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.






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






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)," (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)






We’ll Leave The Light On For You.

(John 1:6-13)



Motel 6 Radio Ads (stop after “‘Recycled Words’ 30 sec.” at 2:14)





  • ME

    • Always pray and not give up

        • During my devotions on Thursday God used Luke 18:1-8 to encourage me about praying and continuing to pray about several items

        • Luke 18:1, Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.

        • I don’t know about you, but there can be times in my life when I stop praying about certain things because it seems as though God is not answering

        • I had two prayer requests just like that and through my devotions, I have started praying for those two requests again

        • I also added some additional requests to my list of things that I need to continue to pray about

        • One of those prayer requests was for salvation for a particular individual


  • WE

    • Praying for salvation for family and friends

        • Are there individuals in your sphere of influence (family, friends, or coworkers) that you used to pray for about salvation, but you’ve stopped?

        • I want to encourage you to begin praying for them again

        • It’s important that we pray and not give up


John introduces us to his first witness concerning the Light (Jesus). ​​ This individual was not the light, but testified about the light. ​​ He did his job very well. ​​ He never gave up telling others about the Light. ​​ What John wants us to do is follow the example of this first witness. ​​ He wants us to . . .


BIG IDEA – Leave the Light on for the lost.


Let’s pray


  • GOD (John 1:6-13)

    • The Witness (vv. 6-9)

        • The witness identified (v. 6)

          • John, the evangelist, summarizes John the Baptist’s life in one sentence

          • Luke gives a more thorough description of John the Baptist’s birth and ministry in Luke 1

            • John’s conception is miraculous

            • His name means “the Lord is gracious”

            • John the Baptist was a relative of Jesus

            • We know he was to be set apart, before he was even born

          • We see that the message that John the Baptist was bringing was not something he made up on his own

            • His message came from God, because he came from God

            • “John did not design the message; he was sent on a mission by God to deliver it.” ​​ [Carter and Wredberg, Christ-Centered Exposition: ​​ Exalting Jesus in John, 16]

            • “The phrase ‘sent from God’ is reminiscent of the OT description of a prophet whose role was to function as a spokesperson for God (e.g., 2 Chron. 24:19; 25:15; Jer. 7:25; 25:4; 28:9; 35:15; 44:4; Ezek. 2:3).” ​​ [Köstenberger, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, John, 32]

              • We shouldn’t dismiss or marginalize the significance of that idea too quickly

              • Remember that from the end of the Old Testament (Malachi) to the beginning of the New Testament was a 400 year period when the Israelites did not hear from God

              • Now, as John the Baptist arrives on the scene we see a phrase that was used for God’s prophets in the OT being used once again

              • John the Baptist is God’s messenger, His witness, His spokesperson

          • Once John, the evangelist, identifies the witness, he immediately explains what his purpose and goal was

        • The purpose and goal of the witness (v. 7-8)

          • Purpose – to testify about the light

            • John the Baptist was not the light, but he was a witness to the light

            • A witness does not direct attention to themselves, but rather tells what they know and have heard about a situation or person

            • “When the sun is shining in all its beauty, who are the ones unconscious of the fact? ​​ Who need to be told it is shining? ​​ The blind! ​​ How tragic, then, when we read that God sent John to ‘bear witness of the light.’ ​​ How pathetic that there should be any need for this! ​​ How solemn the statement that men have to be told ‘the light’ is now in their midst. ​​ What a revelation of man’s fallen condition. (John, 26) ​​ [A. W. Pink cited by Carter and Wredberg, 16]

            • God had given John wisdom about Himself and the Messiah, so he could tell what he heard and knew

            • John was simply pointing others to Jesus

            • We’ll see this in John 1:35 when we get there

          • Goal – so that all men might believe

            • His purpose was to be a witness that testified about the light

            • The goal of his witness and testimony was that, through him, all men might believe

              • When it mentions men here it’s in a general sense, meaning men and women (all of humanity)

              • Here is the first use of the word “believe” in John’s Gospel

              • John the Baptist is directing his disciples, and all others who are listening to him, to believe that Jesus is the Messiah

              • What John the Baptist wants is not just head knowledge about Jesus, but an “active, relational trust in Jesus Christ.” ​​ [Köstenberger, 34]

              • We’ll see how he expresses this in the coming weeks

          • PRINCIPLE – God’s desire for His people is that they witness about Jesus.

            • Have you turned off the Light of the Gospel in your life?

              • Perhaps you’ve given up on that family member, friend, or coworker

              • Maybe you’ve never shared your testimony with anyone before, which means you’ve never turned on the Light of the Gospel – your family, friends, and coworkers may not even know you are a Christian

              • Whether you’ve turned off the Light of the Gospel in your life or never turned it on, today is the day to turn on the Light of the Gospel and leave it on for the lost

            • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Be a witness for Jesus Christ on a daily basis.

          • There is a transition that takes place between verse 8 and verse 9, from talking about the witness to talking about the light

        • The light was coming (v. 9)

          • The true light

            • “True” means, “real” or “genuine” ​​ [Carson, The Pillar New Testament Commentary: ​​ The Gospel According to John, 122]

            • I’m reminded of the movie The Truman Show starring Jim Carrey

              • He’s an insurance salesman who lives in what seems to be a perfect community

              • Everything runs like clockwork

              • He eventually realizes that his whole life is actually a reality TV show

              • The producers are controlling everything that happens in his life, including the sunrise and sunset

              • The sky is not real, but actually projections

              • The sun and moon are not real, but rather computer generated

              • He’s not experiencing true light, but manufactured light

            • What sets Christianity apart from all other religions and cults is what they believe about Jesus Christ (who He was and is, and what He came to earth to accomplish)

              • All other religions and cults will paint Jesus as a good teacher, a wise rabbi, another prophet, etc.

              • They are simply pointing to an imitation and not the real Light

              • John 8:12, When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. ​​ Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

              • While John the Baptist is pointing to Jesus, Jesus is pointing to God

            • Jesus, as the Light, is available to every person

              • Jesus is God’s perfect plan to deal with humanity’s sin (we’ll unwrap this in verses 12 and 13)

              • Everyone is invited to follow Him

              • No one is excluded from the invitation

              • As we’ll see, though, not everyone accepts the invitation

            • John explains next that Jesus’ coming was foretold

          • Was coming into the world

            • The way this verse has been translated leads us to understand that Jesus’ coming was foretold

            • We see, throughout the Old Testament, that many of the prophets foretold Jesus’ coming

        • John, the evangelist, doesn’t waste time, but skims over the 400 years of silence from the Old Testament to the New Testament and states that Jesus was in the world

    • The Light (vv. 10-13)

        • Not recognized by the world (v. 10)

          • In the world

            • What the Gospel writer is expressing here is that Jesus didn’t just pop in to the world for a quick visit

            • He became flesh and made His dwelling among humanity (John 1:14)

            • Jesus lived on the earth for 33 years, before He gave His life on the cross for all of humanity’s sin

          • Creator of the world

            • He created the world together with God

            • The world that is being referred to here are human beings and not vegetation, water, wind, animals, etc.

            • “In other words, Jesus came into this world, and all of creation acknowledged Him. ​​ The winds obeyed Him. ​​ The water supported Him. ​​ The rocks were ready to cry out to Him. ​​ But there was one segment of creation that received Him not: ​​ man.” ​​ [Courson, Jon Courson’s Application Commentary, New Testament, 437]

          • Rejection of God and Jesus

            • What we see is the sinful nature at work

            • The Greek word for “recognize” is better translated as “know”

              • In our culture we define “know” as head knowledge – facts, statistics, etc.

