Sermon Title: “What then shall we do? How then shall we now live in 2019: Words of Wisdom from the life of John the Baptist for the New Year”
Date: Sunday, December 30, 2018
Text: Luke 3:1-14
Speaker: Pastor Joseph
This morning, I have a burning message in my heart and some words of wisdom to share with you that will help you start the new year 2019 and will sustain you throughout the new year, and perhaps will mark your entire life. This message will give you victory in your Christian life and will stimulate your spiritual appetite for God. This special message is going to transform your life and give you a new perspective about what you should do and how you shall live before the face of God and in relationship with your neighbors in the year 2019. There are eight major and practical lessons I want you to draw from the life of John the Baptist to live a successful, Christ-centered, and compassionate life for the new Year.
Eight Major and Practical Lessons from the life and ministry of John the Baptist for the New Year
- John the Baptist was anointed by God and lived a life full of the Holy Spirit.
- John the Baptist was approved and attested by God.
- He received good public testimony.
- Jesus spoke good about him.
- He was zealous and passionate about the lost. He told them about Jesus.
- He was a man of profound conviction. He ready to suffer for what he believed or his conviction.
- He did not separate biblical faith and social action.
- John the Baptist was a man of profound humility and wisdom.
Overview about John the Baptist
- Father: A priest named Zechariah who received a vision from an Angel that he will have a son.
- Mother: Elizabeth, an aged and barren woman, who received a vision that she will have a baby at her old age.
***Zechariah and Elizabeth had no children prior to the birth of John the Baptist. Hence, they gave birth to a “miracle” child. The couple was known for their piety and was described as “righteous” before God and “walked blamelessly in all commandments and statues of the Lord” (Luke 1:6). Godliness is also associated with a life of prayer, that is dependent upon God—is what we learned from the life of this couple. Luke connects prayer (Luke 1:10, 13) with divine revelation, divine deliverance (Luke 1:13), and ministry/service to God (Luke 1:8).
- His name was chosen by God, even before he was born (Luke 1:13, 63).
The name: “English form of Iohannes, the Latin form of the Greek name Ιωαννης (Ioannes), itself derived from the Hebrew name יוֹחָנָן (Yochanan) meaning “YAHWEH is gracious”, from the roots יוֹ (yo) referring to the Hebrew God and חָנַן (chanan) meaning “to be gracious”. The Hebrew form occurs in the Old Testament (spelled Johanan or Jehohanan in the English version), but this name owes its popularity to two New Testament characters, both highly revered saints. The first is John the Baptist, a Jewish ascetic who is considered the forerunner of Jesus. He baptized Jesus and was later executed by Herod Antipas. The second is the apostle John, who is traditionally regarded as the author of the fourth gospel and Revelation. With the apostles Peter and James (his brother), he was part of the inner circle of Jesus.” Source: https://www.behindthename.com/name/john
- The birth of the child will bring joy and gladness to his parents and the people in their community will rejoice with them because of John’s birth.
- He was prohibited to avoid wine or strong drink (liquor) but was to be filled with the Holy Spirit of God (Luke 1:3).
- His diet was very strict and unordinary: “his food was locusts and wild honey” (Matthew 3:4); “For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine,” (Luke 7:33)
- John is called the “Prophet of the Highest” (1:76); whereas, Jesus is called “The Son of the Highest” (Luke 1:32).
- Godliness: “he will be great before the Lord (Luke 1:15)
- Spirit-filled at his conception: the focus on the work, impact, and centrality of the Spirit in John’s life is of paramount importance (Luke 1L15, 16).
- Spiritual restoration and renewal: He will bring and restore the people to God (his mission). He was a renewal prophet and a social action (ethical) prophet.
- He will be empowered by the same Spirit and even in greater intensity, that is by the Spirit of the Lord who empowered Prophet Elijah.
- “In the Wilderness”: Just like the prophets of old, “The word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wildness” (3:2). John lived a separate life in the wildness or was voice crying from the wilderness indicates his prophetic mission. The idea of wilderness bears many significances. It is in the wilderness God provides divine revelation, God provides his presence through a bright light and divine cloud. The wilderness is the place where God provides bread for his people and sustains them, both physically and spiritually. Wilderness is the place where one meets God through prayer and fasting. It means devotion to God and spiritual growth and progress. It means nearness and proximity to God and his presence. The wilderness is the place God reveals his mysteries, sanctifies his peoples, give ministers training for the ministry, and the place where God sets his people apart for himself and for the service he has called them to do. This John the Baptist is a spokesman, and ambassador for God from the wilderness (Luke 3:4).
