John 1:6-8, Isaiah 9:1-7, Isaiah 53:1-12, Luke 24:25-47, Acts 1:8, Matthew 3:16-17
Summary: In John’s prologue of his Gospel, he refers to the person and work of the forerunner of God’s Messiah. John the Baptist had the honor of being that individual and was one of a long line of biblical witnesses to the promise of the coming Redeemer.
John the Baptist is described in the opening verse of John’s Gospel as a man who was sent from God to bear witness of the Light that is the Lord Jesus Christ. John made it clear, however, that the Baptist was not that Light. There had been disciples of John the Baptist who carried his message of repentance to the people of Israel and honored him over the One whom he was presenting to the world as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” (1:29-34).
The late pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas, Dr. W.A. Criswell (1909-2002), wrote in his autobiography, “Standing on the Promises,” that his doctoral dissertation covered the topic of John the Baptist’s work and those that followed him in relation to the growing work and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. While John’s work is notable and honorable in terms of the plan of redemption that Almighty God put into place before the foundation of the world (Matthew 13:35), it is he who told his followers to turn to Jesus and follow Him; for he said that his work had to decrease in relevance (John 3:27-34).
John the Baptist was on the scene for probably no more than a year or two, and he knew his role was not to draw attention to himself but to point the people back to God and to repent in spite of heritage, nationality, status, or alleged religious fervor (Matthew 3:7-9).
Salvation starts with conviction and sorrow for our sins and the need to make things right with God, which is initiated by the Holy Spirit (John 6:44, 16:7-15). We must regard ourselves as sinners unable to redeem ourselves (Isaiah 64:6; Romans 5:6-11; Ephesians 2:8-9) and that we are in need of a Savior. And the only One who can provide that is the Sovereign LORD God Almighty (Isaiah 35:4, 45:22; John 3:17; Acts 4:12, 16:30-31; 1 Timothy 1:15; Titus 2:13; 2 Peter 1:11; 1 John 4:14).
John the Baptist was to bear witness of the Light in order that all might believe; the same reason why John wrote his Gospel (1:7, 20:31). Others before John also bore witness (Isaiah 43:10, 52:12-53:12), and others would do so afterward (John 15:27; Acts 1:8, 5:20-21, 18:9-10; 22:14-15). Who are these “witnesses”?
There is the witness of the Old Testament prophets who foretold of the mission and suffering the Messiah would undertake, and of the glory that was to follow (Isaiah 7:14, 9:6-7, 53:4-6; Micah 5:2). There are more than 300 prophecies concerning Christ and His redemptive work. Jesus reminded the two travelers on the road to Emmaus of these Scriptures as well as the apostles (Luke 24:25-27, 44-47).
God the Father bore witness by His promise of a Redeemer after Adam and Eve violated His commandments by listening to the deceptive words of the serpent in Eden (Genesis 3:15). He bore witness to Jesus’ work through the signs He performed and even as Nicodemus and the man born blind realized (John 3:2, 5:36-37, 9:32-33, 10:25, 37-38). God spoke from heaven and declared that Jesus was His “beloved Son” in Whom He was well pleased” at His baptism, the time of His Transfiguration, and the final week of His ministry prior to the crucifixion and resurrection (Matt. 3:16-17, 17:5, 12:27-30).
By raising Him from the dead, God the Father declared Jesus to be the Son of God with power and the One who will judge the world, as He taught on the Mount of Olives (Matthew 25:31-44; Acts 17:30-31; Romans 1:3-4; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Philippians 2:9-11; Revelation 20:11-15).
The testimonies and witness to the apostles attested to what Jesus said about Himself. They witnessed His miracles, His teachings, and the continual confrontation with the Pharisees. They saw Him give life to the dead, and John witnessed Jesus’ death on the cross alongside Mary, His mother, and a handful of mourners. The other apostles saw the resurrected Christ appear in the flesh and confirm to them that He was indeed God and Lord, as Thomas declared, forever silencing his own doubts and grief.
Their transformed lives and fearless preaching of the Gospel were the foundation of the early church and the canon of Scripture. They confronted and rebuked false doctrines and apostate teachers. Never once did any of them hold back, compromise, or deny their LORD, even under the threat and process of persecution that ended their earthly lives. Their changed lives and powerful work done in the might of the Holy Spirit transformed the hardest hearts and hopeless lives.
Because of their faith and unwavering devotion to the message and person of the Lord Jesus Christ, we are heirs of that testimony and witness today. As the world grows more depraved and the hatred of all things sacred turns even more vile and blasphemous, we must look to these witnesses within both Scripture and the testimonies of those throughout history who stood firm for His cause and carried His message to wounded hearts and empty souls here in America and around the world.
We cannot afford to falter or be silent in these last days. The witnesses of those before and with us who have stood firm for Jesus Christ show us the way. Let us walk in it and get into the Word more than ever.
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