              • In the Greek, the word actually means “more than intellectual knowledge, but rather ‘to be in right relation’” ​​ [Rogers & Rogers, The New Linguistic and Exegetical Key to the Greek New Testament, 176]

            • We don’t want to be in a right relationship with God as our Creator, but rather we want to rebel against Him and go our own way (we willfully turn away from God)

            • Carter and Wredberg explain it well [Carter and Wredberg, 16]

              • “Jesus made our eyes, yet we refused to see his glory.”

              • “Jesus made our ears, yet we refused to listen to his words.”

              • “Jesus made our heads, yet we refused to bow before him.”

          • “Christmas is not about the living God coming to tell us everything's alright. John's gospel isn't about Jesus speaking the truth and everyone saying: ‘Of course! Why didn't we realize it before?’ It is about God shining his clear, bright torch into the darkness of our world, our lives, our hearts, our imaginations—and the darkness not comprehending it. It's about God, God as a little child, speaking words of truth, and nobody knowing what he's talking about.”

            N. T. Wright, "What Is This Word?"


          • John takes it a step further and narrows the focus to a specific people group

        • Not received by the Jews (v. 11)

          • His own

            • This is a reference to the Jewish nation

            • They were God’s chosen people, with the responsibility of showing all other nations what being in a relationship with God was supposed to look like

            • We see through the prophets that the Israelites had been at this for quite a while

              • Isaiah 65:2-3, All day long I have held out my hands to an obstinate people, who walk in ways not good, pursuing their own imaginations – a people who continually provoke me to my very face, offering sacrifices in gardens and burning incense on altars of brick.

              • Jeremiah 7:25-26, From the time your forefathers left Egypt until now, day after day, again and again I sent you my servants the prophets. ​​ But they did not listen to me or pay attention. ​​ They were stiff-necked and did more evil than their forefathers.

            • Paul was passionate about the Gospel of Jesus Christ

              • As he began his ministry, we initially find him going to the synagogues first to share the Gospel with his own people, the Jews

              • When they kicked him out of the synagogue, he would begin teaching the Gentiles

              • He desperately tried to reach the Jews with the Gospel, and yet, suffered heartache when rejected

              • Romans 9:1-4a, I speak the truth in Christ – I am not lying, my conscience confirms it in the Holy Spirit – I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. ​​ For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race, the people of Israel.

              • We should have that same conviction about our own people

            • The Jews did not receive Jesus as their Messiah

          • They didn’t receive Him

            • Easter has just passed and we know from Holy Week that Jesus was rejected by the Jews

            • The religious leaders stirred the people up to demand that Pilot release Barabbas instead of Jesus

            • We also know that the religious leaders encouraged the people to cry out, “Crucify Him! ​​ Crucify Him!”

          • While most Jews rejected Jesus as the Messiah, we know that some received Him (Nicodemus & Joseph of Arimathea), which is what John explains in verses 12-13

        • God’s initiative (vv. 12-13)

          • All

            • This takes us back to verse 9 where Jesus, as the Light, is available for every person

            • Everyone is given the same opportunity to receive and believe in the name of Jesus Christ

            • It’s a personal decision that each person has to make individually

            • When we receive Jesus and believe in His name we are saying several things

              • I am a sinner, I know I’ve done wrong things (Rom. 3:23; 6:23)

              • I believe that Jesus died on the cross for my sins, was buried, and came alive again in 3 days to take my punishment for sin (1 Cor. 15:3-4)

              • I repent of my sins, turn to Jesus as the master of my life

            • When we genuinely communicate those things to God, He promises us that we have the right to become His children

            • PRINCIPLE – God will allow anyone to be His child when they receive Jesus and believe in His name.

          • Children of God

            • Perhaps you are ready to make that decision today

              • You may be ready to receive Jesus and believe in His name

              • It’s not unusual for people to make an intellectual decision without a genuine desire to be in a right relationship with God – maybe you’re ready for the decision to move from your head to your heart

              • Today may be the day that you claim the right to become a child of God

              • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Receive Jesus and believe in His name, so I can become a child of God.

            • If we are children of God then one day we will live with Him where He’s at – Heaven!

          • Born of God

            • “We can only be saved through the direct intervention of God.” ​​ [Carter and Wredberg, 18]

            • As human beings we try gain God’s acceptance in three ways

              • Heritage or race (natural descent)

                • “Descent” in the Greek is literally “bloods”

                • It’s the idea of a bloodline or family line

                • This was something that the Jews thought would get them into heaven and a right relationship with God

                • If they descended from Abraham, then they were good, no worries

                • Sometimes we look at our heritage and see godly parents, grandparents, and great grandparents and can think that we are good with God – Christianity is my heritage

                • Some have even thought that because there were pastors in their family line that they somehow were “in” with God without making a personal decision to receive Jesus and believe in His name

              • Sincerity or human comparisons (human decision)

                • This certainly has the idea of passion between a husband and wife in coming together to procreate

                • “The phrase ‘of human decision’ renders the literal ‘will of flesh,’ whereby ‘flesh’ does not denote what is sinful (as it does so often in Paul’s writings), but merely relates to what is natural as opposed to what is supernatural.” ​​ [Köstenberger, 40]

              • Effort or human calculations (husband’s will)

                • This refers to the OT implication of male headship/leadership in the home

                • More specifically about men taking the lead in sexual intercourse, resulting in procreation

            • All three of those ways will not result in a person being in a right relationship with God

              • God is the One who took the initiative in providing salvation through His Son, Jesus

              • Through Jesus death, burial, and resurrection, He made a way for us to become His child


  • YOU

    • Leave the Light on for the lost

        • If you’ve turned the Light of the Gospel off in your life, it’s time to turn it back on

        • If you’ve never turned the Light of the Gospel on in your life, it’s time to turn it on

    • Children of God

        • You can turn on the Light of the Gospel in your life for the first time today by receiving Jesus and believing in His name

        • One of the first steps for a new Christian is to tell others what Jesus has done for them – that’s being a witness


  • WE

    • We are called to be witnesses about Jesus Christ to those in our sphere of influence who are lost

    • Jesus commanded His disciples and us to Pursue, Grow, and Multiply Disciples


“Patrick Henry once said, ‘The most cherished possession I wish I could leave you is my faith in Jesus Christ, for with Him and nothing else you can be happy, but without Him and with all else, you’ll never be happy’ (cited in Detzler, p. 39).” ​​ [Gangel, Holman New Testament Commentary, John, 13].


While we cannot leave our faith with our family, friends, and coworkers, we can certainly leave the Light of the Gospel on for them. ​​ We can share the Light of the world with them.





(John 1:1-5)



“Many years ago, a doting groom penned a love letter to his bride. Stationed at a California military base thousands of miles away from his wife, James Bracy's link to the lovely woman waiting for him to come home were their love letters.


But this letter didn't get delivered. Somehow it was lost, lodged between two walls in Fort Ord's mailroom in San Francisco. The letter was lost in the shadows, with its romantic affections of a youthful marriage, sealed with a kiss.


A half century later, James and Sallie Bracy had just finished celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary and were relaxing in the living room when ‘Once in a While,’ their song, began to play on the radio. Sallie remembered affectionately the 1950s song and how she used to get calls and letters from the man who owned her heart. They joked together knowing there would be no letter or phone call this time because James was at her side.


Meanwhile, a construction crew was dismantling the old post office at Fort Ord, and they discovered a long-forgotten letter from a young army corporal. The crew turned the letter over to Bob Spadoni, the postmaster in nearby Monterey. Spadoni began the process of delivering that letter, tracking down the Bracys through post office records and phone books.


Just a few days after hearing their song, the letter, dated January 28, 1955, was delivered to Sallie Bracy. The letter sent her heart aflutter, tears welled, and she again became a love-struck 22-year-old. ‘It meant a lot to me then,’ said Sallie. ‘It means even more now.’


Many years ago God wrote his love letter to us. It's waiting to be delivered, to be opened at just the right time. It meant a lot then, and it means even more now.”


