The first thing I want to underline is that Jesus moves towards us before we move in His direction (29). He takes the initiative. He is the ‘Prime Mover’ in our salvation. No-one will become a witness for Christ, or a preacher of the gospel without this starting point of a God-initiated meeting with the Lord. There is great power in preaching where we not only ‘testify’ to the truth, but can also say ‘I have seen and I testify…’ (34). As a preacher, always seek to ‘see’ that which you ‘testify’ to; to experience what you preach about. Obviously, it is important to preach salvation as a saved person; as a genuine believer in Jesus, ‘the Son of God’.
John the Baptist stands before us as a ‘model’ preacher. He was Christ-centred and Cross-centred. He said:
‘Look’ – look at Jesus; look to Jesus, to take away your sin. There was none of the platform strutting, ego parading ‘look at me’ mentality on display; nothing of the peacock preacher. John knew that Jesus is the answer and he was not. His ministry was all about Jesus (31b). He was humble. He freely confessed his ignorance apart from divine revelation: ‘I would not have known him, except…’ (33).
I heard Alec Passmore speak on verse 29 and 2 Corinthians 3:18. His theme was ‘a saving look’ and a ‘sanctifying gaze’. It takes a moment to look to Jesus and be forgiven; but it then takes a lifetime of gazing on Him,in adoration, to be made like Him. 2 Corinthians 3:18 speaks about our being ‘transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory’ as we ‘behold’ or ‘contemplate’ ‘the Lord’s glory’. (The word used can also mean ‘reflect’)
John preached the SACRIFICIAL death of Jesus – Jesus as ‘the lamb’ – the fulfilment of the Old Testament sacrificial system (29).
John preached the SUPREMACY of Jesus (30). In terms of time, John was born first; but in terms of eternity, Jesus existed before John. He superseded His cousin – He was pre-existent. John knew his place, bent low at the feet of Jesus and at the foot of His cross.
John preached the SPIRIT-anointed/SPIRIT-imparting Jesus. We need this double emphasis on the Cross and the Holy Spirit in our preaching today. Proclaim Jesus as Saviour and Sanctifier. He both forgives sin and frees from its power. He changes us; makes us different. ‘He breaks the power of cancelled sin…’ Let us seek the ‘something more’ of the Holy Spirit and preach that ‘something more’.
There can be such a temptation to make Christian ministry about us. It is NEVER about us. The preacher’s work is to lift up Christ alone. God the Holy Spirit will greatly bless a ministry where the focus is on Christ crucified.
As Jesus said, ‘He will glorify me…’
Prayer: Lord, please give me a heart like John’s – a grand obsession with Jesus.