Reasons for his empowerment
- For the cause of ministry
- To be an instrument in the hands of God to change the hearts of the people
- To bring spiritual renewal and revival to them.
- To make them walk in obedience to God.
- To make the unrighteous turn to righteous
- To get the people ready spiritually, ethically, and morally for the Messiah.
The Vocation of John the Baptist according to his father’s prophecy (Luke 1:66; 68-80)
- John’s miraculous birth signifies that God has graciously visited his people in order to redeem and renew them (v.68)
- The title, “a horn of salvation” in reference to John indicates that he will be the one to facilitate God’s gracious salvation through the forgiveness of sin and call to repentance (v.69). In this perspective, salvation means spiritual deliverance and deliverance indicates a break from God’s people from their enemies and their haters. God will give them peace and vindicate them from their enemies. John would be instrumental in God’s providing spiritual boldness to the people: “to serve God without fear and shame” (v. 74).
- The ultimate goal of John is to teach the people about the knowledge of God so they can be saved (v.76) from their sins, and the content of this knowledge of God will help them to know a) the problem of sin before a holy and righteous God, b) the gracious gift of repentance God will provide to them, and c) the gracious gift of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins and trespasses God will bestow upon them.
- John is going to help the people of God to “serve him without shame and fear” (v.74), to walk in holiness and righteousness before God (v.75)—which also imply moral excellence and godly ethical standards pleasing to God.
- He will prepare the hearts of the people for God’s good and intended use (v.76). John will be the repairer of broken branches, fragmented souls, disturbed hearts, and the transformer of a society in need of God’s grace, intervention, forgiveness, and deliverance.
- Through John, God will demonstrate his mercy, which entails three central goals God will accomplish through him: (1) the sunrise shall visit us from on high (divine visitation: God the Great Light and Great Sun who shine in our hearts will visit his people again, v.78), (2) the sunrise will give light to those who sit in darkness (and those who dwell in the labyrinth of death) (v. 79), (3) to guide our feet into the way of peace (John will provide spiritual light to the people and through his preaching, he will snatch those who live defeated lives in sin and under the influence of the devil. Those who are trapped by Satan will be delivered and liberated forever. John will be an instrument and facilitator of God’s peace, reconciliation, that is peace with God and reconciliation with one’s neighbor.
***The vocation of John, as described in his father’s (Zechariah’s) prophecy (Luke 1:68-80), is that of a model of authentic and biblical Christian discipleship and how we shall live Christianly, biblically, and ethically in the year 2019 and for the rest of our life.
The Eight Lessons about John the Baptist
- He was anointed by God and lived a life full of the Holy Spirit.
At his conception, the Spirit of God claimed Him. When he was born and his ministry, he followed the guidance of the Holy Spirit and submitted himself to his power.
- “Walk according to the Spirit (8:2-4).
- Set your mind on the things of the Spirit (8:5-8).
- Put to death the deeds of the body by the Spirit (8:13).
- Be led by the Spirit (8:14).
- Know the Fatherhood of God by the Spirit (8:15-17).
- Hope in the Spirit (8:23-25).
- Pray in the Spirit (8:26-27). In other passages Paul mentions —
- Be filled with the Spirit (Eph 5:18).
- Serve in the Spirit (Rom 7:6; 15:16).
- Love by the Spirit “(Rom 15:30; Gal 5:22-23; Col 1:8).
- Galatians 5:22-23, “22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
- Galatians 5: 16, “So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves.”
2. He was approved and attested by God.
Isaiah spoke about his coming: Isa. 40:3, A voice cries:[a]
- “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord;
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.”
- Malachi prophesied about him and called a special messenger from the Lord or God’s special messenger: Mal. 3:1, 3 “Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts.”
- Just like Jesus, John the Baptist was attested by God: Acts 2:22, 22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know.”
2. He received good public testimony.
He did not seek out the multitudes or people’s approval; rather, he attracted people to himself.