Drew Zahn, assistant editor, Leadership Journal; source: "After 46 years lost in post office, love letter finally arrives," Jefferson City News Tribune (4-25-01)




  • ME

    • Separated over the summer

        • Judy and I met in college our freshman year

        • I lived in Alabama and she lived in Ohio, so when summer hit, we knew we were going to be apart

        • That first summer we wrote letters to each

        • I can’t remember if we started it the first summer or the second summer apart

          • In addition to writing letters we also made cassette tape recordings

          • We would talk about all kinds of things and of course express our love for each other

          • After listening to each other’s recording, we would start our message right after the ending of the previous message

          • We still have those recordings stored somewhere

          • We also have the letters we sent to each other

        • Those are precious letters and memories for us

    • Salvation

        • Judy and I have both understood and accepted God’s love letter to us

        • We know the truths of the Gospel and have opened our lives to allow Jesus to come in

        • We love to read and reread God’s Word – we also love to study His Word


  • WE

    • Love Letters

        • Perhaps you have love letters stored away some where

        • Maybe it’s not love letters, but certain items that you cherish because they came from your spouse when you were dating

    • Salvation

        • Our prayer is that you cherish God’s Word at least with the same measure, but hopefully even more than those items from your spouse

        • We hope that your desire is to read and study God’s Word (His love letter to you)


When people ask me where they should begin to read the Bible, I inevitably point them to the Gospel of John. ​​ The reason I do this is because it gives a great overview of Jesus and who He was and is. ​​ John does something that none of the other Gospel writers do. ​​ He throws down an important theological truth that His readers need to embrace in order to understand the rest of his gospel. ​​ John wants everyone to know and understand that . . .


BIG IDEA – God and Jesus are One! ​​ (Jesus is God!)


Let’s pray


  • GOD (John 1:1-5)

    • Background

        • Author

          • There seems to be a lot of discussion about who the author is, but most believe it was John the apostle of Jesus Christ

            • He was the son of Zebedee and the brother of James

            • Together, James and John were known as the “Sons of Thunder”

          • John was writing to both new Christians and non-Christians

            • He wrote to Jews and Gentiles

            • This is important, because the other Gospel writers seemed to be writing to specific groups

            • “Matthew wrote with his fellow Jews in mind . . . Mark wrote for the busy Romans . . . Luke wrote his Gospel for the Greeks.” ​​ [Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, 284]

        • Date written

          • A.D. 85-90

          • John was writing after the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, but before his exile to Patmos

        • Structure of the Gospel of John

          • Prologue (John 1:1-18)

          • The Book of Signs (John 1-12)

            • John the Baptist (1:19-51)

            • The Institutions of Judaism (2:1-4:54)

            • The Festivals of Judaism (5:1-10:39)

            • Lazarus & Jesus’ Anointing (11:1-12:8)

            • Jesus’ Final Plea in Jerusalem (12:9-50)

          • The Book of Glory (John 13-20)

            • Footwashing (13:1-32)

            • Jesus’ Farewell Discourse (13:31-16:33)

            • Jesus’ Final Prayer (17)

            • The Passion Story (18-20)

          • Epilogue (John 21)

        • Purpose/Theme

          • John does us a favor and tells us exactly why he wrote his Gospel

          • John 20:30-31, Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. ​​ But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

          • Theme for the Gospel of John is BELIEVE!

            • The word “believe” is found 58 times in John’s Gospel (NIV translation)

            • The thing that John wants us to believe is that God and Jesus are One! ​​ That Jesus is God!

            • That belief sets the stage for the rest of the Gospel and the Bible as a whole

            • My prayer is that through the study of John, we will come to understand and believe, without a shadow of doubt, that Jesus is God!

        • John immediately begins to establish that truth as he opens his Gospel message

    • Who is Jesus? (vv. 1-3)

        • PRINCIPLE/TRUTH – Jesus is eternal

          • In the beginning

            • When you hear the words, “in the beginning,” what comes to mind?

              • The very first verse of the Bible in Genesis 1:1 usually comes to mind

              • Genesis 1:1, In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

              • It’s not by chance that John is connecting his Gospel to creation

            • “Each of the four Gospels begins, appropriately enough, with a reference to some kind of beginning. ​​ Mark’s heading is ‘Beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ’ (Mk 1:1). ​​ Matthew opens with ‘an account of the origin of Jesus Christ’ (Mt 1:1). ​​ Luke acknowledges the traditions of ‘those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word’ (Lk 1:2). ​​ John’s ‘beginning’ (archē) is the earliest of all, for the vocabulary of John’s preamble is decisively shaped by the opening verses of Genesis.” ​​ [Michaels, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, 46]

            • I like how D. A. Carson puts it in the words of John, “Mark has told you about the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry; I want to show you that the starting point of the gospel can be traced farther back than that, before the beginning of the entire universe.” ​​ [Carson, The Pillar New Testament Commentary, The Gospel According to John, 114]

          • From this we understand and know that Jesus is eternal – He has always been and will always be

          • Word

            • The Word is Jesus

              • Notice that each time “Word” is used it is capitalized

              • That’s a reference to a person, which is Jesus Christ

            • Was the Word

              • This speaks of Jesus’ preexistence

              • Rev. 22:13, I am the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.

              • Some religions of the world try to marginalize and minimize the truth that Jesus is eternal, by saying that He was the first created being, a good man, a wise rabbi, or another prophet from God

                • What that does is strip Jesus of His divinity and deity, therefore He cannot be our Savior

                • This opens the door to universalism (all roads lead to heaven, we all worship the same God, everyone will eventually be saved) and syncretism (combining different forms of belief or practice, taking the “best practices or beliefs” of every religion and molding it into one)

              • John is laying the foundation for the truth that Jesus is God, and removing any doubt that Jesus is anything but eternal

              • So, it stands to reason that if Jesus was around at the beginning, He was either with God or is God

              • What we see next is John insisting on both and not one or the other

        • PRINCIPLE/TRUTH – Jesus is God

          • We continue then with the concept of Jesus being the Word

            • Word was with God

              • John takes it a step further by saying that Jesus was with God

              • A literal translation of the Greek would be, the Word was toward God

                • It is the idea of active face-to-face relationship [Köstenberger, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, John, 27 and Gangel, Holman New Testament Commentary, John, 9]

                • It is not something passive

                • They are working together as companions in the creative process

                  • Another understanding of the Greek word for “with” is accompaniment

                  • We’re familiar with that word when it comes to music

                  • The person playing the piano while someone else is singing is called an accompanist (coming alongside, working together, in an active relationship with the singer)

              • John explains that Jesus was in an active relationship with God at the very beginning of time, but we also know, from Scripture, that Jesus is God

            • Word was God

              • Some religions of the world misuse the original Greek to try to say that it should be translated as, the Word was a god

                • I don’t want us to get bogged down with the nuisances of ancient Greek

                • Just understand that those who have translated it as, the Word was God, have done so correctly

              • God and Jesus are One! ​​ (Jesus is God!)

          • “Jesus shares his nature and being with God – ‘the Word was God.’ ​​ He is of the same character and quality as God (v. 1). ​​ Everything that can be said about God can be said about Jesus Christ.” ​​ [Carter, Wredberg, Christ-Centered Exposition: ​​ Exalting Jesus in John, 11]

          • We see then this simple statement in verse 2 that Jesus was with God in the beginning

            • It’s really a restatement of what John has just said

            • Jesus is God and therefore He is eternal and preexistent

          • Kenneth Gangel shares this story – “During the years I pastored my first church, my wife spent some time each week tutoring a young girl who had fallen behind in her reading at school. ​​ Since Linda was from a Christian family, part of the reading centered in Bible story books. ​​ One day Linda asked a penetrating question about the pictures she found in those books: ​​ ‘How do I tell the difference between Jesus and God? ​​ They both look alike to me.’ ​​ The artists, of course, had included all pictures of Jesus since God the Father is Spirit and cannot be shown by anything but symbols such as light or sound. ​​ But Linda had learned that Jesus was God, so she kept looking for pictures of both of them throughout her books. ​​ A natural mistake, and one which reinforces John’s point throughout this book and especially the early verses of this first chapter.” ​​ [Gangel, 8]

          • Linda understood that God and Jesus are One! ​​ (Jesus is God!)

