The Public Identification of Christ
Text: John 1:30-34
Often when one says the word ‘prophecy’ they consider it solely in relation to the telling of the future. But, while it can mean that and often does, the primary meaning of the word relates simply to the declaring of truth. It is both foretelling and forth-telling.
As we consider John the Baptist, while he was a fulfilment of a foretelling, most of his own ministry was about forth-telling. Calling men to repentance and to Behold the Lamb of God.
John is the burning and shining light, out in the wilderness preaching Christ and multitudes and gathering to hear him, be baptized by him, and to follow him. The Jewish religious leaders and specifically the Pharisees eventually in curiosity and frustration, send a commission of Levites and priests to find out who John is.
The writer of the gospel then tells us what happens the next day out in the wilderness. By this stage, John the Baptist has already baptized the Lord Jesus. So it’s at least 40 days later.
Just as the Passover lamb had to be selected for its purity and unblemished condition before it killed as a sacrifice, so Christ had to go into the wilderness to be tempted 40 days by the devil to affirm His purity and impeccability.
Last time we dealt a little with the Passover and how it typified Christ as the Lamb of God, but the use of the lamb in sacrifices was not just annually at the Passover. In fact, every morning and every evening the priests in the Temple offered a sacrifice of a year old lamb for the morning and evening oblation, “The one lamb thou shalt offer in the morning; and the other lamb thou shalt offer at even” Ex 29:39
So if those priests and Levites were still hanging around, and they may have been, John the Baptist basically has told them that the family business is on its last legs. But unlike the lambs who were slaughtered, this Lamb lays down His own life – Jn 10:18.
I. IDENTIFIED IN HIS SUPERIORITY – v30
This is the third time (v15,27), exactly as he said in v15.
“preferred before me” – before in place and in dignity. So John preached that Christ was before him in position. He is a more exalted being. John said he wasn’t worthy to tie his shoe laces. Jesus Christ is King of kings and Lord of lords.
Let me challenge you again from these words child of God, can you say what John said? Jesus is preferred before you in place and dignity? If that’s the case, does your life reflect it? Is His will superior to yours in EVERYTHING?
“for he was before me” – before in the sense of time. And here John records that John the Baptist preached something that must have confused his hearers. He existed before me.
Everyone knew John the Baptist was born before Jesus of Nazareth. Everyone knew his ministry commenced before Jesus’ ministry. But John says “he was before me” i.e. Jesus existed before He became flesh.
And John the writer is supporting with a quote from John the Baptists to show that his teaching in v1 was not something he invented. John the Baptist preached it before John the disciple.
II. IDENTIFIED IN HIS OBSCURITY – v31
“And I knew him not” – shows us the extraordinary normality of Jesus’ life prior to the commencement of His ministry. John, a cousin of Jesus, testifies that he didn’t know who the Messiah was prior to baptizing Him.
Jesus was so humble in his life, that absolutely no one recognized Him for who He was prior to this public identification of Him
John was given the responsibility to call Israel to repentance and indicate that repentance by the baptism with water. The water could do nothing to save them, but it was an outward testimony of each individual of their preparation to receive the Messiah, until “he should be made manifest to Israel”.
III. IDENTIFIED IN HIS DIVINITY – v32-34
In v34 John the Baptist says “I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.” How do the events of v32-33 prove to John that Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God?
i) The testimony of the Spirit – v32
ii) The testimony of the Father – v33 “he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me…” In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established, and here John records that two witnesses of the Trinity attest to the person of Jesus.
Matt 3:13-17 – notice the testimony of the Spirit and the Father. Why was Jesus baptized? Matt 3:15. For the same reason He was circumcised, which symbolized the need to cut away sin even though He had no sin. Here he is baptized with a baptism of repentance even though He had no sin of His own to repent of. Why? He was doing it on our behalf.
And of course, this testimony from the Spirit and Father correlated with what John knew would be true about the Messiah. You can be sure, that if John knew he was the voice of one crying in the wilderness, then he would also have known:
“Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.” Is 42:1
“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me…” Is 61:1
Close – Lift up your eyes and worship Him! Behold the Lamb of God. He is as truly there in Heaven as He was here on earth. Behold Him! Worship Him! Trust Him! Love Him.
One day this same Jesus, this Lamb of God will summon every one of you to His judgment bar. Make sure He is an object of affection to you and not an object of terror, which is the case if you continue in your unbelief.
So I appeal to you in God’s name, believe on the Lamb of God. Believe and be saved!
He has been identified by John the Baptist. He has been identified by every believer in this place. But, you must identify Him. You must see Him as God’s provision for you sin. No one else. Nothing else.