- Sermon Notes
Intro: Point them upward.
This morning we are going to look at the ministry of a man named John the Baptist. He devoted his life to pointing the world toward the Messiah.
Read: Matthew 3:1-17
Prior to John the Baptist coming onto the scene, there had been about 400 years of prophetic silence. During this time, no one had represented God to the nation of Israel, until John the Baptist begins his ministry as depicted in Matthew chapter 3.
John the Baptist was sent by the Lord to prepare the way for Jesus. He would prepare people for the coming of Jesus by calling them to repentance, to change their hearts and lives, telling them that the “kingdom of heaven is at hand.”This term, “at hand” means within easy reach, nearby, or as close as your hand. John recognized his purpose in telling the world to turn their lives around because the Messiah was near.
One of our core principles as a ministry highlights the importance of telling the world. We are recipients and witnesses of Christ ministry on earth. We have a great opportunity each day to lead in the Gospel presentation of Christ’s birth, life, death, resurrection and the importance of humanity's recognition, need and change of course.
I. Prepare the Path
- The purpose of John’s ministry, the calling on his life, is to prepare the path for the coming Messiah.
Isaiah 40:3, He was the voice of one crying in the wilderness, “Make ready the way of the Lord; Make His paths straight!”
- John the Baptist himself quoted this scripture when he was asked by the Jewish priests, “who are you? Are you the Christ? Are you Elijah? Are you the prophet?” His answer was, “No, I am the voice crying in the wilderness, preparing a way for the coming Lord.”
- This is the nature of ministry for you and me as well. It is not about who we come as, rather, who we prepare the way for.
- In the culture and time, if a great king was to visit a city, or journey through a desert country, people would go out before them to level the path and remove all impediments.
- There are people who do not know Jesus and need to be prepared to meet Him.
- You prepare the way for others when you walk your life for Jesus, demonstrating His teachings through the way you live your life and telling your world how Christ can give their lives new meaning.
Romans 10:14, How will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?
- You can “make straight paths for Him” by being willing to speak into misconceptions and point others towards His love and grace!
- There may be people you know who are in need of your being their “John the Baptist” preparing a path in their lives.
Turn toward God
- John’s message was simple and powerful, “repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
- To repent means to turn around, to have a change of mind and heart. To leave one place and head to another.
- Repentance describes what coming to God is like. We can’t come to the kingdom of heaven unless we leave our sin and the self-life.
Illus. Portland to Seattle.
Hebrews 12:1-2, Let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith.
- John is telling the people that it is time to turn it around, to change their course, to lay aside the sin which easily entangles.
- His message was straightforward. He didn’t do anything to dull it down, to make it easier to hear or receive, he simply said what he needed to say.
Illus. How do I say this?
- Don’t let worry keep you from sharing what is on your heart and mind. It will likely be freeing for you, and for others.
- Matthew tells us in verse five that Jerusalem and all Judea were being baptized by him and confessing their sins.
- The message that most would avoid was the cry of John’s heart, and he didn’t hold back.
- So effective was his message that even the Pharisees and Sadducees came to him for baptism.
- These were the religious leaders of the day.
- When John saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism he said to them, “Bring forth fruit in keeping with repentance;”
A.Let outward commitment reflect inward change
- We might ask the question, why did they come to John? Answer; because at some point it became the fashionable thing to do because John was highly esteemed and considered to be a prophet.
- But John essentially tells them that if they are getting baptized by him, indicating their sins are washed away, it should be reflected the way they live, they needed to bear the fruit of a changed life.
- Additionally, there was a common belief at the time; that because they were sons of Abraham, they were therefore right with God.
- John challenged them by saying, “Do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’”
- For us today, it is like saying it is the faith of our grandparents or parents that determines our life in Christ.
Illus. Trying out.
Galatians 3:6 -7, Even so Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness. Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham.
- It wasn’t Abraham that determined the way for the Pharisees and Sadducees, they needed inward change and outward commitment.
- John was baptizing people for the purpose of repentance. It was a ceremonial washing that confessed sin and demonstrated repentance.