          • We see a third principle then as John continues to explain who Jesus is

        • PRINCIPLE/TRUTH – Jesus is Creator

          • “Divine being gives way to divine action, starting with the creation of the world.” ​​ [Michaels, 51]

          • First, John states this truth in a positive way

            • The “him” refers back to the “Word,” meaning Jesus

            • What John is saying is that through the preexistent Jesus, all things were made

            • He then strengthens this truth by restating it in a negative way

          • Then he restates the truth in a negative way

            • When John says that without Jesus nothing was made, we know he’s not referring to Himself and God, because they have always been

            • He is referring to the universe and everything in our world

              • All we have to do is look at the Genesis account of creation to see all that God and Jesus created in this world

              • It includes the water, sky, land, vegetation, animals, and human beings

              • They continue their creative activities as new human beings are born

            • There is a change in the verb tense from the beginning of verse 3 to the end of verse 3

              • We see the verb tense change from were made to was made

              • D. A. Carson says this signals a change “from the act of creation to the state of creation.” ​​ [Carson, 118]

              • Wiersbe clarifies the transition to the state of creation by sharing that, “was made,” is in the perfect tense, which identifies it as a completed action [Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, New Testament, Vol. 1, 284]

              • The initial creation of the world is a completed action

          • We see other Biblical writers expressing Jesus’ involvement in creation

            • Colossians 1:16-17, For by him all things were created: ​​ things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. ​​ He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

            • Hebrews 1:1-2, In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe.

            • Revelation 3:14, “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ​​ These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation.”

        • We’ve discovered the truths of who Jesus is (eternal, God, and creator), now John shares the truth of why He came

    • Why Jesus came? (vv. 4-5)

        • “What are the essentials for human life? ​​ There are at least four: ​​ light (if the sun went out, everything would die), air, water, and food.” ​​ [Wiersbe, 285]

          • Scripture shows us that Jesus is all four of those

          • John 8:12, When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. ​​ Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

          • Through the Holy Spirit we have the “breath of life” and the Water of life

            • John 3:8, “The wind blows wherever it pleases. ​​ You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. ​​ So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

            • John 20:22, And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

            • John 4:10, 13-14, Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” . . . Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. ​​ Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.

          • John 6:35, Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. ​​ He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.

        • Life

          • The opposite of life is death

            • When someone dies there is a separation that takes place – a separating of the soul from the body

            • “If physical death is the separation of the soul from the body, then spiritual death is a separation of the soul from God.” ​​ [Carter/Wredberg, 12]

              • This is what Paul means when he says, for the wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23)

              • What we earn or deserve for our sinful nature is to be eternally separated from God

              • This is serious, because we are all born with a “want-to” to sin (Rom. 3:23) – no one is exempt from being born a sinner

            • Those who live apart from Jesus Christ are spiritually dead

              • Ephesians 2:1-3, As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. ​​ All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. ​​ Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.

              • If we die while living apart from Jesus Christ, then our eternal home will be hell – eternal separation from God

            • That’s not the will of God for humanity

              • He loves us with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3)

              • His desire is that everyone repents of their sins and turns to Him for salvation

              • 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.

              • Matthew 18:14, In the same way our Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.

            • God’s plan to deal with our sin

              • God sent Jesus from heaven to earth to be the perfect sacrifice for sin (Rom. 5:8)

              • Jesus willingly died on the cross to take our punishment for sin

              • This was all foretold by the prophets of old as Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4

            • While all of us will experience the separation of our soul from our body (unless Jesus returns before we die), none of us has to experience the separation of our soul from God

          • How can we experience spiritual life?

            • Jesus explained it to Martha after Lazarus’s death

            • John 11:25, Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. ​​ He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. ​​ Do you believe this?”

            • You need to ask yourself that question today

              • Do you believe that Jesus is the resurrection and the life?

              • Do you believe that Jesus offers you eternal life?

              • Do you believe that, through Jesus’ perfect sacrifice on the cross, you will not experience the separation of your soul from God?

              • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Believe that Jesus is the resurrection and the life and receive God’s gift of eternal life.

          • The life that Jesus offers us is what gives us hope

        • Light

          • Prior to Jesus’ arrival on earth we see the prophet Isaiah’s words, The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned (Isaiah 9:2)

          • Darkness and light are not opposites, rather darkness is simply the absence of light

          • As we saw in John 8:12, Jesus is the Light of the world

          • John uses light as another way to explain salvation

          • “Light” is in the present tense

            • It means that it’s a continual action

            • It can be translated as, And the light keeps on shining in the darkness . . .

            • This brings continued hope for us as followers of Jesus

            • It’s not too late for our family and friends, because Jesus light is continuing to shine in their darkness

            • He has not given up on them, but continues to offer salvation to anyone who believes that He is the resurrection and the life

          • The verb translated “understood” can also be translated as “overcome”

            • Burge explains the double meaning this way, “to grasp with the mind and so to comprehend; and to grasp with the hand and so to overcome or destroy.” ​​ [Burge, The NIV Application Commentary, John, 56]

            • John is saying that the darkness could not comprehend or overcome the light

            • While “light” was in the present tense meaning a continual action, “overcome” is in a tense that means a completed action

            • “The darkness has done everything is could: ​​ it schemed and plotted, but it ran out of ideas.” ​​ [Carter/Wredberg, 14]

            • 2 Timothy 1:9b-10, This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.


  • YOU

    • Embrace the truth

        • John explains a foundational theological truth that we need to embrace in order to understand the rest of his Gospel

        • God and Jesus are One! ​​ (Jesus is God!)

          • We have seen today that Jesus is eternal – He was with God at the beginning

          • We have also learned that Jesus is God

          • Finally, we saw that Jesus is also creator

        • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Embrace the truth that God and Jesus are One!

    • Believe in Jesus

        • We also learned why Jesus came to earth

        • It was to drive out the darkness of sin that Satan had covered the earth with

        • He came to bring us life and light


  • WE

    • Our responsibility as followers of Jesus Christ is to share the truth about God and Jesus being One and the hope found in Jesus as Life and Light

    • That is our mission as the church: ​​ Pursue, Grow, and Multiple Disciples for Jesus Christ


“An atheist and a Christian were engaged in an intense public debate. On the blackboard behind the podium the atheist printed in large capital letters, ‘GOD IS NOWHERE.’ When the Christian rose to offer his rebuttal, he rubbed out the W at the beginning of where and added that letter to the preceding word no. Then the statement read, ‘GOD IS NOW HERE.’”


Vernon Grounds, Radical Commitment. Christianity Today, Vol. 30, no. 7.





Easter 2019

Same Power

(Matthew 28:1-10)



“Nelson Mandela, who opposed the South African apartheid regime and was imprisoned for almost 3 decades, knew the power of words. He is often quoted today, but while in prison his words could not be quoted for fear of repercussion. A decade after his release he said: ‘It is never my custom to use words lightly. If 27 years in prison have done anything to us, it was to use the silence of solitude to make us understand how precious words are, and how real speech is in its impact on the way people live and die.’


King Solomon, author of most of the Old Testament book of Proverbs, wrote often about the power of words. He said, ‘Death and life are in the power of the tongue’ (Prov. 18:21). Words have the potential to produce positive or negative consequences (v. 20). They have the power to give life through encouragement and honesty or to crush and kill through lies and gossip.”


