The Man Who Witnessed
John 1:6-8, 19-28
Grace and Peace to you from our Lord and Saviour, Jesus who is the one coming. Amen
John the Baptist in our gospel lesson this morning was called on the carpet by the religious rulers his asking him who he thinks he is preaching out in the, wilderness, this baptism of repentance.
They wanted to know who John thought himself to be, and why he thought he had the right to be doing this kind of preaching.
Can you picture the scene? There is John, this giant; rugged individual, standing front of these wimps, these religious rulers with their flowing robes, their leather bands around their heads and wrists and they are probably wagging their fingers at John screaming at him because they are angry with his kind of preaching and John is calmly and coolly standing there telling them all he is doing is preaching about one who is coming.
Can you just hear his words: “Hey, guys don’t get so upset I am not doing something so awful, NO, I am not the Christ, I am not Elijah, I am not a prophet, I am just a voice crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord as the Prophet Isaiah said. I am preparing the way for one who is mightier than I, whose sandal I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with Power, with the Holy Spirit.”
John gave a witness to the one who was coming. He bore witness to Jesus. He stood his ground, he told about what he saw as his mission, he told about the coming of Jesus’ public ministry. John the Baptist was called by God to bear witness to the coming of Jesus’ public ministry. He was called to be a voice of God in this world, he was called to prepare people for Jesus. And his calling from God was not a popular calling.
The religious rulers were angry with him, they could not understand where he got the authority, or the power, or who’s permission to do this kind of preaching: John didn’t fit the mold the people were looking for.
John wasn’t what you call the typical religious ruler of his day. But John was faithful to his calling, he was faithful because he knew he was called by God for this mission. He knew God would give him the strength to carry forth.
John came not to show how great he was, which by the way was the mold for the religious rulers; he came to show others another who was greater than he was. John came to bear witness to the light of the world. John was being used, not as the center of attraction, but as the light pointing to someone else.
Picture beautifull stained glass windows. The workmanship of the windows is beautiful, the pictures they display are superb. But without light, without sun light, shining through these windows, their beauty, will never be seen. The windows are a human creation. Its glory comes not from humans nor of itself alone but from the light that steams through them.
John the Baptist was a creation of God, but. without the light of Christ, he was nothing. His function was to let the light of Christ shine through him and help him point the way to Jesus. The windows point the way to Christ. Without light, without the message of Christ, the windows would be worthless. But because the creative sunlight of God lights them, and because they point beyond themselves to Christ, they are a beautiful work of art.
We are all created with a special purpose to somehow in our lives bear witness to Christ and his work of salvation.
In our everyday life, we are called by God to bear witness to Christ and His saving grace in our lives. maybe it is by example, maybe it is by a gentle touch as someone is feeling the brokenness of this world. There are as many ways for us to bear witness to Christ. No one way is right! But what is right is that you and I have to find that way to bear witness as John did in the wilderness.
There is a legend about a little shepherd boy who watched in amazement when the three wise-men brought their precious gifts to the Lord. His eyes filled with tears as he thought, if only a pearl would fall from the hand of a king, then I could go too. But I am ashamed to go; I have no gift for the Savior.
The little lad was about to turn and run for the hills. Suddenly an angel appeared before him and said, “Give a gift that is closest to your heart.” So he did. They say that the Bethlehem star gave an extra twinkle in the heavens as a ragged boy placed a faded blue sack beside the expensive gifts of the three wise kings of the Orient. The sack contained the things closest to his heart, a sea shell that whispered in his ears, a piece of rope used to climb trees, a jagged slingshot made from a forked limb and a butterfly preserved in candle-wax.
That little boy gave to Jesus a part of, himself. He gave to him those things that he was truly attached. He gave to Jesus not merely things but part of himself. As we think about what we give to Jesus; we can see what he wants this Christmas is a human gift, us, ourselves. God wants us to give to him a human gift, our lives and when we do that, then he will give us the power, the strength, the courage to be his stained glass windows in this world. He will give us the power to witness about his grace, his love, his mercy, his gift of salvation to this world.
God wants us to give hope to this world. He wants us to be people of hope. He wants us to be people who see beyond the brokenness of this world to His promise of Grace brought to this world as the Babe born in a manger on Christmas eve.
“In late 18th century Poland, the Kaiser’s forces were burning all the Jewish villages. One village had been burned and nothing was left standing. As the sun came up the next morning an old Jewish gentlemen pounded a few boards together, made a sellers stall and opened it up for business.
A young man walked past, stared in disbelief and asked, “What are you selling among these ruins.
The man smiled and said, “I am selling hope. You can sell water on a dry desert, so the place to sell hope is on the ash heap of destruction.”
As John the Baptist gave himself to God and the mission he was called to do, God is asking us to surrender ourselves so that he might use us for the mission he created us to do. We are all called to bear witness to the one who is coming as a babe in the manger. We are all called so that we might be a voice crying in the wilderness of this world, a voice crying so that people might not see us, but see the Christ, see the babe, see the precious gift of live that God has given to all people.
God is calling us to bring hope to despair, to bring comfort to those hurting, to bring hope to the grieving, to bring a measure of his grace into this world.
A closing story speaks about giving of ourselves in this world:
“A old cobbler named Conrad had a dream that the Lord was coming to visit him. So he washed the walls of his small shop and his shelves until they shined. He decorated his shop with holly and fir. He put milk and honey on his table to offer to his special guest. He sat down and waited.
As he was waiting, he saw a poor barefoot beggar walking in the rain outside his door. He felt sorry for the man and invited him and gave him a pair of shoes. His clean floor was now dirty from the rain and mud.
As he was about to clean it up, he noticed an old lady who was bent over carrying a heavy load of firewood. He invited her in to sit and rest, shared some of his food with her and walked with her, helping carry some of the wood.
When he returned to his shop, he thought of all that needed to be done. He began to clean again and hoped he had tome to find more food. Just then a knock at the door. He answered hurriedly and it was a small child crying lost and cold. He picked up the child, dried the tears, gave her something to drink, the cup of milk and walked her to her home down the street and around the corner.
He hurried back to the shop. He was too tired now to clean or find more food but he still waited. Evening came and he began to wonder if the Lord had forgot.
Then he heard a soft voice break the silence in that shop, ’Lift up your heart, for I kept my word. Three times I came to your friendly door, Three times my shadow was on your floor. I was the beggar with bruised feet; I was the woman you gave to eat, I was the lost child on that homeless street.”
Conrad smiled to himself, put his feet up on the table and settled back in his chair to pray and talk with the Savior so fair. ”
(Inspiration for this story is from How the Great Guest Came by Edward Markham.)
This message from Rev.Tim Zingale is brought to you by Grace Lutheran Church, Web and Park Street, Mountain View, Arkansas. For prayer or more information, contact Pastor Kenneth Taglauer by email: [email protected]net. A Pass it On Project , You can read more at Sermon Central