Description / Transcription
More love to thee, oh, Christ, more love to thee. Hear thou the prayer we make on bended knee. This is our earnest plea, more love, oh, Christ, to thee. More love to thee, more love to thee. We ask that in the preaching, reading, and hearing of your word that Christ would be exalted and we would love him more. In his name we pray. Amen.
I’ll be reading this morning from the Gospel according to John, chapter 1, verses 19 through 28. John, chapter 1, beginning at verse 19.
“And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you? ” He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ. ” And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah? ” He said, “I am not. ” “Are you the Prophet? ” And he answered, “No. ” So they said to him, “Who are you? We need to give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” He said, “I am the voice, a voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.”
(Now they had been sent from the Pharisees.) They asked him, “Then why are you baptizing, if you are neither the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” John answered them, “I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know, even he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.” These things took place in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing.”
If you’ve ever been to any kind of conference, then you have witnessed introductions. Some are extravagant and they take many minutes to go through, the man or woman’s great accomplishments and credentials. Some are quite plain and just a sentence of description of family or degrees. Some are funny, if there is a real relationship and they go into a great story. Some are strictly professional, just what you could have googled five seconds earlier. Some are personal, here’s a great story, what this person has meant to me. Over many years I have been to all sorts of conferences and seen every type of introduction and I have been introduced in all sorts of ways. People sometimes me as Dr. DeYoung, though I don’t have a doctorate; I just take the honorary degrees. Sometimes it was, you know, mispronounced the name of the church. And when I was in England it was always he was from Mitch-igan instead of Michigan. Carolina should be easier to pronounce.
I’ve seen all sorts of introductions. Sometimes people don’t get things right. I remember one time a well-known pastor came up to me and he said, “Kevin, I want to thank you for your book Young, Restless, and Reformed, ” and I said, “Thank you. Actually, I didn’t write that book, it was a friend of mine, Collin Hanson. It was an article in Christianity Today and then it became a book, ” and he said, “no, I’m pretty sure you wrote the book.” And I said, “I’m really sure. I know you’re confused because I named my blog DeYoung, Restless, and Reformed (ha ha ha), and you know, so it’s a takeoff of that, you know, it’s easy to make that mistake. I didn’t write the book.” Well, he would not take no for an answer. He said, “I’m positive you wrote the book.” I said, “I’m positive I know which books I wrote, and I did not write that one.” Well, sometimes people want to introduce you and give you credit for things you didn’t even do.
You’ve seen introductions. But I bet we have never seen two introductions like we find at the beginning of John’s gospel. We’ve been looking for several weeks at the introduction to Jesus and no one in human history has received an introduction like this, “The Word made flesh. The One who is with God and is God. The One through whom all things were made. The One who is light and life. That One came and dwelt among us.” There’s the introduction for Jesus.
And now we have John. By contrast, no one of such significance has ever introduced himself quite like John does in these verses. If you are looking for a good outline for this morning’s sermon, try again next week. Okay? I have no, no points but hopefully it is not a pointless sermon. There is no alliteration. What I want to do is simply walk through this text and I think along the way we will find plenty of points of application as John introduces himself and in so doing, points us to the One who has already been introduced.
So this story starts with a simple question and a surprising answer. You see, in verse 19 there is an official designation come from Jerusalem, priests, Levites, at this time in Israel’s history the Levites were chiefly temple guards and musicians. And then we see down in verse 24 that some of the delegation came from the Pharisees. They came from Jerusalem, we can speculate that they came from the Sanhedrin, which was the ruling body, sort of the Congress and the Supreme Court and the President all rolled up in into one for Judaism, then maybe the Sanhedrin said, “okay, we want an answer.” And so they sent some of these priests, Levites, Pharisees, and they asked John a simple question.
Now, obviously, the author here, and just to remind you that John, who is writing the gospel, is now different than this John. This is John the Baptist that we are being introduced to. John, who wrote the Gospel, is the beloved disciple. He doesn’t mention himself by name, so when you come across “John” here, it’s John the Baptist. But John, the apostle who wrote the book, is sort of dropping us in to the middle of the story. He’s assuming that his audience would have some knowledge of John the Baptist, and so he doesn’t say, we just assume everybody’s heard of this person and his ministry; he has a following, he’s baptizing, he’s controversial. And so the men come to him and they ask in verse 19: “Who are you?”