By Marvin Williams, Our Daily Bread, August 26, 2015





  • ME

    • Hurting Judy with my words

        • We let our guard down when we’re at home, especially when it comes to our words

        • I know in my own life that I have said things in the past that have hurt Judy

        • It may have been the content of the what I said, but also the tone with which I’ve said it

        • I don’t intend to hurt her with my words, but it happens

    • Hurting my boys with my words

        • I’ve done the same with my boys

        • One thing I’ve learned recently is that I need to communicate with my boys in the same way they’re communicating with me

          • If they’re expressing feelings or emotions, I need to respond with feelings or emotions

          • If they’re sharing facts, I need to respond with facts

          • What normally happens is that I respond with facts, when they’ve communicating with feelings or emotions

          • I’m still learning how to do this, because it’s new to me

        • An example

          • Levi was expressing frustration with his cell phone, because it wasn’t working properly

          • He was telling me that he needed a new(er) phone

          • He was expressing his feelings of frustration about not having a phone that was working correctly

          • What I heard was, “I need a new phone!” and my response was factual, “We can’t afford to get you a new phone.”

          • My response should have addressed the feelings of frustration he was having instead of telling him, “just the facts”

          • I should have said, “I understand how frustrating it can be when something doesn’t work properly.”


  • WE

    • Letting our guard down at home

        • Every one of us has probably said things to our family members that we regret

        • We let our guard down at home and we don’t watch what we say

        • We may say things in the heat of the moment that show our true feelings, that we would not normally say out loud

    • Guarding our tongue

        • It happens to all of us, we sometimes don’t guard our tongue, but allow it to say things that are hurtful

        • Gossip is something that is so easy to do, because we “feel better” after we share something about someone else

        • Unfortunately, our words have the power to crush and ruin those around us

    • The great thing is that, as followers of Jesus Christ, we have the power within us to guard our tongue and use it to encourage and build others up, because of the Holy Spirit


I want us to look at how God and Jesus Christ used the power of their words to do some pretty incredible things throughout history. ​​ The greatest display of God’s power is what we’re celebrating today. ​​ We will see today that the same power, God used to raise Jesus from the dead, lives in us. ​​ Our big idea today is that . . .


BIG IDEA – God’s power lives within us.


Let’s pray


  • GOD (Matthew 28:1-10)

    • Background

        • I want us to walk through Scripture for just a moment and remember how powerful God and Jesus’ Words were

        • Creation

          • And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light (Genesis 1:3)

          • And God said, “Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water.” (Genesis 1:6)

          • And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” ​​ And it was so . . . Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: ​​ seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” ​​ And it was so. (Genesis 1:9, 11)

          • And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth.” ​​ And it was so. ​​ (Genesis 1:14-15)

          • And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky.” ​​ (Genesis 1:20)

          • And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: ​​ livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind.” ​​ And it was so . . . Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” ​​ (Genesis 1:24, 26)

        • Exodus

          • Then say “The Lord, the God of the Hebrews, has sent me to say to you: ​​ Let my people go, so that they may worship me in the desert. ​​ But until now you have not listened. ​​ This is what the Lord says: ​​ By this you will know that I am the Lord: ​​ With the staff that is in my hand I will strike the water of the Nile, and it will be changed into blood. ​​ The fish in the Nile will die, and the river will stink; the Egyptians will not be able to drink its water.” ​​ (Exodus 7:16-18)

          • Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘This is what the Lord says: ​​ Let my people go, so that they may worship me. ​​ If you refuse to let them god, I will plague your whole country with frogs. ​​ The Nile will teem with frogs. ​​ They will come up into your palace and your bedroom and onto your bed, into the houses of your officials and on hour people, and into your ovens and kneading troughs. ​​ The frogs will go up on you and your people and all your officials.’” ​​ (Exodus 8:1-4)

          • Then the Lord said to Moses, “Get up early in the morning and confront Pharaoh as he goes to the water and say to him, ‘This is what the Lord says: ​​ Let my people go, so that they may worship me. ​​ If you do not let my people go, I will send swarms of flies on you and your officials, on your people and into your houses. ​​ The houses of the Egyptians will be full of flies, and even the ground where they are. ​​ But on that day I will deal differently with the land of Goshen, where my people live; no swarms of flies will be there, so that you will know that I, the Lord, am in this land. ​​ I will make a distinction between my people and our people. ​​ This miraculous sign will occur tomorrow.’” ​​ (Exodus 8:20-23)

          • Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, says: ​​ ‘Let my people go, so that they may worship me.’ ​​ If you refuse to let them go and continue to hold them back, the hand of the Lord will bring a terrible plague on your livestock in the field – on your horses and donkeys and camels and on your cattle and sheep and goats. ​​ But the Lord will make a distinction between the livestock of Israel and that of Egypt, so that no animal belonging to the Israelites will die.’” ​​ (Exodus 9:1-4)

          • Then the Lord said to Moses, “Get up early in the morning, confront Pharaoh and say to him, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, says: ​​ Let my people go, so that they may worship me, or this time I will send the full force of my plagues against you and against your officials and your people, so you may know that there is no one like me in all the earth . . . Therefore, at this time tomorrow I will send the worst hailstorm that has ever fallen on Egypt, from the day it was founded till now.’” ​​ (Exodus 9:13-14, 18)

          • So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said to him, “This is what the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, says: ​​ ‘How long will you refuse to humble yourself before me? ​​ Let my people go, so that they may worship me. ​​ If you refuse to let them go, I will bring locusts into your country tomorrow. ​​ They will cover the face of the ground so that it cannot be seen. ​​ They will devour what little you have left after the hail, including every tree that is growing in your fields. ​​ They will fill your houses and those of all your officials and all the Egyptians – something neither your fathers nor your forefathers have ever seen from the day they settled in this land till now.’” ​​ (Exodus 10:3-6)

          • So Moses said, “This is what the Lord says: ​​ ‘About midnight I will go throughout Egypt. ​​ Every firstborn son in Egypt will die, from the firstborn son of Pharaoh, who sits on the throne, to the firstborn of the cattle as well. ​​ There will be loud wailing throughout Egypt – worse than there has ever been or ever will be again. ​​ But among the Israelites not a dog will bark at any man or animal.’ ​​ Then you will know that the Lord makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel. ​​ All these officials of yours will come to me, bowing down before me and saying, ‘Go, you and all the people who follow you!’ ​​ After that I will leave.” ​​ Then Moses, hot with anger left Pharaoh. ​​ (Exodus 11:4-8)

        • Jesus

          • Jesus’ first miracle

            • The Gospel of John is the only Gospel that records Jesus’ first miracle

            • We know that Jesus and His disciples are at a wedding at Cana in Galilee

            • His mother is also in attendance and tells Jesus that they have run out of wine

            • “Dear woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. ​​ “My time has not yet come.” ​​ His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” ​​ 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.” . . . He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him. ​​ (John 2:4-8, 11b)

            • We know that when they took the sample of the water to the master that it had been turned into the best wine

            • Jesus simply spoke the words and told the servants what to do – there was power in His words

          • Jesus casting out demons with a word

            • When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. ​​ This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: ​​ “He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases.” ​​ (Matthew 8:16-17)

            • Jesus had just crossed the Sea of Galilee and entered the region of the Gerasenes, when He was approached by a demon-possessed man. ​​ The demon, whose name was Legion, begged Jesus not to torture them or drive them out of the area. ​​ The Gospel of Mark tells us, For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you evil spirit!” ​​ (Mark 5:8). ​​ The demons were granted their request to be sent among a herd of about two thousand pigs, which then ran into the sea and drowned

            • A Greek woman from Syrian Phoenicia heard that Jesus had arrived in the vicinity of Tyre and she went to Him to beg Him to drive the demon out of her daughter. ​​ After Jesus uses the situation to teach this woman what was right, He said, “For such a reply, you may go; the demon has left your daughter.” ​​ She went home and found her child lying on the bed, and the demon gone. ​​ (Mark 7:29-30)

