Faithlife Sermons

Sermon Tone Analysis

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22-25
After the conversation with Nicodemus and after the Passover Jesus and His disciples head a little way out of Jerusalem, perhaps towards Jericho which is about 17 miles away to the North East.
Note that Jesus spent time with them.
He became exclusively theirs.
I have said before that I think one of the great themes of the Bible is that God wants to be with His people.
And Jesus being both Son of Man and Son of God wanted to spend time with His people.
Seeing that this is what God wants to do should we not also make time to spend with Him.
It is there that we will find the strength that we need each day and, frankly, who can put a value on time spent with God?
In Acts when the disciples were brought before the Sanhedrin for the healing of a man hear what they thought of them:
It has been something that has come up time and again in the last few weeks that our source of power for this life is found in Christ, His Spirit in us and in the cultured life of prayer, frequently in the presence of God.
We can do nothing without Him.
were baptising or rather, we are told elsewhere, that He did not but His disciples.
At the same time about 40 miles north John the Baptist was baptising.
And they came, the ‘they’ being the people, were coming to be baptised.
And we can already see the fate that will befall John, that he will be thrown into prison.
Then we see that they were baptising or rather, as we are told in chapter 4 next week, that He did not but His disciples.
At the same time about 30 miles further north John the Baptist was baptising.
And the people were continually coming to be baptised.
This was still at a time when John had not been put in prison for his outspoken words against Herod.
We get this curious one-liner here in verse 25 of a conflict between the Jews and the followers of John.
So, we are in the picture:
Baptism was about repentance and purification was for the daily getting right and ceremonial cleansing required by the law - some people were confusing and conflating the two for some were probably getting baptised more than once.
As with any new work of God arguments arise but it is out of these that a biblical and theological understanding comes.
26
Now there were some who seemed to be concerned about the reputation of John were saying: Look! Someone else is baptising, in fact, it is the one that you said was the lamb of God, and now they are all leaving you, deserting you and going to Him instead!
It reminds me of a story told by a friend of Winston Churchill:
Look! Someone else is baptising, in fact, it is the one that you said was the lamb of God, and now they are all leaving you, deserting you and going to Him instead!
It was Sir Winston Churchill’s standing order that when he returned by train from a trip that his dog Rufus should be brought to the station to meet him.
Rufus would be let off his leash to dash to his master and be the first to greet him.
One day I happened to be standing close by.
Rufus ignored his master and came leaping all over me instead.
Of course Sir Winston loved Rufus too much to blame him.
Instead, he turned to me with a hurt look and said quietly, “In the future, Norman, I would prefer you to stay in the train until I’ve said hello.”
They have got caught up in the competition and comparison.
It is hard not to especially if your favourite preacher is the one being eclipsed by an upstart.
Even here it is impossible to avoid the comparisons being made between myself and my predecessors and no doubt the next one will be compared to me and the others though I think that no one is now comparing me to Austin or Alwyn who both pre-war ministers here!
The followers of John had got caught up in the competition and comparison.
It is hard not to especially if your favourite preacher is the one being eclipsed by an upstart.
Even here it is impossible to avoid the comparisons being made between myself and my predecessors and no doubt the next one will be compared to me and the others though I think that no one is now comparing me to Austin or Alwyn who both pre-war ministers here!
John’s followers ask: Don’t you mind?
It is interesting how professional jealousy arises.
We’ve seen a lot of it the last couple of weeks after the declaration of the wages that certain people are being paid at the BBC.
How dare he earn more than me!
But I expect that the 40 women complaining about their wages are underestimating the jealousy at the lower rungs of the ladder in the organisation of both men and women earning close to the minimum wage and certainly nowhere near as much as they.
Of course, I cannot judge how much anyone should be paid for their jobs especially in this industry but how easy people get riled when they see others doing better than themselves or if they are passed over for promotion.
It is easy to think that all these things are unfair.
There are so many unfair things, we think.
But John did not see it in these terms.
He said, that’s OK - so what!
He cannot have anything unless God had given it to him.
Interesting viewpoint!
Anything?
Nothing we have was not given to us by God Himself in the first place.
This comes down to even if we are wealthy or in poverty:
So much for equality.
Remember the parable of the labourers found in : someone agreed to be paid a certain amount for about 12 hours work.
But then he paid someone who worked for one hour exactly the same!
How unfair!
Let’s get onto the unions!
Let’s write a letter - they are getting paid 12 times as much!
No, John is clear.
Abilities, success, failure, richness, poorness are either denied by God or given by God.
It is up to the Lord.
It is God who lifts up or brings low.
This should not stop us defending the poor, which is also biblical, but this is a sermon for another time.
This one is about what God gives.
I have seen spiritual jealousy too.
“That person is really good with kids” and they do not say that with admiration but cursing inwardly.
It’s like wanting the car that someone else has.
There is a spiritual coveting of what other people have.
Some people, it seems, have all the gifts, and some might have a measly one.
We see what others have and want it for ourselves instead of being grateful for what we have and using that to the best of our ability.
I never understood why people would be jealous of other Christians’ spiritual abilities except to have them as examples to learn from - but certainly not to have what they have and be better than them.
There is a fable that Satan’s agents were failing in their various attempts to draw into sin a holy man who lived as a hermit in the desert of northern Africa.
Every attempt had met with failure; so Satan, angered with the incompetence of his subordinates, became personally involved in the case.
He said, “The reason you have failed is that your methods are too crude for one such as this.
Watch this.”
He then approached the holy man with great care and whispered softly in his ear, “Your brother has just been made Bishop of Alexandria.”
Instantly the holy man’s face showed that Satan had been successful: a great scowl formed over his mouth and his eyes tightened up.
“Envy,” said Satan, “is often our best weapon against those who seek holiness.”
When I watch some preachers I go ‘wow’ but I am not them.
Maybe I can learn something from them.
Remember it is God who gave what they and we have.
The stories in the Bible of such professional jealousy abound especially about Moses.
When I watch some preachers I go ‘wow’ but I am not them.
Maybe I can learn something from them.
Remember it is God who gave what they and we have.
The stories in the Bible of such professional jealousy abound especially about Moses.
Moses was the meekest, the humblest, man who ever lived according to .
Leadership challenges are not new, it did not start with Labour or the Conservatives.
Whenever there was a challenge to his leadership Moses would throw himself down before the Lord.
Why?
Because it was God who had appointed him and who could justify his position.
And God did; for the challengers either got diseased or died at the hand of God.
John had the same spirit as Moses, let God be the judge.
He was glad that someone else was taking the limelight, his time had come and gone.
He did not make a grab for it but released it saying that it was God’s will.
27-30 Bridegroom
Look, he said, did I not make clear from the beginning that I am not the Christ, the prophet nor the chosen one.
I am a friend, the best-man, however but who is the friend or best man at a wedding…nearly anonymous.
It was the friend who brought the bride to the bridegroom but after that the eyes are not on the friend, all eyes are, instead and rightly, on the bride and bridegroom.
He helped prepare for the wedding but now, the one who it is all about was there.
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