- The people from all over the surroundings came to see John: “People from Jerusalem and from all of Judea and all over the Jordan Valley went out to see and hear John” (Mt. 3:5)
- The people sought him, so they can get baptized and sought: “28 This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptizing” (Jn. 1:28)
- John 3:23, “23 Now John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because there was plenty of water, and people were coming and being baptized.”
- They came to John for spiritual advice and how to live in a manner worthy and acceptable to God:
- “What should we do then?” the crowd asked (Luke 3:10).
- “Even tax collectors came to be baptized. “Teacher,” they asked, “what should we do?” (Luke 3:12)
- “Then some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?” (Luke 3:14)
He was a person of great influence not because he was arrogant or proud; rather, he made God great his life. Pursing a life of godliness and integrity before God and the people was John’s single passion.
- The people perceived John to be a very great prophet, even Elijah since Elijah was transported to heaven and the people thought he never died and that he reincarnated as John the Baptist.
- John 1:19-23, “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[a] the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.”
- Both the people and even Jesus’ disciples compared Jesus to John the Baptist, “18 Now it happened that as he was praying alone, the disciples were with him. And he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” 19 And they answered, “John the Baptist. But others say, Elijah, and others, that one of the prophets of old has risen.” 20 Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered, “The Christ of God.” (Luke 9:18-20).
3. Jesus spoke good about him.
- Jesus affirmed the utility of John the Baptist and confirmed the importance of his ministry and his greatness. Although he was the Son of God, the eternal God-Son who existed before John, the sinless Jesus Messiah, he humbly accepted to be baptized by John.
- Jesus said that John was a prophet (Matthew 11:9), but more than a prophet (Luke 7:26-29). In fact, he is the greatest man and prophet who has ever lived in human history.
- 13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. 14 But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”
15 Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented.
16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:13-17
- “I tell you the truth, among those born of women, no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he is” (Matthew 11:11).
- 41 Many came to him and began to say, “John performed no miraculous sign, but everything John said about this man was true!” (John 10:41)
- 18 The disciples of John reported all these things to him. And John, 19 calling two of his disciples to him, sent them to the Lord, saying, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” 20 And when the men had come to him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to you, saying, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?’” 21 In that hour he healed many people of diseases and plagues and evil spirits, and on many who were blind he bestowed sight. 22 And he answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers[e] are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. 23 And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.” (Luke 7: 18-23)
- 24 When John’s messengers had gone, Jesus[f] began to speak to the crowds concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? 25 What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who are dressed in splendid clothing and live in luxury are in kings’ courts. 26 What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 27 This is he of whom it is written,
- “‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face,
who will prepare your way before you.’
- 28 I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” 29 (When all the people heard this, and the tax collectors too, they declared God just,[g] having been baptized with the baptism of John, 30 but the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected the purpose of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him.) (Luke 7:24-30)
- 31 “To what then shall I compare the people of this generation, and what are they like? 32 They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to one another,
“‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge, and you did not weep.’
33 For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ 34 The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ 35 Yet wisdom is justified by all her children.” (Luke 7:31-35)
4. He was zealous and passionate about the lost. He pointed people and told them about Jesus.
- His entire life was characterized by one action: to “bear witness about the life”:
- 1:7-8, “7 He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. 8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.”
- “I saw the Spirit descend as a dove from heaven, and it remained on him. 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.’ And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God” (John 1:32-34).
Explicitly, John highlights three important facts about Jesus and his mission:
- Jesus is the Passover Lamb, the sacrifice
- comes to die for the sins of the world.
- Jesus’ mission is universal. Jesus is the universal Savior for everyone.
John’s preaching was characterized by three truths:
- The focus on the identity and person of Jesus, not on Himself
- He emphasizes the coming of the Kingdom of God and makes serious demands to the citizenship to repent of their sins, so they can get in.
- The warns people about the ultimate judgment of God if they do not repent.
5. He was a man of profound conviction.
- John experience isolation, humility, and even suffered for his belief. He was ready to suffer for what he believed or his conviction.
- Herod imprisoned him because he preached about sin and condemned his adulterous life with Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip: Matthew 14:1-12; Mark 6:14-29.
- Herod beheaded John in prison.