And verse 19 sets us up for an official response from John the Baptist. It says this is the testimony, this is the witness about himself. You picture John the Baptist there on trial, as it were. And he has to raise his right hand and he has to swear to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth. And he’s going to introduce himself. Here’s his official testimony about himself. And if we were whispering in his hear, someone would say, “John, here’s your chance to build your brand, to expand your platform, to get some good PR.”
Now whether the question in verse 19 was meant to be friendly, probably not, or meant to be probing, it really is kind of a softball. Someone asks you, “Who are you?” You have a lot of different ways that you can go. You can talk about your family, you can talk about your career, you can talk about some credentials, talk about your hobbies… There’s a lot of things you can do; it’s not a hard question. “Who are you?” They sort of lobbed it up for John. “Tell us, we’re here from Jerusalem, on an official fact-finding mission. We have one thing to report to our superiors, and that is who are you?” Who is this strange man with strange clothes, strange eating habits, and a big following? What’s he all about? What are his credentials?
And John’s introduction of himself is as refreshing as it is surprising. You see verse 20? It’s emphatic. “He confessed, and he did not deny, but confessed, ‘I am not the Christ.'” It’s emphatic. He gave his answer without reservation, without hesitation. He did not hedge, he did not qualify, he did not beat around the bush. He proclaimed it with absolute clarity. “All right, listen up, y’all. I know you want to know who I am. Read my lips. I’m not the Christ.”
When you think about it, what a remarkable and humble thing to say. Here come all these people, eager to make a fuss about you. He’s a popular guy. Matthew 3:5 says “Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to” John. And all these people have these expectations. They’re waiting for someone. They know in their scriptures they’re waiting for maybe a prophet, or maybe Elijah. Maybe, maybe, they’re whispering among themselves, maybe this is even the Messiah, the deliverer, the Christ. Christ is just Greek for messiah, the two words mean anointed one. It’s not Jesus’ last name, Joseph and Mary Christ. No, it’s a designation, it’s a title. Jesus, the Messiah. So, might this be?
Now, we understand that John isn’t going to lie. He’s not the Christ. But to come out so boldly, your very first statement, your first introduction. How different from the way we like to posture and position ourselves. I would be tempted to say, “well, technically, technically I’m not the Christ, but I am close to him, we are cousins. I do know him. I could, I mean, I do have a straight line, I’m practically like, you know, Messiah, Jr.” But he shoots it straight. And he underlines his point three times: “I know what you’re thinking, and I just want to say, I’m confessing it, I’m not denying it, I’m confessing it.” He says it three times: “I’m not the Christ.”
What a humble thing to say. And, I imagine, what a freeing thing to say. We would do well to camp out here for a few minutes, metaphorical camping. I don’t do physical camping, okay?
Let me tell you a story that I shared with the elders when I was candidating here in the spring. I met with them and just shared a few verses that were formative to my sense of ministry and identity and this passage was one of the three or four verses that I shared. One of the best sermons I ever heard was preached on this text, verse 20 in particular. It was given, the graduating chapel service in seminary. So this was for all the graduating seniors, me and all my friends are there, it’s our last chapel. They brought in Gordon Hugenberger who is an adjunct professor and was the pastor at historic Park Street Church in Boston. And he preached on John 1, verse 20, and then John 3:30, “He must increase, I must decrease,” and put those two together. And it was one of those messages that has always stuck with me and immediately, all of my friends, we were, we just said we have to, we need to listen to this message again. And so we all got tapes of it. Some of you… They’re little rectangles and they have like little thing and they always would come undone and you stick a pencil in there and you wind it up, so it was a tape. It was really amazing. Go to a museum; you can see them someday. So we all had tapes and I listened to this thing over and over again until finally the thing wore out.
And throughout the sermon he would say, a kind of call and response, “Congregation, what do you believe?” And they would respond: “I am not the Christ. He must increase, I must decrease.” It would go over and over: “Congregation, what do you believe?” “I am not the Christ. He must increase, I must decrease.” It was such a powerful message, especially for all of us who were ready to go out and be pastors. And he tailored it to pastors, the expectations pastors face sometimes to be the Christ, the temptation some pastors feel in our hearts that we kind of want to be the Christ. And I remember how he started the sermon. He started with this dramatic introduction. He said “I want to introduce to you a confession that is more important in your life than the Westminster Confession. I want to tell you a confession that you need in ministry and it’s more important than the Belgian Confession. And some of you here like the Augsburg Confession, or the Second Helvetic,” he just was rattling off confessions. “He said I have a confession, as great as those are, this one is even more foundational, more important for you in ministry than all of those. Here’s the confession: It’s the confession of John the Baptist. And it’s very short; you can memorize it. One line: I am not the Christ.”
