The following is the text for my homily message on KFUO radio on February 5, The first link is for the discussion on John the Baptist. The second link is my homily on John 1: 19-34
ESV John 1:19 And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?”20 He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.”
21 And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.”
22 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?”
23 He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.”
24 (Now they had been sent from the Pharisees.)
25 They asked him, “Then why are you baptizing, if you are neither the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?”
26 John answered them, “I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know,
27 even he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.”
28 These things took place in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing.
29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
30 This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’
31 I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.”
32 And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him.
33 I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’
34 And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”
John 1:19 – 34 Sermonette on KFUO for February 5, 2015
I’m from Boston, where politics is as much of a spectator sport as the Red Sox, Celtics, Patriots or Bruins. One of the great events is the politician, office holder who gets stopped by the police. Doesn’t matter the offense, the retort is always “do you know who I am?”. That’s almost always a tip off that the person knows they got busted, that they’re in trouble and now they’re trying to use their position to weasel their way out.
Seems we often get too caught up in the person and not the message.
There certainly is a time and a place, a need to know what someone is doing, who it is that’s doing it. Why do we get so caught up, so often needing to know the messenger and not focused on the message? Yes, we get some really messed up messages today and from multiple sources: Television, computers, radios, music recordings. How do we know that they are not of God? Because they don’t communicate the Gospel message. As Christians we should be able to discern what the Gospel message is from the message of the world.
Why do we get so caught up in the “Who are you?” In this day and age, it’s not so much “Who are you?” But “Who are you to tell me?” The message doesn’t seem to matter any more..There is no discernment today, there is simply blind allegiance to whoever it is that is conveying the message. If it’s the right athlete or the right recording artist or the right author, politician yada, yada. The right Bible teacher? Ahhhh, not so much… Unless he’s telling us what we want to hear.
The priests, the Levites, just weren’t that terribly concerned with what John the Baptist preached. Just not really interested, they were interested in who he was. They did that a lot with Jesus too, “where is your authority?”, “What gives you the right?” Not so much like the Bereans, they knew perfectly well who Paul was, good and bad. What did they do, just fall in love with the fact that Paul was talking to them? No! Acts 17:11: “Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.”
The priests and Levites didn’t seem to be terribly impressed with John or his message, they wanted him to be Elijah, or someone with a rockstar name for them to fall in love with and listen to. Despite the fact that John was saying all the right things, mostly quoting out of Isaiah and continually steering attention away from himself, something else that made him suspect, at least to the priests and Levites. He was odd, odd clothing, odd food, odd practices, baptizing people, and like Jesus did not fit the mold that they were looking for. They weren’t interested in the validity of the words. They didn’t take down his words and go back to study if John was validly preaching Scripture, God’s revelation, especially as it related to the coming Messiah. No, they wanted the messenger to be Elijah, “the prophet”, who was this guy John?
The take away is this. We are not called to fall in love with the messenger. John the Baptizer was the last of the Old Testament prophets, he was an odd duck, as they all were, none of them were rockstars that you’d fall in love with. But they did convey God’s Word, they did give us God’s revelation? This passage in John’s Gospel quotes John the Baptizer as quoting or alluding to passages in Isaiah, Daniel, Malachi, Genesis and Psalms. The priests and the Levites, the rest of the house of Israel missed the point, getting so caught up in “do you know who I am?”, They missed the message of the Gospel. They stuck with their Laws and rules, relying on them to save them, when they had actual grace and forgiveness in their presence, right before them. They missed salvation in the Gospel. As a pastor, as a minister of Christ I am charged with preaching the truth, I am charged with giving the hope and promise of the Gospel. Not what someone wants to hear, but what God the Father tells us is true salvation in His Son Jesus Christ. I’m definitely not a rock star, but if I am telling you what you need to hear and giving you what you need; Baptism, the Body and Blood of Jesus, the Word, the Father’s Absolution of your sins, you should listen. By all means, be a Berean and take my word back and study it. I love it when someone pushes me on something I said in a sermon or wrote in a blog. But trust that I was placed here as a minister, as a representative of Jesus in order for Jesus to use me to give to you what you need for salvation in Jesus. I’m definitely not going to say “do you know who I am?” Because you wouldn’t. But I can say, as any disciple in Jesus can say, do you know that I am a brother in Christ and that true salvation is in Jesus? It’s not the messenger, it’s whether it’s the message of Jesus Christ in Scripture that is telling you that God the Father has saved you in Jesus. John would have told them: “And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.” They just wanted to ask the questions when they could have stopped and listened to the one who prepared the way for the Lord.