- He called the people to live holy lives and preached to them the good news, that is the Gospel (Luke 3:18).
- He was bold and transparent about the problem of sin in society. He demanded inward purification demonstrated by outward righteousness and holy living not outward purification: “Who told you to flee from the wrath to come”
6. He did not separate biblical faith and social action.
- He called people to live justly and ethically: to the general people and pharisees “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance” (Luke 3:8).
- He called them to care for the poor and to share what they have with those in need:
- To the general crowd: “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.” (Luke 3:11)
- To the tax collectors: “Don’t collect any more than you are required to,” he told them” (Luke 3:13).
- To the soldiers: He replied, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay.” (Luke 3:14)
Implications of this passage: Here we see
- the emphasis on the art of giving and attitude of giving (Luke 3:10),
- to be committed to feeding the hungry and clothe the naked (Luke 3:11).
- 2019 should be a year wherein you should be a new person, a renewed Christian, a person of compassion and integrity that is measured by God’s holiness and one who is moved by human suffering, pain, nakedness, and desolation (Luke 3:11).
- To live ethically and morally before the Lord is a call from John the Baptist (Luke 3:13). The implications to live ethically and morally before God and before people in society means not to steal from people, not to cheat people, and be content in life (3:10). Also, not to bear false witness, that is not to tell lies on people so you can gain a benefit or get a raise at work.
- The call not to live in excess and beyond your means and your ability.
- The call to be content with what you have and what God has already given you.
- We are called to be a Christian of character, transformed by the teachings of Jesus, conformed to the Word of God, and radically changed by the gospel of repentance, grace, forgiveness, and peace.
7. John the Baptist was a man of profound humility and wisdom
- Matthew 3:11, 11 “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire”
- John 1: 26-7, “I baptize with[a] water,” John replied, “but among you stands one you do not know. 27 He is the one who comes after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie” 28 This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptizing (John 1:26-7)
- John reveals who Jesus is as the people’s sin bearer and atonement, as Israel’s Messiah. He recognizes his rank and statue before Jesus. (John 1:28-30)
- He humbled himself before Jesus (Mark 7: -8)
- He bears witness about Jesus (John 1:29-30). We exist to bear witness about God’s majesty and his grace in our lives through Christ Jesus.
- John publicly tells people about who Jesus is (John 1:29-36)
John’s Message for us Today as we’re looking forward to the new year, 2019
- Repentance of sins is always followed by good works and genuine Christian ethical and transformative actions. Repentance and forgiveness of sin, which introduce us to the Christian life, necessitates a life that is characterized by acts of compassion and love toward those in need and the poor (Luke 3:8). Christianity means life transformation, and this life transformation must be visible in your life and for everyone to see it. We are called to be godly and to Christian piety in the manner of Christ, and to bear fruit consistent to biblical Christianity and our active commitment to Christ.
- The warning and judgment: God will throw out of the church the lukewarm and the players. God wants you to take your Christian life seriously. As Jesus says to the Christians and church in Laodicea: “I will spit you out of my mouth” (Rev/ 3:14). God wants you to make a decision for him in his new year 2019. Life is about decision makings. God wants commitments from you and he has no time for playing church nor does he have time for Christians who are neither cold nor hot (Rev. 3:14-15). God will vomit you out of his mouth (Rev. 3:14) He has not patience for lukewarm Christians. It is either you change your style, your Christianity, your spiritual walk, if not, you will experience God’s judgment. God is calling you for a time for commitment and spiritual renewal.
- We are called to live a life of active personal evangelism, simply to share Jesus with the lost and the unchurched.
- To invite people to Jesus and to point them to Jesus, just like John did.
- Not to be afraid to share the word of God with lost people.
- Tell them about the promise of forgiveness that is in Christ, and that Jesus the Lamb of God has already died for their sins.
- Tell them the imperative to live Christianly and biblically, and the urgency to please God, walk with Christ, to live faithfully to God, and to embody the transformative teachings and compassion of Jesus for all people, especially the poor.
- To be bold and courageous about our faith, and not to be afraid to tell people about Jesus. The Holy Spirit will empower you and will give you the word you need in moment of need.
- Be humble and let Christ increase in you while you decrease, just like John the Baptist.
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