2018 02 11 am – John 1: 29-34 – Witnessing 101 – Part 2

Is it enough just to live a moral life? Is that a witness to Christ by itself? Or must we tell people about Jesus?

(Read before – As you know, in our afternoon services we are working our way through the Lord’s Days of the Heidelberg Catechism.  And in the Lord’s providence, this afternoon we are at Lord’s Days 26&27, which have to do with baptism.  And you will have noticed several mentions of baptism in our text this morning.  The one speaking is John the Baptist and he speaks about being sent to baptize with water, while Jesus was sent to baptize with the Holy Spirit.  So what we will do today is to focus this morning on John being a witness of Jesus, and then this afternoon we will consider what he says about his baptism and the baptism of Jesus in connection with Lord’s Day 26&27.)


Congregation of the Lord Jesus Christ,

If you were here last week you will remember that we talked about first year and first semester University courses, 101 courses, being basic or introductory courses.  So we are calling this section of John’s Gospel witnessing 101.  John, the author of the Gospel, is giving us a case study of John the Baptist as a perfect example of witnessing or sharing the good news about Jesus.  And we saw last week that there are three parts to John’s example:

  1. First of all, in vv19-28, John denied that he is the Christ. And we looked at that passage last week.  Our main point was that we will only be effective witnesses for Jesus when we forget about ourselves and think about others and their need for a Saviour.  It is only when the thought that your relative or your neighbour or your workmate will go to hell unless they repent and believe in Jesus fills you with a deep sadness that you will tell them about Jesus.  And you will tell them even if they don’t really want to hear it!
  2. The second part of this witnessing lesson is our passage today where John points people to Jesus as the light.
  3. And then the third part, which we will look at next time we are together, is the rest of the chapter where we see that John witnesses to Jesus because he wants people to believe in Him.


So, as we continue to consider John the Baptist as the perfect example of a witness of Jesus, we turn our attention today to vv29-34 where John tells people about Jesus.


I once read about a young man who was raised in a Christian home but sent away to a boarding school.  Now, this wasn’t a Christian school so his parents were not sure how the boy would cope.  And this was long before there was email and cell-phones and Skype.  So it wasn’t until the school holidays and his return home that his parents could ask him how he was getting on.  He answered, “Oh, I got along just fine.  No one even knows that I am a Christian.”  Now, I don’t know what his response reveals about his behaviour and language, but he certainly was not telling anyone that he was a Christian or sharing the good news about Jesus.  But must we do this?  Must we actually tell people about Jesus and salvation?  Isn’t enough just to live a good life?  I mean, 1 Peter 2:12 says, “Live such good lives among the pagans…”  Right?  And Matthew 6:16 says, “In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds.”  So you often hear people talk about the witness of their good works.  Have you heard that?  Have you said that yourself?  And it is true that doing good can be noticed by others.  Perhaps you have heard the story of the soldier who would get down on his knees and pray beside his bed in the bunkroom every night, even though he shared the room with his fellow soldiers.  One night, as a bit of a prank, one of the other soldiers threw his boots at him while he was praying and they all had a good laugh at this soldier’s expense.  But the next morning, when the soldier who threw his boots woke up, his boots were by his bed all shiny and polished.  And that soldier became a Christian because he was blown away by the Christian soldier’s kindness.  So, of course we are to live upright and moral lives: We are not to pay back evil for evil.  We should not swear or blaspheme or laugh at or tell dirty jokes.  We should observe the Lord’s Day.  Hebrews 13 commands us to honour marriage and to keep the marriage bed pure.  We should be kind and gentle and peace-loving.  Living a pure and morally upright life is very important.  But you know, I left a few important words off that verse in Matthew 6 that I mentioned a moment ago.  The full verse is “In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”  So how do people get from seeing your good deeds to praising your Father in heaven?  How did that soldier get from being amazed that the Christian would polish his boots to becoming a Christian?  It was when he asked the soldier why he responded the way he did and heard about the Lord Jesus.  People will only praise the Father when we tell them who Jesus is and what He came to do.  And it is only when we do this that we are being a complete witness.


