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Be A Voice

The Gospel of John  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  44:06
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John the Baptist gives a great example for us of how to be a voice that points to Christ.

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Have you ever heard of something called “Main Character Syndrome”?
It is a term that has come into use recently to describe a tendency that most of us have: to think of ourselves as the main character in the story of our lives.
Like other problems, we usually notice it in other people before we notice it in ourselves.
When you hear them talk about their day, it sounds like the entire world has conspired against them to make them miserable. Every bad driver is aiming directly for them, everything that breaks was an intentional act of God to throw off their day, and everyone is trying to ruin their lives.
Author David Foster Wallace put it this way in a speech:
“Everything in my own immediate experience supports my deep belief that I am the absolute centre of the universe; the realest, most vivid and important person in existence.... Think about it: there is no experience you have had that you are not the absolute centre of. The world as you experience it is there in front of YOU or behind YOU, to the left or right of YOU, on YOUR TV or YOUR monitor. And so on. Other people’s thoughts and feelings have to be communicated to you somehow, but your own are so immediate, urgent, real.”
(David Foster Wallace, “This Is Water”) [1]
Our default mode as we look at life to put ourselves as the center of the story of the world.
Even our attempts to do things for others often come back to making ourselves feel better or look better to other people.
I found myself doing this the other day. A friend called me on the day after his 40th birthday. He wanted to tell me about his birthday and about what God was doing in his church, and before I realized it, I had turned the conversation to myself, putting me in the middle of that conversation.
It may be more subtle for those who are introverted, but this is still pretty common for us all.
What would it look like if we didn’t do that?
What if we recognized the role we play in the world, and we did it so well, that we devoted our lives to using our voice to point people to the most important person for them to know?
That’s what we find this morning as we return to John 1 to talk about the life and ministry of John the Baptist.
We were introduced to him some last week briefly, but this morning, we are going to see that John was a man who knew his role and used his voice to exalt Jesus.
Remember that this isn’t the same John who wrote the book we are reading.
Instead, John the Baptist, or John the Baptizer, was actually Jesus’ cousin. He was about the same age as Jesus, although he didn’t fully understand who Jesus was.
However, as we will see, John lived to make much of Christ and less of himself.
My challenge to us today, then, is that we would be like John and do the same.
To see what that looks like and draw out some helpful ideas on how to live this way, let’s look at how John the Baptist is described.
Instead of reading the whole passage up front, we are going to go through it a bit at a time.
As we do, the first observation we make is that we must...

1) Recognize your role.

Shakespeare said, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.”
However, that doesn’t mean that every person has the lead role.
In fact, in following Christ, we find that he is the lead, and we are all supporting cast.
John understood the role he was called to play.
From the very first words we hear about John, we see a very clear picture of what God had called John to be and do. Look back at verses 6-8.
He was sent from God to testify about the light.
Remember that last week we said that Jesus brought spiritual enlightenment into the world, showing us what was true about God and about people.
John came to tell people about the light that was coming, but he himself wasn’t that light; Jesus is.
This is a great place for us to start in understanding our role in life: You aren’t the light.
Although you are unique and are created in the image of God, you are not the center of the world, nor are you its savior.
Life isn’t about you, and it isn’t about me.
The aim of life is to know Jesus and make him known to anyone and everyone.
We do that through out attitudes towards him and others, by treating people like Jesus did, by speaking truth like Jesus did, and by glorifying God in everything we say and do.
That focus on Christ was John’s attitude throughout his entire life.
If you fast forward to John 3, you see him explain it even more from his perspective.
He had been preaching and baptizing and his ministry was growing. When Jesus shows up and begins teaching, people started going to him instead of coming to John.
John’s disciples are bothered by this, so they point it out to John.
Look at his response:
John 3:27–30 CSB
John responded, “No one can receive anything unless it has been given to him from heaven. You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah, but I’ve been sent ahead of him.’ He who has the bride is the groom. But the groom’s friend, who stands by and listens for him, rejoices greatly at the groom’s voice. So this joy of mine is complete. He must increase, but I must decrease.”
John was aware that he was not the Messiah, and he knew his role.
He was the best man; he wasn’t the groom.
He didn’t begrudge Jesus’s success; in fact, it gave him great joy to see Jesus exalted!
Think about your own life right now.
I hear people talking about how much they think about leaving a legacy, wondering how they will be remembered.
Let me ask you: how would you feel if the entire world forgot your name?
What if you left no lasting contribution in your field or your family or your community?
What if there isn’t ever a single building named after you or even anything more than a simple flat headstone that marks where your body is?
For most people, that is depressing and hopeless, isn’t it?
What if, however, all of those things are true, and no one remembers you, but there are people who are closer to Jesus because of the way you lived?
What if you live out a God-honoring life on your hall or in your class, and someone says, “You know, I can’t remember her name or his name, but there was this person I knew freshman year who was so crazy about Jesus that I couldn’t help but find out what it was all about.”
What if the cashier or the waitress or the nurse at the doctor’s office doesn’t remember you, but they remember that they heard about how incredible Jesus is?
What if that is your legacy—you were the unnamed person who pointed to Christ?
Is that enough for you?
Although John’s name is remembered, it would have been enough for him simply to point others to Jesus.
How do I know that? Because of what else we find him saying in John 1:19-27...
He said he wasn’t the Messiah, he isn’t Elijah, who some prophecies alluded to, and that he wasn’t the prophet they were expecting to come before the Messiah.
Although Jesus would later use some of those titles to describe him, he said he wasn’t those things because he wasn’t who they thought that person was supposed to be.
No, what did John realize was his role? (verse 23)
He was a voice, crying out in the wilderness, calling people to get right with God.
He fulfilled a unique role in all of human history as the voice that cried out, preparing people to follow Jesus when he began his ministry.
You and I do not have the same prophetic call and voice that John did, but what did we say two weeks ago that we are called to do?
Matthew 28:19–20 CSB
Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
You are called to be a voice!
You are not the hero of the story. You are not the groom. You are not the most special person in the entire world.
Settle that this morning. Stop thinking you are the main character of your story!
You know what is so counterintuitive in this?
When you recognize that you aren’t the center of the universe, it takes so much pressure off of you!
You don’t have to fix every problem, heal every hurt, and take everything personally.
Instead, you just get to be the voice who points people to the one who is actually able to help them!
In fact, let’s flesh that out some more and get some insight into how to...