And it was actually quite a funny sermon as he instructed all of us seminary seniors. He said “When you get into the church, I want you sometimes to practice the ministry of absence. I want you to not show up to things. I want you to just not show up to some meetings just so people know that you’re not that important. I want you to disappear for a while.” Okay, so I haven’t taken it all to heart, but he just was saying, “Listen, you’re going to get into a church and you’re going to face this temptation in your own heart to think that you’re the main attraction, and you’re not.” And it was just the word that all of us needed to hear, both because of our own fallen human hearts and because of the proclivity in some churches to think that the pastor is going to be some kind of messiah.
Many of you have been very kind, lots of you have been very kind, to ask in these first few months, “How are you doing? How are you getting settled in? How are the kids? How’s the transition?” And I think we’re doing fine, feel good. Don’t know if we look good, but my wife does, and I can put a suit on. So I’m very much enjoying the work, happy to be here with you, so let me make this point now, when it’s happy days rather than having to make it at some point when we’re all slugging through the trenches and it’s too late. I’ll let you in on a little secret: I’m not the Christ. I am not omnicompetent, I am not omnipresent. I am not omniscient. Neither are any of your other pastors. We want to work hard, we want to do our best, we want to follow the Lord, we want to teach, we want to pray. We cannot meet with everyone who may want to meet with us. You will find that there are all sorts of areas that I don’t excel in, and some even that you think, “Oh, I really wish my pastor were better at that.” I will work hard, but I will not be the Holy Spirit in your life, you can thank the Lord for that. And I am not Jesus. And you need to know that about your pastor lest you think this person ought to be everywhere at all time and know all things and be good at everything. You know what? You do need a savior in your life, and he’s in heaven, and his spirit can be with you here on earth. I am not the Christ.
This is good news for all of us. Okay? Because this isn’t just a pastor thing, it’s not just a sermon about pastoral ministry and you know, you’re all going to leave and say “that was the sermon that he was really waiting to give, he wanted to give on week one but he waited and he was smart and gave it in, you know, the second month to just tell everyone ‘get off my case.'” Okay, no, that’s now what I’m saying. But it is freeing. And you need to hear it, because I know there’s a lot of type-A, driven, very motivated people here. And you don’t have to be a pastor to develop a messiah complex. And you want to go and right all the wrongs in the world, and you want to live a flawless Christian life, and you want to be all things to all people at all times, and you need to add John’s words to your confession.
You know when we get to Christmas, one of the special things about Christmas is when you celebrate the birth of that little baby in the manger and we just, we’re singing songs about that, when you celebrate that little baby, you can finally let out a big “Amen, Hallelujah” and confess “Jesus is the Christ, so I don’t have to be. The Messiah came and he’s coming again, so I don’t have to fill those shoes.” Listen, you can not do it all. You can’t.
Mom and dad, you can pray for your kids, you can discipline your kids, you can read the Bible to the kids, you cannot save your kids. You cannot make all the right decisions for your kids, and you’ll need to remind me of that probably in the years ahead. “Pastor, now remember you told us and now I’m telling you.” Probably.
We better get this confession of faith right. The universe does not hold together by the word of your power. It doesn’t. Or mine.
You know one of the reasons why God makes us to sleep? To remind us that he can really handle everything without us. Why would he have to do that? He doesn’t have to. Why would he make us to sleep? He could have just made us that we just go. Why? “It seems so inefficient, God, why you’d create us that a third of our lives are supposed to be sleeping. You didn’t have to do that.” You see, it’s a daily reminder every time when you wake up in the morning, you just kind of imagine God just whispering over your shoulder, “Hey, hey, sleepyhead. I was fine. Really. Still here. Take a nap.” You and I are not the Messiah.
People of God, what do we believe? I am not the Christ. He must increase, I must decrease. That’s what we believe.