          • Jesus healing with a word

            • Roman Centurion (Matthew 8:5-13)

              • When Jesus entered Capernaum, a Centurion asked for His help concerning his servant was paralyzed and in terrible suffering

              • Jesus told him that He would come and heal his servant, but the Centurion tells Him to just say the word

              • Jesus explained to the crowd the incredible faith that the Centurion demonstrated

              • Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! ​​ It will be done just as you believed it would.” ​​ And his servant was healed at that very hour. ​​ (Matt. 8:13)

            • Government officials son (John 4:46-54)

              • Jesus had returned to Cana of Galilee and when a royal official heard about it, he came to Jesus to ask Him to heal his son

              • The royal official wanted Jesus to come with him to Capernaum to heal his son, but Jesus had a different plan

              • Jesus replied, “You may go. ​​ Your son will live.” ​​ The man took Jesus at his word and departed. ​​ (John 4:50)

              • When the official talked with his servants on the road, they all realized that his son was healed at the exact time that Jesus said the word

            • Paralyzed man (Luke 5:17-26)

              • A paralyzed man had some very great friends

              • They brought him on a mat to Jesus, but had to lower him through the roof, because it was so crowded

              • When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.” ​​ (Luke 5:20)

              • This didn’t sit well with the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who were present

              • Which is easier: ​​ to say, “Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? ​​ But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins . . .” He said to the paralyzed man, “I tell you, get up take your mat and go home.” ​​ Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God. ​​ (Luke 5:23-26a)

          • Jesus during His passion

            • Garden of Gethsemane and Mount of Olives

              • After the last supper, Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray with His disciples

              • During that time, Judas brings a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and Pharisees

              • Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, “Who is it you want?” ​​ “Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. ​​ “I am he,” Jesus said. . . . When Jesus said, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground. ​​ Again he asked them, “Who is it you want?” ​​ And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” ​​ “I told you that I am he,” Jesus answered. ​​ (John 18:4-8a)

              • We see the power of Jesus’ words at His arrest

            • Jesus on the cross

              • As Jesus is hanging on the cross, He cries out to God saying, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” ​​ (Matt. 27:46b)

              • He is offered a drink of wine vinegar

              • He then says in a loud voice, “It is finished.” ​​ (John 19:30)

              • At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. ​​ The earth shook and the rocks split. ​​ The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. ​​ They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus’ resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people. ​​ (Matt. 27:51-53)

              • There was power in Jesus’ final words on the cross

        • All of this leads us to the culmination, the climax, of God’s power

    • Jesus is alive! (Matthew 28:1-10)

        • “One sleepy Sunday afternoon when my son was five-years-old, we drove past a cemetery together. Noticing a large pile of dirt beside a newly excavated grave, he pointed and said: "Look, Dad, one got out!" I laughed, but now, every time I pass a graveyard, I'm reminded of the One who got out.”

          Phil Callaway, from the April 16 entry of Men of Integrity (March/April 2006)


        • The empty tomb (vv. 1-7)

          • “Jesus’ resurrection had already occurred, notwithstanding the massive stone barrier (v. 6). ​​ The resurrection itself is never described anywhere in Scripture, presumably because no one ever saw Jesus leave the tomb.” ​​ [Blomberg, New American Commentary, Matthew, 427]

            • It’s likely that Jesus left the tomb prior to the stone being rolled away, as we’ll see in a moment, but we don’t know how far in advance it happened

            • We can be sure that it was not the night before, because He said, prior to His death, that He would raise up the temple again in 3 days – referring to His resurrection

            • Since Jesus’ resurrection is not described in Scripture, we can only speculate about how it took place

              • I would like to think that God simply said, “Jesus, it’s time to rise!”

              • That idea meshes well with what we’ve seen throughout Scripture about God’s power through the spoken word

            • So, by the time the women go to the tomb, it’s already empty

          • Women went to the tomb

            • The Sabbath was sacred for the Jews, which meant that nothing could be done during the Sabbath

            • While they may have finished purchasing the necessary spices after sunset on Saturday, they waited until just before sunrise on Sunday to go to the tomb

            • Most of us wouldn’t blame them for waiting until sunrise, because most people have a fear of cemeteries, especially after dark

            • At the earliest opportunity we see two women, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, headed to the tomb

            • Some of the other Gospel writers include other women in the group

            • There is a discussion between the women about who is going to roll the stone away, so they can complete the embalming process (Mark 16:3), but we see that they don’t have to worry about that

          • Angel rolls the stone away

            • A violent earthquake

              • Matthew’s account tells us that a violent earthquake happens when the angel of the Lord comes down from heaven and rolls the stone away

                • It could have been an aftershock from the earthquake that happened when Jesus died

                • “While not uncommon in this region, this second earthquake surrounds the supreme supernatural event, the resurrection of Jesus. ​​ A. T. Robertson quotes Cornelius à Lapide as saying, ‘The earth, which trembled with sorrow at the Death of Christ as it were leaped for joy at His Resurrection.’” ​​ [Wilkins, The NIV Application Commentary, Matthew, 937]

                • It seems clear that the earthquake was a result of the angel coming down from heaven and rolling the stone back from the entrance to the tomb

                • We see that, with the word “for,” used after the mention of there being a violent earthquake

                • The “for” means that this is the reason why the violent earthquake happened

              • Rolling this enormous stone away from the entrance of the tomb was nothing for the angel of the Lord, so he just sits on top of it and waits for the women to arrive

            • Appearance of the angel

              • The appearance of the angel should not come as a surprise to us, especially after our study in Revelation and how the New Jerusalem will not need a light source, because the glory of God is all the light that is needed

              • This angel has been in the presence of God’s glory, so his appearance is like lightning and his clothes are as white as snow, representing purity

              • The glory of God reflecting from this angel is obviously too much for the guards who were standing watch at the tomb

                • The purity of God reflected in His angel strikes fear into the guards

                • Their fear was so real that they shook and became like dead men

                • “The ones assigned to guard the dead themselves appear dead while the dead one has been made alive.” ​​ [Donald Hagner cited by Wilkins, 938]

                • We know that eventually the guards regain their composure and report what they saw to the Pharisees and religious leaders, who coach them concerning what to say

            • It appears as though the angel does not speak to the guards, but he does speak to the women when they arrive

          • The women encounter the angel

            • He tells them not be afraid, which is probably why they did not end up like the guards – shaking in fear and becoming paralyzed

            • They’re at the right tomb

              • Have you ever driven somewhere that you’ve only been to once or twice and when you arrive, you begin to second guess whether or not you’re at the right place?

              • There is no question that the women have arrived at the right tomb, because the angel tells them that he knows they are looking for Jesus who was crucified

            • Jesus has risen

              • He is not in the tomb, because He did exactly what He told them He would do – He kept His promise

              • He had shared, on multiple occasions, with the Twelve and the other disciples, who followed Him, that He would be crucified, buried, and come alive again in 3 days

              • “‘Come and see the place’ verifies that this is the correct tomb and correct location within the tomb, thus stressing that he really is alive.” ​​ [Blomberg, 427]

              • It also helps the women, and us, understand that Jesus’ resurrection was not only spiritual, but also physical – His physical body was not there

            • The angel gives them instructions

              • The women are the first witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection – they have a responsibility as witnesses

              • The same is true when you and I witness an accident or some other crime – we have a responsibility as witnesses to tell what we saw and heard

              • The women were given the responsibility of sharing the incredible news of Jesus’ resurrection with His disciples

              • They were told what to tell the disciples – “He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. ​​ There you will see him.”

