Faithlife Sermons

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Where last week, we saw how The Word Became Flesh...
God Himself entered into His creation...
How Jesus Christ HUMBLED himself - by emptying Himself - to the point of obedience...
How Underserved Favor from God came to man
And all of this - in the Word becoming flesh...
We’re going to see how John the Baptist was commissioned BY God - to prepare the way for THE WORD BECOMING FLESH...
And so for the next 2 weeks, we’ll focus in on HOW JOHN was called to prepare the way...
What he was called TO
And THEN - see how JOHN’s way (preparation) stood up against Jesus’ way.
Let’s go to our text...
SO if we just look at the story and what’s going on here...
We see that John the Baptist comes on the scene…and starts Baptizing people.
Now - this sparks the interest of a certain group of people...
When John began baptizing people, it sparked interest from - as it says - The Jews.
SO much so, that they end up sending priests and Levites from Jerusalem to inquire about who John the Baptist was.
Why were the Jews interested?
Why were the Jewish leaders interested?
Because - Ritual Water Cleansing had a place in Jewish history...
The use of water as a religious and physical cleansing instrument is prevalent throughout the Pentateuch (first 5 verses).
Those who had committed certain unclean offenses were required to immerse themselves in water in order to ritually purify the body.
Examples of such offenses include:
• Touching a corpse (Num 19:10–13; 31:23–24; Lev 11, 22:4–6)
• Eating or picking up a dead animal (Lev 17:15)
• Contagious skin infections (Lev 14:8–9)
Beyond these cleansing rituals, several other cleansing practices were required in order to partake of eating sacrificed animals (Lev 8:19–21) and temple worship (Lev 15:31).
Certain impurities could be only removed by using running water (Lev 14:5–6, 50–52; 15:13; Deut 21:4).
Do we know FOR CERTAIN when these things began, probably not…but we also see this in Leviticus...
So (he) - the LEVITE priest was commanded to perform a symbolic cleansing in water before and after performing his priestly duties
We also see in the same chapter verses 23-24
SO - seeing how the Levite Priests were to conduct themselves in the OT, the Old Covenant, it makes sense then...
That when in verse 19 of John 1, that the Levites were sent to see who John really was...
Now - this ritual cleansing was not ONLY reserved for the priests...
It ended up becoming a CUSTOM for Gentile converts to Judaism...
And so if a gentile wanted to join Judaism…he would:
1 Become circumcised
2 Get water baptized
3 He would also offer a sacrifice
And so - this water cleansing had a history in Jewish Tradition...
And as such - The priests and Levites come and ask John - WHO ARE YOU?
And John replies:
And so what I think we can infer from this is:
SLIDE: John Distinguishes Who He Is: From the Greater One Coming
John Distinguishes Who He Is
REMEMBER - 400 years of silence since a prophet last spoke to the people from God...
The OT ends - and there was - silence...
THEN - this guy comes on the scene - and starts baptizing people - calling them to repentance...
And so - The priests come and ask him - WHO ARE YOU?
John’s thought:
I must distinguish WHO I AM - with the GREATER ONE COMING...
These people - THE WORLD - MUST NOT THINK that I am - the Christ!
the Savior
the Messiah
And so trying to get to the bottom of all of this, the priests continue to dig...
And so here you have this one man John, and this other GROUP of priests, and each side here...
HAVING been sent by someone...
One the one side - you have PRIESTS who are WITHOUT knowledge…trying to figure this thing out.
They don’t know who John is, where he came from…by what authority he’s baptizing people...
And so they are WITHOUT knowledge...
On top of that - they were sent by the Pharisees, who ALSO, obviously are without KNOWLEDGE...
I find it interesting that the Pharisees didn’t initially come themselves...
Either way - The Pharisees demonstrate they too are WITHOUT knowledge...
But then you look at the other side.
John the Baptist - sent by - God!
And being SENT by God - has KNOWLEDGE...
Enough to say this… in response…to - What do you say about yourself?
So John here - takes this OT prophecy from Isaiah, and applies it to himself…!
He says - No, I’m NOT the Christ - but let me tell you WHO I ACTUALLY AM...
I’m here - to MAKE STRAIGHT the way of the LORD!
I AM the one spoken of in the book of ISAIAH!
Can you imagine that?
You waking up tomorrow, and God REVEALING to you - that you are indeed the one/voice spoken of in...
Uhh..honey, soooo I’m not going to work today...
Oh....uhhmmm, I found out that I’m supposed to head down to lake Erie and baptize people for the remission of their sins...
But this is what happened.
John - when asked who he was - responds to the priests by quoting this verse: I am the VOICE of one crying....
SO John here - does what he can to make sure he distinguishes WHO HE IS - from the Christ that is coming...
He needs the world to KNOW they are NOT THE SAME person...
And he does so - but He also makes it clear that he IS THERE - to make straight the way of the LORD...
**you ever have a situation happen where - maybe someone was supposed to DO SOMETHING for you...
But then a lot of time goes by and you just forget about it?
BUT THEN - out of nowhere - that THING you were waiting for - HAPPENS??
And you’re like - OHHH YEEEAAHHH!!
I forgot about that!!!
That’s how this would have been.
Remember - 400 years of silence...
400 years of waiting for the MESSIAH!
What would have happened?
People would have fallen into their routines...
Let’s go to the synagogue on this day...
circumcisions would have been happening...
Ritual washings would have been taking place....
All of these RITUALS....these routines....would have been taking place...
AND THEN - seemingly out of nowhere - JOHN the BAPTIST shows up…talking about the COMING of the LORD...
And LISTEN to the priests response to John when he tells them that “he is the voice of the one crying in the wilderness”
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