John the Baptist introduced Jesus to Israel. It was his crowning prophetic achievement and a ministry privilege given to him by God. It came with a huge price tag, one he was willing to pay. John told us three things about Jesus. Understanding them will help us to better understand the gospel and share it with others.
The first revelation God gave John was that Jesus is the Son of God, the Christ, the long awaited Messiah King of Israel.
“This is He on behalf of whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’ 31 “I did not recognize Him, but so that He might be manifested to Israel, I came baptizing in water.” 32 John testified saying, “I have seen the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and He remained upon Him. 33 “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.’ 34 “I myself have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God.” John 1:30-34 (NASB)
This revelation corresponds to the most important revelation each person must also receive from God in order to be saved. Consider the following Scriptures.
He *said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. Matthew 16:15-17 (NASB)
Nathanael answered Him, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel.” John 1:49 (NASB)
Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him. 1 John 5:1 (NASB)
that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. Romans 10:9-10 (NASB)
The primary revelation each person must have in order to be a follower of Christ pertains to his person, who he is. He is the King of Kings. Acknowledging his identity and greatness is what saves us. (This will probably surprise those who have only heard the plan of salvation and the standard admonition to ask Jesus to come into our hearts.) The antichrist and those influenced by that spirit of rebellion refuse to bow the knee to Jesus, the King. Our Lord was put to death because the Jewish religious leaders and Roman authorities condemned him for claiming to be the Messiah King of Israel.
The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and by that law He ought to die because He made Himself out to be the Son of God.” John 19:7 (NASB)
The essence of the Christian faith is our acknowledgement and surrender to Jesus as the Messiah, the Lord of Lords.
The second revelation John received from God was that Jesus is the Lamb of God.
The next day he *saw Jesus coming to him and *said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! John 1:29 (NASB)
Probably most people who claim to be Christians know Jesus primarily as the Lamb of God. The reason for this is that most often the plan of salvation is proclaimed instead of the true gospel. The plan of salvation focuses on the Lamb of God ministry of Jesus, which is vital to the overall plan of God, but misses the larger point of Jesus’ greatness as Lord of Lords. In our consumer culture, it is only natural that Jesus would be presented for what he can do for us – forgive our sins. The true gospel is not consumerist, however. Yes, Jesus gives us forgiveness, but only in the context of radical surrender to his Lordship, which demands repentance. Presenting forgiveness without the call to surrender is a distortion of the gospel at best, and leads people away from the application of the cross as a way of life. Jesus said that people must enter a narrow gate and walk a narrow path in order to follow him. Preaching only forgiveness without Lordship, is too wide a gate and path.
It is proper and necessary to proclaim the forgiveness of sins. Jesus told us to do so.
Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, 47 and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. Luke 24:45-47 (NASB)
But let us not forget that Jesus is only able to forgive sins because he is the God-man. The Pharisees rightly recognized that Jesus made himself equal to God when he forgave sins.
“Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming; who can forgive sins but God alone?” Mark 2:7 (NASB)
Jesus was put to death for claiming to be God and Lord, not because he forgave. Our witness must always include his claims to Lordship if we are going to be authentic. The world can tolerate Jesus’ claim to forgive, but it hates his claim of absolute rulership.
The third revelation of John the Baptist also corresponds directly to a revelation that each follower of Christ is to receive as well.
“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 1:33 (NASB)
The first revelation tells us who Jesus is. The second tells us what he did for each one who puts his or her faith in him. This third revelation is given to reveal Jesus’ ministry as baptizer in the Holy Spirit, a gift he gives to equip and empower his followers to be his witnesses.
but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” Acts 1:8 (NASB)
This revelation also flies in the face of modern-day consumerism. This ministry of Jesus is part of the call to discipleship and obedience to the Great Commission – “Go and make disciples…” It takes great courage to testify to the Lordship of Jesus and his call to repentance. Unless we get this part right, the forgiveness of sins can become a self-centered quest by consumerists who are only in it for what they can get out of it. Jesus never intended to call people to receive forgiveness without challenging them to surrender to his lordship in all areas of life.
As the Lord uses us to present his gospel to those who live, work, and play around us, let’s be sure to cover every revelation of John the Baptist. We are to preach Jesus the Lord of Lords who calls people to surrender and obedience. He forgives sins and calls us to be his ambassadors on the earth to get this gospel message to everyone who will listen and to teach others to do the same.