Thursday, September 11, 2014

JEWELS from the GOSPEL of JOHN - FIRE and WATER: JOHN 1:23-27

The following is a series of short exhortations, brief commentary and writings to convey thoughtful meditation on God's Word. I have chosen the Gospel of John as the subject. These articles will not run contiguously on this blog but peppered throughout and in the midst of other articles (though some might be posted consecutively). I pray that these will be a blessing and an edification for the saints.

The prophets of old, born of the nation of Israel, and sent to the people were shown glorious things in visions of prophecy; many of which they didn't understand, and most especially in regards to the Messiah. Some of the visions and knowledge sent to them by God revealed the Messiah as a powerful, conquering King Who would lead His people Israel into victory and rule over the nations. Other visions showed the Messiah as meek, humble and suffering.

Such seeming contradictions were resolved in the Person of Jesus Christ Who fulfilled every prophecy made of Him as far as His First Advent is concerned; there are yet more prophecies to be fulfilled regarding His Second Advent, and so they shall be.

John the Baptist was honored above all prophets and seers of the Old Testament, in that he was the one chosen of God who would introduce the Messiah to Israel. The LORD Himself declared that of all the prophets (ALL! Including Moses, Samuel, Isaiah, Daniel), there were none as great as John the Baptist! WOW, huh?

Recall his words concerning himself:

JOHN 1:23
23 He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias.

Just a voice, unseen and only truly heard by those who had an "ear to hear" - a humble prophet who was content to 'take the back seat' as it were, once the Messiah appeared and began His ministry (JN. 3:30). The Pharisees sent inquirers to this strange, camel-coated prophet who spent his time in the Judean deserts, and when John declared who he was, and dutifully baptized Jews who came to him in repentance, they asked him:

JOHN 1:24-27
24 And they which were sent were of the Pharisees.
25 And they asked him, and said unto him, Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet?
26 John answered them, saying, I baptize with water: but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not;
27 He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe's latchet I am not worthy to unloose.

If only Christian leaders of today's world would follow John the Baptist's example of humility and his tender willingness to yield the center stage to the LORD Jesus! Televison abounds with programs where we see various so called ministers of Christ, with THEIR names emblazoned on the screen declaring THEIR ministry! They don't wear camel hair, they wear Armani suits. There hands are decked with costly gold and jewels, rather than rough-hewn and calloused like those no doubt, of the Baptists. Their feet are covered with expensive, fine leather shoes while the Baptists feet were probably covered in mud.

Televangelists boast and brag about their bank accounts, of their wealth and prosperity, of their status as 'a god' and empowered by - not the Force, but by the power of Faith (as if faith in itself is a power!?) - not so with the Baptist, though he exhibited far greater and deeper faith than all those ego-driven celebrities put together!  The Baptist tells it true with no regard to his own station or promotion: "There is One here that you do not know, that I am not even worthy to be His slave who is bound to the most menial of tasks!"

How intent John was in exalting the LORD, debasing himself before others when he could have made a name for himself. He declares instead that He is "preferred before me..." 

As Christians we should follow the Baptist's example, whose method of ministry mirrors that of the Holy Spirit Himself: He never speaks of, nor draws attention to Himself, but resolutely and always points to Jesus! The Holy Spirit is invisible, unseen and is content to be so. Likewise this Voice that is the Baptist - willing to be 'unseen' as any voice is, and rather let people see CHRIST instead! Let us be "all about Jesus" and point others to Him and if we boast of anything at all - let our boasts be limited to these two things: How great is our God and how weak we are without Him!

Before we end this exhortation, lets turn to a parallel passage in Luke Ch. 3 . . .

LUKE 3:16-17
16 John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire:
17 Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable.

The Baptist used water to baptize; yet the LORD Jesus baptized His followers with the Holy Spirit and fire! And the Baptist declared that when He came, He would purge His floor - that floor being the land of Israel no doubt, and those purged would be His people dwelling on the land. Yet "not all are Israel that are of Israel" (ROM. 9:5-7) and those who are not Jews by spiritual faith are chaff, being merely physical descendents of Abraham, the father of the faithful. These will be purged and He will burn them with fire unquenchable!

The same goes for the chaff that represents unbelieving Gentiles!
While humble and ever willing to take that place of humility, the Baptist didn't mince words, nor did he spare feelings, nor did he soft-soap his words! He declared the truth and warned people of the coming Judgment!

May we likewise not become slack and timid when it comes to such declarations and warnings towards those who are yet unbelieving and unrepentant! Even among our family members who might get upset with us for our boldness; even if we risk the anger of friends by telling them the Gospel truth

ALSO, something else to consider:

The ministry of WATER (The Word of GOD; EPH 5:26) and that of FIRE (The Spirit of GOD; HEB. 12:29) are both to be employed by the child of GOD in reaching the lost! I recall these words from a teacher I had early on in my Christian walk:

"The Word without the Spirit - you dry up; the Spirit without the Word - you blow up; the Spirit with the Word - you grow up!"

Let us therefore "grow in the grace and the knowledge of our LORD Jesus Christ" (2 PET 3:18) and meet the challenge of reaching this, our generation, with the Gospel of Salvation, with the FIRE and WATER! 


Next time we shall behold more JEWELS from the GOSPEL of JOHN, from the text of JOHN 1:29-34, entitled: The LAMB and the DOVE!

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