              • Because of the amount of time the disciples had spent with Jesus in Galilee, they probably knew right where to go – it would have been a spot where they had spent a lot of time with Jesus

            • The angel had completed his task

          • The women immediately began their task

        • Jesus appears to the women (vv. 8-10)

          • The women had two emotions running through their bodies

            • They were afraid, probably because they had never encountered an angel before

            • They were filled with joy, because Jesus was alive

            • While they were trying to deal with these opposing emotions, Jesus meets them on the path

          • Their response to seeing Jesus

            • Jesus basically says, “Hello!”

            • They obviously recognized Him immediately, because they bowed down to worship at His feet

            • This is the correct posture to have when confronted by the King of kings and Lord of lords

          • Jesus comforts them and reiterates the angels instructions

            • Knowing that the women were afraid after encountering the angel, Jesus tells them not to be afraid

            • He gives them the same instructions that the angel had given the – “Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

            • He calls the disciples His brothers, which could simply mean that they are now part of the family of God through Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection – God’s redemptive plan for humanity had been completed


  • YOU

    • Followers of Jesus Christ

        • We’ve seen today that God is all-powerful (omnipotent)

        • He has the power to simply use words to do the miraculous

        • As followers of Jesus Christ, we have the same power living in us, through the Holy Spirit of God

        • It’s the same power that allowed Jesus to come alive again

        • Life’s difficulties

          • Financial, emotional, physical, mental, spiritual

          • God is able to help you through every one of those

          • Read Ephesians 3:14-21

        • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Recognize that as a follower of Jesus Christ, I have the power of the Holy Spirit living in me to overcome any difficulties in life.

    • Those seeking a relationship with Christ

        • If you’ve never pursued a relationship with Jesus Christ, then you don’t have the power of the Holy Spirit living in you, but you can change that today

        • Jesus died on the cross to take your punishment for sin

          • We’re all born with the same condition – sin (Rom. 3:23)

          • God is holy (perfect), so He has to punish sin (Rom. 6:23a)

          • God is also loving, so He made a plan to deal with our sin (Rom. 5:8)

          • Romans 10:9-10, 13, That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. ​​ For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. . . . for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

        • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Confess with my mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe that God used His incredible power to raise Him from the dead to take my punishment for sin so I can be saved.


  • WE



We’re going to close this morning with the song “Arise My Love” written by NewSong and performed by The Akins.





Jesus Unveiled

Coming Soon

(Revelation 22:6-21)



“In April of 2008, I had to drive to Fort Wayne, Indiana, for work, so I went to Enterprise to rent a car. They gave me a big, brand-new, comfy Chrysler 300 to drive—and I loved it! In fact, I enjoyed feeling large and in charge so much that I blew right past the first tollbooth. You see, I'm not used to stopping for tollbooths, because I have an I-PASS in my own car—a little device that signals I've already prepaid my tolls.


After passing the first tollbooth, I thought about it: Oh! This car doesn't have an I-PASS! But just as I started to worry about it, I thought, This car belongs to the rental-car company—not me. So they're probably responsible for any tolls. That must be what your rental money goes toward covering.


When I got on 294, I drove past another toll, thinking, Even if I am responsible for the tolls, there's only a few tolls between here and Indiana—maybe $4 round trip. I'm sure there's some threshold where they don't even bother sending you a bill for the tolls. I mean, it wouldn't be worth their time to send me a bill for only $4. Nothing's going to happen!


After I returned home from my business trip, a month or two went by. Nothing happened—and I knew nothing ever would. But then, in October, I received a piece of mail that read: "Notice of Toll Violation."


I was right, to a degree. The Tollway Authority wouldn't bother sending me a bill for my measly $3.90 in tolls. But when you add in a $20 fine for every one of the 5 tollbooths I drove past, they did bother sending me a bill for $103.90!


I about had a heart attack. They had me dead to rights. They had a photo of my rental-car's license plate. They even knew the exact lane number I was in. The fact that months had gone by and nothing had happened didn't mean that nothing was ever going to happen.


In a passage concerning the return of Christ, Peter says: Get a clue, people! Just because the Lord hasn't come back yet, don't think for a minute that he won't! The Lord isn't being slow about his promise, as some people think. No—he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.”


Kevin Miller, executive vice president, Christianity Today International




  • ME

    • Hunting license

        • If I want to get a doe tag for the hunting season I have to prepare ahead of time

        • Last year hunting license went on sale June 18, 2018

        • I’m not normally thinking about hunting in the middle of summer, but I have to prepare in the summer so I can get a doe tag in the unit I’d like

    • Blood work

        • In order to go to the doctor for my biannual checkup I have to prepare in advance

        • They want me to get blood work done a week before my appointment

        • I went on Thursday to have my blood drawn in preparation for my appointment


  • WE

    • Taxes

        • Some of us have been preparing to pay our taxes on Monday

        • Those of us who own our own businesses have to make quarterly tax payments, so we don’t have a huge tax bill in April

        • If we don’t make quarterly payments, then we have to put money aside each month in order to have it available to pay taxes at the end of the year

    • Vehicle inspection

        • We have to prepare to have our vehicles inspected, especially if it doesn’t pass inspection and needs to have work done on it

        • We can’t wait until the inspection has expired to have it inspected, otherwise we could be without a vehicle

As John finishes writing his letter to the seven churches, it is mentioned three times that Jesus is coming soon. ​​ For John, he wanted the readers of his letter to realize that Jesus could come back at any moment and they needed to live in that anticipation every day. ​​ If they failed to live with the anticipation of Jesus’ imminent return, then they may not be prepared for His return. ​​ John wants us to understand that . . .


BIG IDEA – Jesus’ return is near, so be prepared.


We will see in these final verses how we can and should prepare for Jesus’ return.


Let’s pray


  • GOD (Revelation 22:6-21)

    • Osborne provides an excellent outline for Revelation 22:6-21, so I’ll be using his five main points as the headings for five points this morning [Osborne, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, Revelation, 780-98]

    • Authenticating the Book (vv. 6-7)

        • The angel repeats the same words as the Lord, found in Revelation 21:5, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

          • The angel and the Lord were both referring to the entire book of Revelation and not just the preceding vision or the following content

          • PRINCIPLE – God’s promises are “trustworthy and true” and He will fulfill them.

            • These two terms are attributes of God

            • He is completely trustworthy

              • He never fails us

              • He never says one thing and does another

              • He never over promises

              • He always keep His promises

            • He is always true

              • He never says anything that is false

              • He never lies

              • He doesn’t try to hide the truth

            • What we have seen and studied in Revelation will happen (we may not know when, but we can trust the Lord to fulfill His promises and His prophecy)

            • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Acknowledge that God is trustworthy and true through my adoration of Him.

              • Adoration is the first part of prayer in the acrostic A.C.T.S.

              • Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication

              • It is praying back to God, His perfect character traits

          • How the prophecy of Revelation was communicated

            • John shared this at the beginning of the Revelation and restates it differently here

            • Revelation 1:1, The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. ​​ He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who testifies to everything he saw – that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.

            • John says here that it came from the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets

              • Is the Holy Spirit being referenced here or is it the spirit of the prophets?

              • “As for the debate about whether πνεμάτων (pneumatōn) refers to the Holy Spirit or to the prophets themselves, one cannot do better than Swete (1911: 303), who says it means ‘the natural faculties of the Prophets, raised and quickened by the Holy Spirit.’ ​​ Fee (1987: 696) puts it another way: ​​ it refers to ‘‘the prophetic Spirit’ by which each of them speaks through his or her own spirit.’’” ​​ [Osborne, 780-81]

              • It is how we refer to the authors of the Bible who were inspired by the Holy Spirit of God to write down what we find in the Bible today

              • 2 Peter 1:21, For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

            • It was sent through the Lord’s angel and given to the servants of the Lord

              • Servants obviously refers to the prophets and the Apostle John

              • It also refers, on a broader scope, to all believers, especially since the word “servant” is used throughout Revelation referring to believers

            • It all focuses on what must soon take place

              • We could take quite a bit of time unpacking this idea

              • It has been over two-thousand years since Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection and John’s writing of Revelation

              • How could John’s statement about the events of the apocalypse coming soon be valid for us today?

