The Cry of the Christian
The most evident attribute of a Spirit filled Christian is their inability not to proclaim the name of Christ. Since the work of the Spirit is to bear witness to the world of Christ, His filling in our lives will produce the same result. John bears this out in his actions in John 1:15. John bear witness of him and cried, saying, this is he of whom I spake. John's cry is not a cry for help (The cry for help would be "boao" in the Greek.), it is also not a contemptuous or belittling cry (The word for a contemptuous cry would be "kraugazo" in the Greek), it is a cry of warning and/or vengeance. (John uses the word "krazo" which is often a scream of warning much like the scream of a crow.)
There is a coming judgment an impending doom that awaits this present world. The Spirit of God filling the heart of the believer causes him or her to voice the warning and, much like the cry of the raven, the call is a natural reflex. Those under the control of God's Spirit cannot stifle this cry. It comes naturally to their lips as they go about their daily activities.
The Greek word "krazo" also gives the implication of a cry that is inarticulate or brutish. To the person quietly walking though the woods the shriek of a crow disturbs and irritates but to other crows the cry is heard and welcomed. So it was with John and will be with all others who walk in faith. The majority of those who hear this cry will recoil with distaste but the children of God will accept the message with thanksgiving.
Turn to I Corinthians 1:17-24 to see why the preaching of the gospel will be rejected by many yet accepted by others.
What is this cry which irritates some and rejuvenates others? It is the exclamation that the Savior has come and His attributes are as follows:
1.) He is the eternal God. "He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me." John understands that although Christ came into the world as a man He existed before John came into existence. This is a truth the human mind outside of Christ cannot comprehend. Preincarnation is a truth that can only be accepted by faith. But it is a truth that is vitally important for the children of God to understand.
Jesus Christ was preincarnate, in fact He is eternal, there is no time in eternity that Christ was not there. The literal translation of the verse from the Greek would be - This was he of whom I said, He who after me is coming, hath come before me, for he was before me;
He is the uncreated second person of the God-head. As we saw a few weeks ago Christ is also the creator. He made us and He knows what makes us tick. As eternal God He knows each and every one of us in this room. He knows our likes and our dislikes. He knows how each of us acts toward the temptations that occur each in our lives. Yet in spite of all of this He still loves us and cares for us both physically and spiritually!
2.) Christ has made Himself known to all creation. "And of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace." Each person who has ever drawn a breath has experienced the grace of Christ in the physical realm. We have all received the breath of physical life which He has given and it is His continual life-giving presence that keeps us going from day to day. We observe His grace in the world regardless of our relationship to Him.
(Matthew 5:43-45: 43 ‘Ye heard that it was said: Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and shalt hate thine enemy; 44but I—I say to you, Love your enemies, bless those cursing you, do good to those hating you, and pray for those accusing you falsely, and persecuting you, 45that ye may be sons of your Father in the heavens, because His sun He doth cause to rise on evil and good, and He doth send rain on righteous and unrighteous.)
No one in this world can do anything to make the sun rise or set. No one on the face of this earth can cause the rain to fall let alone determine who it will fall on. Only the creator has that ability and His loving grace is such that He causes both of these occurrences to happen to both the just and the unjust. Therefore, as the children of God, we should not pick and choose who we will do good to.
This is a very important reality check for us because Matthew directly links our sonship/daughtership to the action of grace. Not a single person in this room or on this planet meets the requirement for salvation, yet Christ, in grace and love, saved us in spite of ourselves. Whenever our enemies confront us remember Christ loved us and poured out His grace on us when we were His enemies. How can we as his children do any less?
3.) He is the Author of salvation. "For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." The grace of Christ is also seen in the spiritual realm. Moses may have given the law but the law is merely a schoolmaster that points to something better and convicts the hearer. The law cannot save. Its sole purpose is to show us our need of salvation and our inability to attain it. Christ, on the other hand, provides the grace needed to forgive our sin and instills in us the truth of salvation.
Just like in the physical realm we need to remember that in our witness for Christ in the spiritual realm. Paul tells us in Colossians 1:21-22 And you, being in time past alienated and enemies in your mind in your evil works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and without blemish and unreproveable before him:
Christ did not choose to save His friends, He had none on this earth. He chose to save His enemies. We cannot do less. As His children we must present the truth of salvation to both our enemies and our friends.
4.) It is only through Christ that we can come into a right relationship with God. "No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him." We cannot get to God on our own nor can we find another mentor to lead us to Him. No one else has the ability to reveal God to us for only Christ is one with Father having no beginning and no end.
