians need to work for someone else's glory too. Our role is to diminish so that Jesus may increase. If we make this our goal, Jesus will make sure our efforts won't go unnoticed.


Steve Gertz, Wheaton, Illinois; source: Larry Weisman, "All-Joes honor fullbacks for dirty job well done," USA Today (12-16-02)






I’ve Been There, And I’ll Always Be There For You

(John 1:14-18)



Learning different languages.




BIG IDEA – Our God wants to know and be known by us.


QUESTION – Why would God become one of us?


  • GOD (John 1:14-18)

    • Experience (v. 14)

        • God’s experience of humanity

          • John 4:6-7; 11:33, 35

          • Exodus 25:8-9; 40:34

        • Humanity’s experience of God

    • Example (vv. 15-17)

        • Of how to navigate this life He gave us

    • Explanation

        • Of God and His character

        • Who is He?

          • What matters to Him?

          • Galatians 3:13-14



God became man, so He could die for us. ​​ As deity He couldn’t die. ​​ As a human He could die for us.