Being a Witness
There was a barber looking to open a barber shop, feeling he must honor the Lord if the Lord was to bless his business. He believed that meant; he needed to be able to testify of the Lord’s salvation.
So when his first customer entered his shop and sat in a chair, he tilted him back, and vigorously began to sharpen his razor on the leather strap.
Suddenly, he blurted out, “Are you ready to die?” In horror the man jumped to his feet and ran out of the shop.
This barber’s enthusiasm may have lost him his first customer, but I think his heart was right. Being a witness is not always easy and we certainly won’t lead everyone to the Lord.
But even if we say the right thing in the wrong way, it’s the right thing to do and it pleases the Lord. Move over, the advantage we have, there are a lot of customers we can practice on in sharpening our approach.
Understand this, being a witness for Christ, is the most important thing we can do. John the Baptist understood that as he served the Lord, as the last of the Old Testament prophets.
He gave a witness of Jesus as the Christ, saying that Jesus was greater than he, being the Lamb of God. And yet Jesus said of John, there is no one greater born of women.
I believe Jesus said this about John, in light of his faithfulness and his privilege in giving witness to Jesus’ coming. That ought to give new heart to our witness, even if we scare off a person or two.
In our text, we see John’s witness over the course of three days.
I. DAY ONE. (John 1:19-28)
When giving a witness, it’s always important to know something first about the person you are talking to. For John, that was easy these were priests and Levites sent to investigate John.
The question is why? John had been encroaching on their turf; people were flocking to John to be baptized. John not only came to their attention, he had scared them: “What was he doing and more importantly, Why?” “But more over, who was this Baptizer?”
Back in this day, there were those who had made claims of being the Christ (Acts 5:36,37), and proved to be ordinary men. So they come to John to ask, “Who art thou?”
John makes it absolutely clear, he is not the Christ. He made no claims of Messiahship. In as much as they were not there to embrace the Christ, but only to investigate. That had to be good news for the priests and Levites. That heart attitude itself is an indictment against them.
Still their question is unanswered, so they go through a laundry list of who he might be. Elias? No; then that prophet (implying the one Moses spoke of in Deut. 18)? No. Then who are you? Why are you baptizing if not any of these?
John humbles himself, looking only to exalt the Lord by his testimony. So on this first day, John’s witness is to say, prepare your hearts, because the Messiah is here among you.
In v.23, John answers their question in humility saying, he’s only “the voice of one crying in the wilderness, make straight the way of the Lord…”
Still in v.25 as they question John, their whole focus is on John. He is the one doing the baptizing, not another, so in their minds it’s John who they are concerned about.
But John is saying you’re looking at the wrong person, yes I may be baptizing with water; but He will baptize with the Holy Spirit. John message is that Christ is already here, and He is “preferred before me…”
It’s interesting how John uses the imagery of himself crying out in the wilderness, saying prepare yourselves.
Spiritually speaking, the priests and the Levites were not interested in the prospect of Jesus coming to them. Like a wilderness, they were spiritually dead and needed to prepare their hearts by being willing to see their unworthiness of the Messiah.
They were not willing to look at themselves, and so they were not ready to see the Christ. The same need is for us today; to see ourselves as lost in sin and in need of salavation.
II. DAY TWO (John 1:29-34)
Upon seeing the Lord, John’s next witness is not so much to targeted individuals, as to the crowd that had come to him for baptism.
As previously John is baptizing people in identifying them with the need of repentance before the coming of the Lord. It is while John is baptizing, Jesus, the Lamb of God comes walking by.
John immediately gives testimony as to who Jesus is, to all who are able and willing to listen to his voice. Prior to this, all John could do was to say, He has come; but now his witness is to say, “This is He…” from v.30.
But what about Him? He is the one “…which taketh away the sin of the world.” Because John was faithfully serving the Lord in giving a witness, he is blessed with a unique privilege in v.32.
John sees the spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abodes upon Jesus. Prior to this, John never actually met Jesus face to face, and thus he did not know Him to look upon Jesus.
So in v.33, he says, “and I knew Him not…” But now with this vision of the Spirit resting upon a particular man, John can now testify, I’ve seen the Christ in v.34.
So John, “…bares record that this is the Son of God.” A record in this sense; is evidence given to affirm some truth. For John that was all the evidence needed, in identifying the Son of God.
Is that all the evidence others will need (the testimony of John)? Certainly not, but he is convinced and gives forth his conviction.
Within two days, John’s testimony has been 2-fold: First, to the religious leaders that the Messiah is here. Secondly, to a crowd, this is the Messiah who will take away the sins of the world, as God’s sacrificial Lamb.
III. DAY THREE (John 1:35-37)
During this time John is still at the Jordan River baptizing people and giving to all who will hear; his testimony about Christ.
As John brings another soul up out of the water, he stood and saw Jesus “as He walked.” Jesus has started His ministry; where He also will baptize people and preach the need of repentance.
John now gives a very specific testimony to his disciples saying, “Behold the Lamb of God.” In response two of his disciples leave John to follow Jesus.
Here we see John’s willingness to hand over at least 2 of his disciples to the Lord. Now at this point they are not official disciples, only followers.
Later they will become disciples of the Lord, as it is believed they are Andrew and John.
The question we must ask is as follows: Is John guilty of saying, “Do as I say and not as I do.”? After all John does not follow and his own testimony was that this was the Christ.
And then later in Matt 11:3, in prison he will ask if Jesus is the one, or should we look for another. At the very least John develops doubts at some point.
Recognize that John had a different calling and mission. John’s mission was that he be a witness. So let’s say for a moment: John did follow the Lord looking to become His disciple.
There would always be those who would wonder who they are following; especially of John’s disciples. There can only be one head, one leader that others will look to.
John having served his purpose as a witness, he must now decrease, so the Lord may increase in popularity among the people.
What made John the Baptist so great among those born of women: is his willingness to fade off the scene.
Later some of John’s own disciples that followed him, became jealous over this increased popularity of Jesus and His disciples over John and themselves.
In John 3:27-30, John will say this is his joy as the friend of the bridegroom (a picture of himself) is not jealous over the bridegroom (a picture of Jesus).
And yet even John while in prison entertained doubts while in prison. Did these doubts reveal a heart of unbelief? No. Doubts reveal our humanity, in as much as we do not know all things from the beginning to the end as the Lord.
It’s not a sin to doubt, and yet doubts can lead to the sin of unbelief, which is a sin. What’s important in times when we entertain doubts; is that we maintain a heart that still trusts in the Lord, even if we can’t see or understand as we might wish.
Let our doubts decrease and our faith in the Lord to increase. As from such a heart, God can bless and is pleased with our witness.
More over, let’s never approach witnessing as a means of gaining a following or for any gain for ourselves. It must always be for the glory of the Lord that we serve Him.
Like John the Baptist we are to be simply a servant of the Lord; where our witness is to be of the great things God has done for us in saving our soul.