And that’s just the first thing John says about himself. Because he goes on and he wants to deny some other things. He says I’m going to tell you some other famous people that I’m not. They say, “Well, are you Elijah?” This needs a little bit of explaining. Malachi 4:5 promised that the prophet Elijah would come before the great and dreadful day of the Lord, so the people were expecting the coming of Elijah to proceed the coming of the Messiah, that’s why “Hey, if you’re not the Messiah, might you be the forerunner to the Messiah?” It’s a little confusing because Jesus elsewhere makes clear yes, he is Elijah, and John now says he’s not. So who was right, John or Jesus? Well, both of them, of course. John was Elijah, but not as they thought. The Jews were expecting the physical body, person of Elijah to return. The Greek translation of the Hebrew mistranslated Malachi 4:5 so that the text promised that Elijah the Tishbite would come, and that encouraged them that they would get the actual, physical Elijah back from heaven, because remember, he didn’t die, he went up with chariots in a whirlwind of fire, and he can come back to earth.
Well, that’s not the sort of Elijah that had come. Luke 1:17 makes the point well. It says of John “and he will go on before the Lord in the spirit and power of Elijah.” So Jesus, of course, was correct, he was Elijah. But John was right to say “I’m not the Elijah you’re thinking. When you ask the question, I can say I’m not him. I’m coming in his spirit and his power, but I’m not the Tishbite you’re looking for.”
But he’s not finished. He has more people he wants to deny. They ask him, “Then are you the Prophet?” And notice in the ESV in verse 21 it capitalizes “the Prophet” and they’re right to do so. The priests and the Levites are making a reference to a specific Old Testament prediction, that a prophet like Moses would come. Deuteronomy 18:18, “I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him.” They were expecting this prophet to come. Incidentally, in the Koran in the seventh sura, there is a verse there which Muslim scholars say is a reference to Mohammed here in chapter 21, so the Koran says that verse John 1:21 is a reference to the prophet Mohammed who was to come, and see here even in the gospels they were expecting one to come and he’s come in the person of Mohammed. However, Acts 3:22 makes clear that the Prophet, capital P, was Jesus Christ himself. He was the One who came in the spirit of Moses as a new prophet, a new teacher, a new law giver. Certainly not Mohammed, who wouldn’t have been in anyone’s thinking.
But here the Jews think maybe it’s John the Baptist, and he says no. Now, notice this is almost comical. Verses 20 and 21. You ever have it when your kids are just, well, pestering you a bit. None of you have ever had that experience, you know, but just talk, some parents do. Okay? And you know, they just keep asking you and you know the first time, “Can we go out for ice cream? Why not?” And it’s sort “well, because, you know, it costs money” or “we just had, you know, dinner” or “we’re going to do it another time,” and you give an explanation and then the second time it’s “Can we go for ice cream?” And it’s “No.” “Why not?” And you give another, “well, the car doesn’t have gas,” and then by the third time you just say “be quiet, I’m your parent, okay.” “Why?” And you give that famous line: “Because I said so.” Kids, kids, when you get that, don’t ask again. Don’t ask again. Yeah, we’re out reasons, but we’re out of patience, too, okay? Because I said so. The answers are getting shorter, shorter, shorter.
You see what John the Baptist is doing? First they say “Who are you?” He confesses, did not deny, he confesses “I am not the Christ.” And then they said “Are you Elijah?” “I am not.” “Are you a prophet?” “No. Okay? No.” They’re just progressive abruptness is what one commentator calls it. “I’m not the Christ. I told you that already. No!” The Greek word is “oxi”, ooh, no, I’m not. So in this fabulous introduction all we know about John, his official testimony, is he is a big nobody. He’s made it clear. “Okay, you want to know who I am? I have three points. Number one: I’m not the Christ. Number two: I’m not Elijah. Number three: I’m not the Prophet. That’s all I have to say about myself.”
So finally they ask him again. “Look, we have to say something,” verse 22, “the people who sent us, I can’t go back and say well, I have a long list of things that he’s not. We need to say something that you are.” So finally he quotes Isaiah 40 and he says in verse 23, “okay, if you must know, if you want me to say something positive about myself. You want to know who I am? I’m the voice. I’m a voice. A voice to bear witness to the Word.” That’s all he has to say. One verse from Isaiah. No resume, no curriculum vitae, no dustjacket, no titles. He says “first and foremost you need to know what I am not, but if you must know who I am, all I can say is that I’m a voice. I’m a voice crying in the wilderness.”