2) Use your voice.

Again, our calling and experience isn’t an exact match for what John saw and did.
However, I think we can draw out at least three different ways to use the voice God has given us as we look at this last section.
After establishing that he wasn’t the guy that the world revolved around, John starts pointing people to Christ in a real way.
Pick up in verses 29-34...
If you and I are going to use our voice and fulfill our God-given role, we must...

A. Talk about who Jesus is.

We could spend an entire message just unpacking the statement John makes in verse 29.
However, for now, realize that this is John clearly identifying that Jesus is the one everyone has been looking for.
We talked at length last week about who Jesus is, didn’t we? He is the Word, the source of life and light who came into the world, who revealed grace and truth to us and allowed us to see God like no one had ever understood him before.
Now, John adds in this idea that Jesus is the Lamb of God.
This is a beautiful picture of the Passover feast that Israel was to commemorate annually.
In case you aren’t familiar with it, this feast goes all the way back to when the Israelites were slaves in Egypt.
God sent a series of plagues to demonstrate that he was more powerful than all the gods of Egypt, but Pharaoh still refused to let the people go.
On the night of the final plague, God was sending an angel through Egypt. That angel was going to kill the firstborn son in every home in Egypt, except for those who did exactly what they were told to do.
A main part of the instructions God gave was that they slaughter a spotless lamb and put its blood on the doorposts of their house.
That lamb’s blood was they symbol that caused the angel to pass over their house and spare them.
That’s the picture that John is giving when he describes Jesus as the Lamb of God…he is the one who was going to be the sacrifice whose blood covers my sin and yours.
He is the one who died for you and for me and protects me from staying spiritually dead and separated from God forever.
That, then is a part of how we use our voice: we tell people about who Jesus is.
We won’t go much deeper into that because we talked about it last week, and it also ties closely into the second way we see John use his voice:

B. Talk about what Jesus has done.

He isn’t just the Lamb of God, he is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!
This is another picture from the Old Testament; in fact, it is one that Jews celebrated this week.
This goes back to the ceremonies on the Day of Atonement, which is also known as Yom Kippur.
As a part of that celebration, the high priest would lay his hands on the head of a goat. Then, he would confess his own sins and the sins of the nation of Israel, symbolically putting those sins onto the head of that goat.
The goat would then be led into the wilderness as a reminder that God has taken away the sins of the people.
John points to Jesus and says, “This is the guy who is actually taking people’s sins away!”
He isn’t like the high priest who has to confess his own sins, and he isn’t like the goats that had to be offered year after year.
No, Jesus is the final sacrifice for sins. Our sins were laid on him when he died on the cross, and he took them away forever!
As a voice who points to Christ, part of the privilege you have is declaring to the world around you what Jesus has done.
He died for the sins of the world, and, like we saw last week, he did that so we could be invited into his family!
This message is challenging because it confronts people in their sin, but it is also so incredibly freeing because it is the only way to find true hope, joy, purpose, and for people to be able to live a life that honors the King of the universe!
When is the last time you used your position, your stage of life, your classes, your dinner table, wherever you are, to tell someone what Jesus has done?
Instead, is your conversation all about how hard you have it, or maybe even about how good you are at what you do?
Remember your role, because you are a voice, pointing to the light and life.
One last aspect of using our voice is this:

C. Talk about what you have seen.

Look back at verses 32-34...
John testified about what he had seen, didn’t he?
It’s pretty interesting to see, because what he said ties back to the Apostle John said the book was all about, doesn’t it?
John 20:31 CSB
But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
John the Baptist says, “I saw Jesus confirmed as the Messiah, and I am telling you that he is the Son of God.”
As a voice, part of your role is telling what you have seen.
Again, we aren’t John, and we aren’t likely to see the Spirit of God descend from heaven like a dove.
However, if you have been walking with Jesus for any length of time, there should be stories you can tell of how you have seen Jesus.
Maybe you could tell of prayers you have prayed and seen him answer in unexpected ways, both big and small.
Perhaps you could tell about lives you have seen changed or peace that you have known that doesn’t even make sense or joy that goes deeper than you can ever imagine.
You may be wondering what to look for when you look for Jesus at work.
I like using this statement from Henry Blackaby as a guide:
"God speaks by the Holy Spirit through the Bible, prayer, circumstances, and the church to reveal Himself, His purposes, and His ways" (Henry Blackaby, Experiencing God)
Are there times when God has used Scripture to convict you, to teach you, to comfort you? How have you seen him work in the prayers you have prayed? How have you learned more about him through what you have experienced, and how has he used the other people who make up the church to help you see him at work?
When’s the last time you shared with someone what you have seen?
You aren’t the center of your own life; you aren’t the main character.
Allow your fame, your importance, and your notoriety to fall to the side so you can be like John the Baptist…a voice crying out in the wilderness, pointing people to Christ.
Endnotes:
[1] David Foster Wallace, “This Is Water”, https://fs.blog/2012/04/david-foster-wallace-this-is-water. Accessed 18 September 2021.
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