Let’s look at John as a perfect example of this.  The priests and Levites have asked him if he is the Christ or Elijah or the Prophet and he has denied being any of these.  He could have stopped there.  He had answered all their questions.  He didn’t need to say anymore.  He could have convinced himself that he was living a moral life and that they knew the OT just like he did.  But he did not.  In v26-27, he kind of lays a foundation for what he says the next day by speaking very humbly about himself and in a very exalted way about He who was coming.  So already there is a lesson there in that John spoke about Jesus in a way that glorified Him.  There is respect and honour and awe and admiration and reverence in how John speaks about Jesus.  And the Lord Jesus is worthy of this exaltation whenever we speak about Him.  But already John is revealing that Jesus is no ordinary man.  And to these Jews, John’s words and actions had the ‘flavour of Messiah,’ so to speak.  His quote from Isaiah 40 and the fact that he was baptizing and his honouring of the one coming after him could really only be interpreted one way by his Jewish listeners.  But John does not leave it there with his ‘hints’ and ‘allusions.’  As we come to our text, he lays out the plain truth about who Jesus is and what Jesus came to do.


And those will be our two main points this morning.  To be a witness of Jesus we must tell people Who Jesus Is and What Jesus Came to Do.


  1. John kind of weaves this all together but we will pick out each part. So first of all, let’s see how John speaks about Who Jesus Is.


  1. In verse 30, John says, “This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’”
    1. And this is a reference back to v16. So this is something John must have said to the people over and over again as he was baptizing by the Jordan.  And when we looked at v16 we noted that John was conceived and born six months before Jesus.  Now, John and Jesus were around 30 years old at this time, so many people knew them.  John and Jesus were also relatives, so their family knew them.  And all of these people would have known that John was older than Jesus.  And when John would make this statement about Jesus and himself, word would have soon got around the crowd that John was older than Jesus.  So what did John mean by saying that Jesus was before John?  Well, there was only one way for these Jews to interpret John’s statement: And that was that Jesus existed before John, which means that Jesus is God.
    2. And indeed, John comes right out and says that in verse 34, “I have seen and testify that this is the Son of God.” In vv32-33 we learn that John only learned about the full identity of Jesus when Jesus was baptized.  We don’t read about the baptism of Jesus in John’s Gospel but it is recorded in Matthew, Mark, and Luke.  While John was baptizing Jesus, the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus in the form of a Dove and a voice from heaven said, “You are My Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”  And at that moment it was revealed to John that Jesus was the Son of God; the Promised Messiah.  And so John tells people who Jesus is.


  1. And we must do the same; we must tell people who Jesus is. Now, there is no one set way to do this.  There is no set formula that you must exactly follow.  You have the advantage of knowing the Apostles’ Creed, which nicely spells out the basics about Who Jesus is, and the Heidelberg Catechism, for example, which goes a little deeper and has all the Scripture references all nice and handy (Your forms and Confessions book is an excellent evangelism resource!  Have you got your own copy?  $6!).  But basically you need to tell them that Jesus was a human being, just like us, who lived 2000 years ago.  But He was also the Son of God.  For God so loved the world that He gave us His Son – Jesus.