He doesn’t even call himself a face, just a voice. I always tell people that I have a face for radio, so John the Baptist is doing something similar. Who I am is of no consequence. I’m simply a mouthpiece, crying in the wilderness. And the wilderness here, or the desert, it could be translated, is more of a theological term than a strictly geographic one. The Israelites wandered in the wilderness, the prophets cried in the wilderness, Jesus was tempted in the wilderness or in the desert. So when it says John was a voice crying in the wilderness, it does not mean he’s lost in the woods somewhere, it means he’s a prophetic voice, crying out in desolate times, just like when Isaiah was looking forward to the return from exile, or when he was anticipating the coming of the suffering servant.
“Make straight the pathway for our God.” His ministry is one of preparation. His message was a get ready message.
Remember in the other gospels the John the Baptist comes on the scene. We don’t hear as much about his ministry in John’s gospel, but in the others, he comes and he preaches to the crowd, and you remember how he starts his message? He doesn’t give a nice introduction, or a clever story, or meet a felt need. He says what that wonderful introduction, “Your brood of vipers. Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?” And then he says, “Produce fruit keeping with repentance. And don’t tell me Abraham is your father. God can raise up from these stones children for Abraham. The axe is already at the tree.” That was John’s message. It was a “get ready, buckle up” kind of message, repent for the Messiah is coming.
It’s a stunning bit of theological beauty and symmetry. We have had in the prologue for 18 verses this mind-blowing description of the Word, God’s gracious self-disclosure in the person of his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Word, and so of course John would say “Who am I? Just a voice. Just a voice to speak of that Word.” He wasn’t the groom, he was the best man. Sometimes pastors, sometimes any of us, like to act like we’re the groom, and we’ll get to that in chapter 3. The church is the bride, Jesus is the groom, and at the most we can be like John, a part of the bridal party. But the point of the bridal party is not to make goo-goo eyes at the bride as she comes down the aisle. That’s not usually smiled upon, just like the point of pastoral ministry is not to have the bride fall in love with the bridal party but with the groom. John says “I’m a nobody. I’m not the one you’ve been waiting for. I’m a voice.”
And we all need to hear this. We need to know it about our own lives, our own ministries. That there’s a fine line between really loving people and conducting ourselves so that we will be thought lovely. And you can be very nice in both cases, you can be very sacrificing in both cases, you can work hard in both cases. But there’s a very thin, but important, line of motivation: You’re doing what you do to love or be loved? And so many of us really, it’s all eyes on me. To be loved, to be thought well of, to please people. We need this refreshing confession from John the Baptist. The measure of our faithfulness and the degree to which ministry will be freedom for us and not a burden, is the degree to which we can say “Look at him. I’m just a voice. Listen to the Word.”
And when ministry, whatever it is, ministering to your kids, ministering as an officer, ministering in Bible studies and small groups, or just trying to minister to friends, coworkers, neighbors… However you minister, ministry inevitably becomes a burden, this crushing weight, when we think it’s really all about us and how am I doing and what are the numbers and what are people thinking and are they looking at me and how’s it going and did I get any strokes today? And you start off with the best of intentions and motivations, and somehow you get a shell of your former self and brittle and easily broken, and we lose this wonderful sense of freedom that John the Baptist models for us here. “You want to know who I am? Zero! Nobody! Nothing! A voice.”
And John isn’t quite finished. Look at verse 24. The Pharisees question him. Verse 25: “Then why are you baptizing? If you’re nothing special, what gives you the right to be baptizing?” Baptism was a fairly common practice in the ancient world, even in Judaism. And onlookers there in the first century would have understood baptism as a purification and a cleansing rite. And the Jews practiced proselyte baptism. When somebody came into the Jewish faith, they were baptized, which is why it makes sense that for a time in the early church, circumcision and baptism existed side by side, but as the church left its explicitly Jewish character behind, baptism replaced circumcision. Baptism is that same sign of initiation. And it makes sense that at the beginning it was a sign of entering into the covenant and since it was for those who were coming into Judaism, it would have been administered to new believers. But just as circumcision was given to children, so baptism would have been administered to households, as we see in the book of Acts, to say you’re all coming in.