These four truths declare that something is wrong in this world and there is only one remedy, Jesus Christ. This cry has echoed through the centuries. It has been seen as the senseless ranting of mad men and women to those who are outside the household of faith, but to those who are being saved it is the power of that salvation.
In verses 19-23 we are given a glimpse of the record of John the Baptist's life when he was confronted with the question of his identity. Hardly a day goes by that we are not asked this same question, Who are you? This question gives us the opportunity to reveal our ties to ones we love most in this life. In John's case, he was surrounded by his followers so the desire to impress would have been amplified. When we are in this same situation some us will lift up ourselves and expose all of our accomplishments to the listeners (I am a doctor, I am the head of such and such a corporation, etc.). Others will give honor to their families (I am the son or daughter of so and so). John gives all honor to his Lord and Savior.
Notice his first answer is a denial to an unasked question. They did not ask him if he was the Christ but he knows they were seeking answers to the personhood of Christ so he immediately rejects his being the Messiah. Notice how he denies it. He simply says I am not the Christ. Many in today's church would have leapt at that opportunity to lift themselves up at this time. He could have just as easily said I am the cousin of Christ. That would have been the truth but it would have lifted him to a place of glory that he did not desire to be in.
The Priests and Levites then ask if he was Elias (Elijah) the prophet who was to come before Christ. God's final words to the Children of Israel in the Old Testament were given by the prophet Malachi then 400 years of silence fell on the house of Israel Malachi's final words were this found in 4:5 - 5Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and terrible day of Jehovah come. 6And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers; lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.
John again could have truthfully answered that he was the fulfillment of that prophecy for Christ tells the disciples in Matthew 17:10-13 that John the Baptist is Elijah, but he said no because he understood that the Jews were erroneously expecting Elijah to come to the earth in the flesh again and he was not Elijah in the flesh. He came in the spirit of Elijah.
A change was taking place in the Kingdom of God the temporary physical types of the Old Testament were being fulfilled in the eternal spiritual reality of the New Testament and John the Baptist being the spiritual fulfillment of God's promise to send Elijah was the first as the true Kingdom of God began its entry into the world.
He gave the same answer when asked if he was the prophet that was foretold by Moses in the book of Deuteronomy 18:15-22 Being full of the Holy Spirit he would have known that this prophecy foretold the coming of Christ Acts 3:22-26 not a forerunner of Christ as the Jewish leaders erroneously believed. In each case John the Baptist could have lifted himself up and claimed authority but he chose to simply say he was the voice of one crying in the wilderness, 'Make straight the way of the Lord'.
Christ is the Word of God we are simply the instruments (voices) through which the Word flows to the world. John the Baptist, more than any other individual who walked this earth since his time, had the right to heap accolades upon himself. He was related to the Lord, he was the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy, and he had a band of disciples who followed his teaching. Yet, the cry of his heart and voice was "Make straight the way of the Lord." In other words, it's not about me, the King is coming, prepare your hearts to receive Him. Remove all of the obstacles in your life that would prevent him from coming to you.
We too are dwelling in a wilderness. A wilderness where truth and love have been distorted and self is the god to be worshiped. As believers in Christ, we are the voices He has enabled to bring His message to the world that His children may hear and believe. Do not use that voice to being glory to yourself. Use it as it was intended, to bring glory to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. A moment by moment record is being kept of our lives. When it is displayed will it reveal someone who is trying to be a god or someone who is a faithful servant of God?
The conclusion of today's message is found in Isaiah 40:3-8-
3The voice of one that crieth, Prepare ye in the wilderness the way of Jehovah; make level in the desert a highway for our God. 4Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low; and the uneven shall be made level, and the rough places a plain: 5and the glory of Jehovah shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together; for the mouth of Jehovah hath spoken it. 6The voice of one saying, Cry. And one said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field. 7The grass withereth, the flower fadeth, because the breath of Jehovah bloweth upon it; surely the people is grass. 8The grass withereth, the flower fadeth; but the word of our God shall stand forever.
We will soon be sitting down to a thanksgiving feast. The food will be delicious and fellowship sweet but both will in time fade away. Only Christ, the Word of God, and our relationship will Him will continue on for eternity so the question must be asked, Do you have a relationship with Christ today? John the Baptist's cry has echoed through 2000 years. Christ has come. In His love has made the Father known to us and in His mercy made a way for us to enter into fellowship with God. It is a message of hope and at the same time a message of warning for if we do not accept Christ and His message we face eternity as subjects of God's wrath and not His love. You have heard the message of John so you will have no excuse before God if you reject it. Accept Christ as Savior and Lord today and the cry in the wilderness will cease to become something that you want to quiet and will become a cry that you welcome.