- Christian baptism is like John’s in the sense that it demonstrates repentance but is also more. It’s being baptized into Christ; His death, burial, and resurrection (Romans 6:1-8).
- Water baptism for us, is a public, outward testimony that indicates a personal, inward faith. It identifies the believer with the message of the Gospel and the person of Jesus.
- It signifies the believers’ death to the old life and their resurrection as a new creation in Christ.
Colossians 3:1, Therefore if you have been raised up in Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.
- When we are baptized today, we identify our lives with Christ. Recognizing that by His death, burial and resurrection, Jesus has made a way.
- The word “imitate” in the Greek is “mimic.”
II.Jesus is the Way
- John was preparing the way of the Lord, by readying the world around him for the arrival of the Messiah.
- This glimpse we get of his ministry, shows us his awareness that it wasn’t about what he was doing, rather, it was all about who he was doing it for.
Matthew 3:11, “As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”
- Personally, it is a blessing to be used by the Lord, in leading worship, in sharing His word. But in the midst of it all, I cannot forget who I am
doing it for.
A.Live for Him
- John was experiencing great success in his ministry. The cry of his heart, for people to turn towards Jesus was becoming successful.
- People were coming from all over thinking that John was “the one,” asking him, are you the Christ?
- No prophet has been around for 400 years, surely the people were excited once John came on the scene.
- Knowing that the purpose of his work was to prepare people for Jesus, his integrity would be tested when Jesus showed up.
Illus. Just an unpaid assistant.
- When Jesus shows up to the place you are most passionate about, the skill you are most known for, or, the work you are most profitable in, give God Him the glory.
- Psalm 115, Not to us, Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory.
- John’s life and ministry was one big arrow pointing to Jesus and our lives should fit that form as well.
Philippians 4:19, And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ.
Illus. Can I borrow your boat? Luke 5:3-6
A.Follow His lead
- When Jesus arrived to the place John was to be baptized by him, immediately John tried to prevent him.
Matthew 3:14, “I have need to be baptized by you and You come to me?”
- John recognized that Jesus had nothing to repent of, it would be more appropriate for Jesus to baptize Him.
- But Jesus had a greater purpose. His purpose was to completely identify with sinful man. This was only the beginning.
Isaiah 53:12, He poured Himself out to death, and was numbered among the transgressors; ye He Himself bore the sin of many, and interceded for the transgressors.
- After being baptized, the Holy Spirit descended like a dove and remained upon Him and then the voice of the Father, “this is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
- The voice of the Lord is heard by all at that very moment.
- John was willing to go and tell the world. To prepare the way for Jesus and Jesus met him in the midst of his calling.
- What Jesus wanted John to do was baptize Him. It would fulfill part of God’s plan in making a way and showing His true humanity.
- John initially sought to prevent Jesus from being baptized. He was unworthy. John himself a sinful man, he needed Jesus to baptize him. But Jesus said to John, permit it at this time. Why? There was a plan He wanted to fulfill.
- John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus, and the Lord spoke to a people who had not heard from Him in 400 years.
- Jesus laid down His life for all, making a way for all to become sons and daughters. He made himself nothing, taking the nature of a servant, being made in human likeness, though He Himself was God in the flesh, He died the death of a thief on the cross and God exalted Him to the highest place (Phil 2:6-9).
Matthew 10:39, … “Whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
- Tell the world of Jesus, find your purpose, in His purpose, your world will see Jesus.
Now in those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” For this is
the one referred to by Isaiah the prophet when he said, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make ready the way of the Lord, Make His paths
straight!’” Now John himself had a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then Jerusalem
was going out to him, and all Judea and all the district around the Jordan; and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, as they confessed
their sins. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from
the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruit in keeping with repentance; and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father’;
for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham. The axe is already laid at the root of the trees; therefore every
tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. “As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming
after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in His
hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable
fire.” Then Jesus arrived from Galilee at the Jordan coming to John, to be baptized by him. But John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I have need to
be baptized by You, and do You come to me?” But Jesus answering said to him, “Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill
all righteousness.” Then he permitted Him. After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and
he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I