ALL-CHURCH FOCUS 2018 DEVOTIONAL

August 21st, Day #3 - John 1:19-34


Start here

The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” – John 1:29

 

How have you experienced the freedom of Jesus’ forgiveness? 

What guilt or shame still clings to your soul? 

Do you think Jesus is still holding it against you? 

Who needs to hear this message? 

Game On

Beyond the fantasy of the newest super hero movie, I find myself amazed at the selfless service of our military and the fearless work of our fire and police departments. Unfortunately, it often takes great suffering for these everyday heroes to rise to ourconsciousness the way they should on a regular basis.

 

Heroes are self-sacrificing and recognize that their task is not about them, but the larger mission. In today’s passage we see a key human actor in this divine drama: John the Baptist. He’s a towering human figure of his time, but he also knows his task: make the way for Jesus. John points to Jesus, the One God sent to redeem the crowd, all people, that are separated from Him.

 

Then, as Jesus steps on the scene, His mission is proclaimed from the beginning: “to take away the sins of the world” (verse 29) and this is by the power of the Holy Spirit (verses 32-33). John didn’t seek to make a name for himself. In our world of self-promotion, we should be struck all the more that he did the heroic work of dying to himself and pointing to Jesus. 

your move

Let’s look to what God wants to say directly to you today through John 1:19-34


Scripture: As you read, take time to notice the phrases that pop out at you. What is it about them that catches your eye? What might the Lord be trying to tell you?

 

Observation: Which words are repeated in these verses? Why would that be?

 

Application: When did God begin moving toward you in your life? How did you experience God’s love during that time?

 

Prayer: Praise God for the ways He has initiated with you in your life! Let your trust and gratitude grow during this special time of prayer.

Bonus Round

Today, we’ll take a deeper look at John: not the Apostle who wrote the Gospel of John, but the prophet who baptized Jesus and many others.

 

What mental image pops into your mind when you think of an evangelist?  If you are like most of us, you think of a person who holds high-level crusades in places all over the world-someone with lots of charisma someone who is well respected, even admired, by people around the globe.  Surrounding this person would be a well-oiled organization that helps in the day-to-day operations of the ministry.  Both the evangelist and the organization would be characterized by integrity and godliness; and, if God so chose to bless this ministry, He would use the evangelist's message to draw many people to commitment to Him.

 

Most of us find ourselves pretty comfortable with the image of the evangelist that I've just described. We support that kind of work; we welcome the words of challenge to unbelievers to find new life in Jesus and to believers to renew their faith and their commitment.  But what I find interesting is that the first evangelist who came on the scene in the New Testament, a man mentioned by all four of the Gospel writers, didn't fit this mold at all.  This fellow makes us feel uncomfortable-even just reading about him.  He was weird, strange-almost unbelievably unusual. In a world of dry, dusty, formal religion, in a world complacent about God and the coming of the Messiah, this man came stumbling out of the desert with a long bony index finger stabbing the air, screaming, Guilty!  You all are guilty!  Repent!  Mend your ways!  The kingdom of heaven is at hand! The Messiah has come.”  And the people of Jesus' day were no more ready to receive a person like that than we would be ready to tolerate him today.

 

I view John the Baptist as a cross between Rip Van Winkle and Robinson Crusoe.  He hadn't studied at any of the formal schools; he hadn't sat at the feet of the local rabbis.  He wasn't even familiar to the townspeople, having left his parental home twenty or so years before in order to live in the howling waste of the desert.  He appeared seemingly out of nowhere, as if having awakened from a long sleep, as if returning from a deserted island.  His clothing and diet were…interesting, to put it mildly.  Take a good long look at this man.  This was God's choice to be an evangelist, a proclaimer of good news, the man who would prepare the way for the arrival of God's Son, the Messiah, the Savior of the world.  He modeled what he preached- an austere, rugged, here's-the-truth now take-it-or-leave-it message.

 

John came to a community of devout Jews who had long anticipated the coming of the Messiah.  This passionate preacher desperately wanted people to turn from their sins and open their hearts to the life-changing power of the one true God who was to visit them in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ.

 

Mark began his Gospel by outlining the prophetic credentials of this man called John the Baptist.  In this quiet, reserved way, Mark described the beginning of a revolution the likes of which had never happened before and has never happened since.  This man was in fact the one of whom the prophets spoke (Isaiah 40:3; Malachi 3:1); he was the one who would announce the coming of the Savior.  And that he did, in a most compelling and challenging way that pointed always away from himself and toward Jesus: “He must become greater; I must become less” (John 3:30).

 

John came to clear the way, to prepare the way, and then to get out of the way.  That was at the heart of his mission statement as recorded by Mark in verses 7 and 8 of chapter 1.  After only one controversial but powerfully effective year of ministry, John was beheaded (Matthew 14:10). He didn't even live to see the age of 35.  He didn't live to see the crucifixion or the resurrection of the Messiah whose way he had prepared.  As a man of faith, fully committed to doing God's will, he accomplished the task for which God had called him, then stepped aside to make way for the Lord to carry out His plan of salvation - through the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. (John 1:29).

 

*This resource an excerpt from The Living Insights Study Bible by Charles R. Swindoll (Zondervan, 1996), page 1046.