              • 2 Peter 3:8-9, 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 timing is perfect and what may seem a long time to us is a short time in the scope of salvation history

          • What we must do as followers of Jesus Christ is wait patiently for our infinite God to fulfill His perfect plan – we can do this because He is trustworthy and true

        • Jesus speaks

          • Jesus then reiterates the angel’s words by saying that He is coming soon – His return is imminent

          • Jesus speaks a blessing over those who keep the words of the prophecy in this book

            • The Greek form of the word “keep” helps us to understand that it is a continual, ongoing observance and not a onetime event [Patterson, The New American Commentary, Revelation, 379-380]

            • Dennis Johnson explains it well, Scripture is not a passive cadaver, waiting for curious medical students to dissect it in their quest for information. ​​ It is a living, double-edged sword that proceeds from the mouth of the triumphant Son of Man and pierces the thoughts and intents of our hearts. ​​ It is a hammer that shatters, a seed that grows, rainfall that never returns to its Giver without accomplishing the mission on which he sent it. ​​ Scripture has a job to do in us. ​​ (Triumph of the Lamb, 334) ​​ [Johnson cited by Akin, Christ-Centered Exposition: ​​ Exalting Jesus in Revelation, 351]

        • The prophecy that has been written in Revelation has come from God and Jesus Christ and so it is authentic – we can trust in it and know that it is true

        • 1st – this is the first thing we need to do to prepare for Jesus’ return – continually keep the words of the prophecy found in Revelation

    • Angel’s Commands (vv. 8-11)

        • First command [Worship God and Jesus only] (vv. 8-9)

          • John identifies himself as the one who heard and saw all of the things written in Revelation

          • His reaction to this overwhelming revelation is to fall down and worship

            • His reaction is correct – to worship!

              • John just heard Jesus say that He is coming soon

              • He also heard Jesus speak a blessing over those who continually keep the words of the prophecy found in Revelation

              • Perhaps he simply got caught up in the words of Jesus and forgot that it was an angel in front of him and not Jesus

                • This is not the first time he has done this and been rebuked for doing it

                • Revelation 19:9-10, Then the angel said to me, “Write: ​​ ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!’” ​​ And he added, “These are the true words of God.” ​​ At this I fell at his feet to worship him. ​​ But he said to me, “Do not do it! ​​ I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. ​​ Worship God! ​​ For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of the prophecy.”

              • Our reaction to hearing that Jesus is coming soon and that He will bless those who continually keep His words, should be to fall down and worship

            • Whom John falls down in front of to worship is not correct

              • As he did before, John falls down at the feet of the wrong person

              • The result is the same – he is instructed not to do it!

              • Fellow servants

                • The angel does exactly what he should have done – point John to God and Jesus

                • He reminds John that he is simply a fellow servant

                • In fact, the angel, John, the prophets, and everyone who keeps the words of this book (all believers) are servants of God and Jesus

                • We saw last week that we will not be sitting around on clouds doing nothing, but we will be worshiping God and serving Him perfectly for all eternity

            • PRINCIPLE – God and Jesus alone are worthy of worship!

              • Exodus 20:3, “You shall have no other gods before me.”

              • Historian Joseph Loconte notes that many people today are still obsessed with angels, particularly angelic beings who seem tailor-made to meet our every need. Dr. Loconte writes:

                Take, for example, Angels 1O1: An Introduction to Connecting, Working, and Healing with the Angels, written by metaphysician Doreen Virtue. We are informed that, in contrast to the ideas of sin and guilt in some religious traditions, angels love every person unconditionally. They help everyone who calls on them, regardless of their religious faith or lack of it. ‘They look past the surface and see the godliness within all of us,’ she writes. ‘So angels aren't judgmental, and they only bring love into our lives. You're safe with the angels, and you can totally trust them.’

                [Angels] make no demands on us; rather, they wait to be summoned to help us overcome every difficulty. [Virtue claims], ‘You never have to be afraid that the angels would ever ask you to do anything that would make you feel afraid.’

                With her appearances on CNN, Oprah, and The View, Virtue's message—shared by many other authors in the field—clearly has a large audience. ‘I've discovered that the quickest and most efficient route to happiness is through connecting with the angels,’ she writes. ‘So whether you need help with your health, career, love life, family, or any other area, the angels can help you.’ Yes, even your sex life can be improved with a little angelic assistance, whatever that might mean.

                Joseph Loconte, The Searchers (Thomas Nelson, 2012), pp. 98-99


              • We know from scripture that angels are ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation (Hebrews 1:14)

              • Akin expresses it beautifully when he says, “to take a good thing (like an angel) and turn it into a god thing is to make it into a bad thing (an idol).” ​​ [Akin, 351]

              • Tim Keller says, “Worship is pulling our affections off our idols and putting them on God.” ​​ []

              • 2nd – the second thing we need to do to prepare for Jesus’ return is to make sure that we are worshiping God and Jesus only

              • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Sacrifice any idols that have taken the place of God and Jesus in my life.

                • These could be good things (hobbies, sports, etc)

                • Have they become god things in your life (have they taken the place of prayer, studying God’s Word, attending church and Bible studies, etc.)

          • The first command of the angel was to worship God and Jesus only

        • Second command [Do not seal up these prophecies] (v. 10)

          • It’s pretty straight forward, don’t seal up the words of the prophecy of this book

            • The revelation of Jesus Christ to His servants is something that God wants us to know

            • It is not to be sealed and hidden

            • All the way back in Revelation 1:1 the Greek word for revelation is apokalypsis which is where we get our English word Apocalypse (it literally means “unsealing” or “unveiling”)

            • That has been our theme for the entire book of Revelation – Jesus Unveiled

            • By the time John wrote down the revelation of Jesus, it no longer needed to be sealed or veiled, because the time was near

          • This was not always the case

            • There was a time when God wanted and needed certain visions to be sealed

            • Daniel 12:4, 9-10, But you, Daniel, close up and seal the words of the scroll until the time of the end. ​​ Many will go here and there to increase knowledge . . . He replied, “Go your way, Daniel, because the words are closed up and sealed until the time of the end. ​​ Many will be purified, made spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked. ​​ None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand.

          • Daniel’s words express what the angel’s third command was

        • Third command [Choose right or wrong] (v. 11)

          • This command is a warning to those who are unsaved

            • Only God knows the time of Jesus’ second return

            • We are told in scripture that His second coming will be like a thief in the night (Rev. 16:15; Matt. 24:43; 1 Thess. 5:2, 4; 2 Pet. 3:10)

            • This sudden second coming will not allow time for people, whether righteous or evil, to make a change

            • Our character has been set by a lifetime of habitual action, whether righteous or evil [Mounce, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, Revelation, 406]

          • This command is also an encouragement to those who are doing what is right and living holy lives (they are to continue with those actions and behaviors)

        • 3rd – the third way we can and should prepare for Jesus’ return is to choose right instead of wrong, because we never know when He will return.

        • The final major section of this passage has some additional sayings (some attribute them all to Jesus, while others attribute some to Jesus and some to John)

    • Additional Sayings (vv. 12-19)

        • Jesus (vv. 12-16)

          • Jesus is coming with His reward (vv. 12-13)

            • Jesus says the same words as He did in verse 7, “Behold, I am coming soon!”

            • He explains that He is coming with His reward

              • When we think about a reward it is something positive, right?

              • We find someone’s wallet and returned it to them with everything inside and they give us some of the money

              • Bounty hunters track down criminals and are rewarded with money

              • When Jesus is talking about coming with His reward it is both positive and negative

              • He will reward everyone, righteous and evil, based on what they have done