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The Testimony Of John


John 1:19-23

 Here in the Gospel of John, the word “Jesus” and the word “Christ” is found 170 times.

Many other signs therefore Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.

Now, here in chapter 1, in the first 18 verses John introduces the Word to us and John says that the Word is the eternal God, the Almighty Creator in whom is life and light, and who came in the flesh.

But now, starting in vs. 19, in keeping with his purpose for writing this gospel, and to confirm what John has said about Jesus, John gives us the testimony of John the Baptist.

So, let’s look at what John the Baptist has to say about Jesus. Look with me at vs. 19 again.

And this is the witness of John when the Jews (this is the first time we see this term “Jews” used by John; and John will use this term 70 times in this gospel and  normally when John  uses this word “Jews”, he doesn’t use it to refer to the people of Israel as a whole. He uses it to refer to a particular group who is hostile toward Jesus).

And this is the witness of John when the Jews sent to him priests and Levites from Jerusalem (vs. 24 tells us that these priests and Levites were sent from the Pharisees. When it came to their religion, the Pharisees were very legalistic and strict and they often bound things on others that they themselves would not do. And, we can only imagine how intimidating this delegation of priests and Levites must have been in their long robes and priestly garb).

But these priests and Levites come from Jerusalem to John the Baptist and they ask him, “Who are you?” 20 And he confessed, and did not deny, and he confessed, “I am not the Christ.”

 But they ask him, “Who are you?” and he says, “I am not the Christ.”

Now, we have talked about this in a previous lesson, but one of the reasons that John the writer of this gospel gives this testimony of John the Baptist that “he is not the Christ” is because some of John the Baptists’ disciples would continue to follow him.

21 And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” (Malachi 4:5-6; God said He would send Elijah before the great and terrible day of the Lord) And he said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” (Deut. 18:15-19 – God promised that another prophet would come)  And he answered, “No.” 22 They said then to him, “Who are you, so that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?”

 Now, vs. 23. John says, “I am a voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as Isaiah the prophet said.”

Vs. 24 Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. (The Pharisees considered themselves to be the spiritual leaders of Israel and here John is, drawing large crowds of fellow Jews and baptizing them and the Pharisees want to know about him.)

25 And they asked him, and said to him, “Why then are you baptizing, if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” (By what authority are you baptizing these people?)

Baptism was not a new practice in Judaism. It was a regular rite in the admission of converts from other religions.

26 John answered them saying, “I baptize in water, but among you stands One whom you do not know.

Vs. 26 He says, “I baptize in water, but among you stands One whom you do not know. 27 “It is He who comes after me, the thong of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.”

 Now, contrast John’s words to some of our attitudes when we pray.

  Look at vs. 29: The next day he saw Jesus coming to him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

Vs. 30  “This is He on behalf of whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’ 31 “And I did not recognize Him (John knew Jesus; they were second cousins; at the time though John didn’t know that He was the Messiah) but in order that He might be manifested to Israel, I came baptizing in water.” 32 And John bore witness saying, “I have beheld the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and He remained upon Him. (God gave John the Baptist the sure sign that Jesus was God’s Son.)

 33 “And I did not recognize Him, but He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, ‘He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the one who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.’ 34 “And I have seen, and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”

 So, this is John’s testimony; and in essence it is God’s testimony; and John knows that Jesus is God’s Son and the question is, do you and I?