  1. But secondly, John goes on to explain what Jesus came to do. And we see this in v29: “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!””
    1. Now, because Jesus is God, then all that God has done, and does, Jesus Christ does. So we could start here with creation and everything in the OT and His work of providence and we could go on for hours and hours.  And a person who does put his or her faith in the Lord Jesus is going to enjoy a lifetime and eternity of learning more and more about all that Jesus has done and is doing and will do.  But John focuses here on the very heart of the work of Jesus, which is His death on the cross.  “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”
      1. And think about those words, first of all, in terms of John’s Jewish audience. What would these words brig to mind?  First there is Abraham and his almost sacrifice of Isaac.  When they were walking to the place of sacrifice, Isaac said, “Father, I see wood and fire, but where is the lamb?”  And Abraham replied, “My son, God will provide the lamb.”  And God did!  But there is also Passover.  A lamb was to be killed and its blood was to be painted n the doorposts so that the Angel of death would pass-over that house.  But there is also the Day of Atonement – Two lambs – the blood of one sprinkled on the people and the other lamb that had the sins of the people placed on its head and is then sent away into the wilderness.
      2. And if you look over at 2:13, you will see that the Passover was very soon after this episode with John the Baptist. Can you guess how many lambs were killed in and around Jerusalem at Passover time in Jesus’ day?  One very reliable Jewish historian of around that time tells us that 256,000 lambs were killed!  And so, commentators suggest that there were probably flocks of sheep and lambs all around the area where John was baptizing.  These Jews knew that the Passover lamb died in the place of the people.  And John points to Jesus and says, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”


  1. Now, John did not know how Jesus would do this. But you and me and do!  And we have to tell people about this.  We have to tell them that Jesus died on the cross for the forgiveness of sins.  We have to tell them that they are sinners.  We have to explain what sin is and help them see that sin is their greatest problem.
    1. I was once travelling from Nelson to Christchurch and I picked up some hitchhikers. They were a French couple.  And they were your typical Western kind of people.  They were married but they didn’t think marriage was necessary.  They were passionate about organic food and the environment and poverty.  And if we could just get Green politicians in power all over the world, all would be well.  They believed in evolution and they liked the idea of God but just as a kind of higher power.  And they thought that people were basically good.  Evil is rape and murder and corporate greed and that sort of thing, which they were not guilty of.  So I started to ask them about feelings of jealousy and selfishness and lust.  What if one no longer loved the other?  What if one of them was the victim of a violent crime and the other had a knife or a gun?  How much of a bribe would it take for even a Green politician to become corrupt?  And you could see it dawn on them – The problem is in here (heart), in all of us.  The problem is sin.
    2. And beyond that, as I explained to them, the problem is that 10 out of every 10 people die. And then comes the Day of Judgment.  If you have kept the Ten Commandments, you will be welcomed into heaven.  Have you?  You cannot.  You deserve hell.
    3. So how can anyone be welcomed into heaven? Jesus died on the cross for the forgiveness of sins.  “For God so loved the world that He gave us His Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  Confess your sins, repent of your sins, and trust in Jesus.
      1. It is right there in John 1:12, “Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.”


So Brothers and Sisters, your task is to tell people Who Jesus is – He is the Son of God – and What He came to do – He came to die on the cross for the forgiveness of sins.


And that is all you have to do; just tell it!  Romans 1:16 says, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.”  God uses the sharing of the gospel to bring people to faith in Jesus.  That is beyond question.  What can be questioned is whether or not you are ashamed about the gospel?  Many Christians are happy to live a good life.  Many Christians are happy to talk about creation or moral issues with non-believers.  But they find it very hard to talk about Jesus and what He came to do.  Well, that is partly the devil at work.  He does not want you to share the gospel because he knows how God can use it!  But it is also our own fear that we don’t know enough or we are not sure if we can answer people’s questions or we worry that they might laugh at us or tell us to shut up.  Remember though that your job is to share the gospel.  It is the Holy Spirit’s job to convince.  But you know what?  He does!  And it is an amazing privilege to be a part of God bringing someone to salvation in Christ!


So a final word to those of you who here today who are not Christians.  And it comes from Revelation 3:20.  Jesus is saying to you right now: “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.”  Please accept the invitation of Jesus today.  Just pray to Him and in your own words, Say, Lord Jesus, I understand that I am a sinner.  I am sorry for my sins.  I believe that you died on the cross for the forgiveness of my sins.  Please cleanse me and rule my life forever.  That is how the Christian life begins.


May the Spirit of God help us to share the good news about Jesus.  Amen.