So they asked by what authority John was doing this. And John responds in a way that at first seems to avoid the issue but actually corrects their misunderstanding. He makes clear “I’m only baptizing with water,” and the contrast which is made explicit in the other gospels and will be spelled out later in the chapter, is between water and the spirit. John says, “Look, don’t be too impressed. I’m only giving the sign. I’m not making anyone clean. I’m not purifying. I’m not converting.” You know, if he were a pastor, he’d say “Okay, I did a baptism today. Don’t think that’s too special about me. I mean, I’m not making anybody a Christian with this. I’m not washing away anybody’s sins with this. I’m giving a sign, a sign.” So John doesn’t assert his authority as he could have, instead he uses their question as another opportunity to point to Jesus.
Incidentally, do you see how John, every question is an opportunity to speak of Jesus. But let me tell you about Jesus. I remember one time watching John MacArthur on Larry King Live on CNN and it was about yoga or something, should Christians do yoga, and he basically just said “What do you think, Pastor, should Christians do yoga?” “No, and let me tell you that Jesus Christ came into the world to die for your sins and be raised again on the third day…” and it was just like “I’m not here to talk about that really, I’m here to share the gospel. I’m going to talk about Jesus.” That’s what John does. Is that what we do?
Now John doesn’t yet reveal the identity of the Messiah. He’ll do that on the next day, but here he simply tells them again he’s nothing. There is one among them, he says, who is definitely something. You’re asking me about baptism, but you don’t even know, verse 26, “the one who stands among you.” He’s saying if you think I’m the point, you are missing the point. And then verse 27, he gives his rousing conclusion. This is his testimony about himself. So he stands in the witness box: “Mr. The Baptist, give us your testimony.” “I am not the Christ. I am not Elijah. I am not the Prophet. I am a voice crying in the wilderness.” And then he says “In conclusion, let me sum up: There is one who comes after me and I am not even worthy to stoop down and untie his dirty sandals.”
This is just the point in his introduction where he ought to be talking about his degrees and whether he was, you know, magna cum laude or summa cum laude, or very, very cum laude, or whatever, and talking about his followers and his likes and his retweets, and talking about all of that, but he doesn’t sum up that way. He says “Let me tell you what I’m not worthy to do.”
In the ancient world, teachers were usually not paid. It was unseemly to ask money for teaching. But, the teacher’s pupils or disciples would be expected to care for their teacher, do all sorts of menial tasks for their teacher: Running errands, getting clothing, doing whatever they needed. But they did have limits. There’s a rabbinic saying that dates to after the time of the gospels, but there’s good reason to think that it was still reflective of this time in the first century. The saying went like this: “Every service which a slave performs for his master shall a disciple do for his teacher except the loosing of his sandal strap.” That was a rabbinical saying. Okay, teacher, your disciples, they can do anything for you, but you got to draw the line somewhere. Okay? They’re not going to untie the strap of your sandals. These weren’t nice, cool boots. These are not trendy. These are walking around in dusty, dirty Palestine, the dirtiest part of your body, your feet. It’s like saying they’re not going to come and scrub your toilets. That’s the parallel. This is kind of eww, uuh, who would I have do that? The rabbi said you gotta draw the line somewhere. And then John the Baptist says “I’m not worthy to do even that. I’m lower than that rank compared to this one. I’m just a voice.”
What kind of introduction do you give to others? There’s nothing wrong with being at conferences and introducing people and, you know, we do it all the time. What is wrong is when we so desperately want to be important, so desperately want to be significant, so desperately want everyone to recognize our greatness in life. Looking at yourself, as you travel down that road, it is a dead-end street. It’s dark and lonely and friendless. But point to Christ, and you will have unbelievable joy and freedom. To say to all the world, to your kids, to everyone who will listen, “Look, I am not the main attraction. But I know the One who is.”
Not a bad way for John to introduce himself to the world, not a bad way for us, either. I am not the Christ. But would you like to meet him?
Let’s pray. Our Father in heaven, give to us this humility and this freedom. There may be some here this morning and we need a rebuke because we’re proud, we’re haughty, we’re self-important, and there’s others that need this rest that comes from this kind of freedom, to stop thinking it all depends on us, to stop thinking it’s all about us, to stop thinking that the planets of the solar system need us for their orbit. Help us to see who we are not, that we can find great freedom in who you are. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.