Sunday – February 12, 2023
Word On Worship – Sunday – February 12, 2023
John testified saying, “I have seen the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and He remained upon Him. “I did not recognize Him, but He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, ‘He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.’
John’s Gospel alone explains the significance of our Lord’s baptism to John the Baptist. All the time John has been preaching, telling the Israelites that the Messiah is coming, the Baptist has not known the identity of Messiah for certain. As mentioned, John may have had his suspicions, but he does not have absolute proof. That proof comes at the baptism of Jesus. One day, John the Baptist is proclaiming to the people of Israel that Messiah is among them—but not yet identified. The next day, John is pointing to Jesus, testifying that He is the Messiah—the One of whom he has been speaking, and declaring, “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).
John is marked by humility, but this does not prevent him from preaching with boldness. John’s message is not watered down to please his audience. He speaks against sin, whether it be that of tax-gatherers or soldiers or even Herod himself. He clearly identifies sin, condemns it, and calls for repentance. This boldness is not a contradiction to his humility, but a manifestation of it. He is inferior and subordinate to his Lord, the Messiah. He would do no less than proclaim that message with boldness and clarity. There are those today, as there have always been, who water down the gospel, and leave out the hard words which define and condemn sin, and which call for repentance. Those who do so think they are doing the gospel a favor by making the message more appealing. In fact, they are emasculating it.
What made the dramatic difference in the Baptist’s preaching from one day to the next? It is what John the Baptist saw and heard at the baptism of our Lord. When, under protest, John baptizes Jesus, he sees the Spirit descend upon Him and remain upon Him. He hears the voice of the Father from heaven, declaring Jesus to be His beloved Son, in whom He is well pleased. He now knows for certain who the Messiah is, and from this point on, He refers to Jesus as God’s Messiah, the Son of God.
John is an example of a man of faith, the kind of person every Christian should be. Faith believes in what God has promised, rather than in what we now see. Faith lives in the present, in light of the future God has told us is certain. Faith is willing to suffer now in order to enter into God’s glory for all eternity. John spends a good deal of his time in public ministry speaking about a person whose identity he does not know for certain. He speaks a great deal about a Person who is going to come, who is even then present, but not identified, trusting that God will reveal Him. This is faith. And this is the very same kind of faith each of us is called to exercise.