Calvary Road Baptist Church

“WHAT MOVES YOU?”

John 1.29, 36, 37 

Let me describe the scene. John the Baptist had been preaching and baptizing converts at the South end of the Jordan River, not far from the ancient city of Jericho. Some commentators are of the opinion his ministry began in April in the year 25 A. D., while others are of the opinion his ministry began around October of that year.[1] Perhaps six months after John began his ministry of preparing the way of the Lord there appeared before him one day his cousin, the Lord Jesus Christ, the virgin-born Son of the living God, who had left Nazareth and walked to where His cousin was ministering, there to embark upon His public ministry. When He directed Cousin John to baptize Him there was a bit of push back, John reacting by suggesting that he should instead be baptized by the Lord Jesus Christ.[2] However, the Savior insisted, and so John complied, and as the Lord Jesus emerged from the immersion John the Baptist observed 

“the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”[3] 

Some are of the opinion that John the Baptist immediately reported to his audience what only he had seen and heard. However, my own opinion is that the Lord Jesus Christ immediately went into the Judean wilderness, without any comment from John the Baptist. There, for forty days without nourishment of any kind, the Lord Jesus Christ was tempted of the devil and successfully thwarted every effort by Satan to entice Him into committing a sin of any kind.[4]

Upon His return from the bleak Judean wilderness, the Lord Jesus Christ returned to the banks of the Jordan River to once more spend time with John the Baptist. I am persuaded that it was on this occasion, following His successful demonstration that though He could be tempted to sin He could not sin, that John the Baptist was given the privilege of announcing Him to the nation of Israel. Their long anticipated Messiah had come.

Perhaps the two cousins who had known each other since their childhood spent the evening communing, John asking questions and the Lord Jesus Christ answering as He fed His emaciated body and rested. After breaking the fast and getting a good night’s sleep, John 1.29 informs us, 

“The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” 

Who knows exactly how John the Baptist’s preaching changed after Christ’s baptism and now after His return from the wilderness, though it certainly must have changed. He had been preaching in anticipation of the Messiah’s arrival, and now the Messiah had arrived. Perhaps he rose the next morning and preached to the assembled multitudes who had gathered expecting him to preach, and when the Lord Jesus woke up, had a bite to eat, and approached John, the announcement was made: 

29 The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.

30 This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me.

31 And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water.

32 And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him.

33 And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.

34 And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God. 

We can only speculate about what transpired throughout the rest of that memorable day. Then, at sundown, the two retired for the evening. The next day, John 1.35-36, I would imagine John again woke up earlier than the Lord Jesus Christ, at which time he met with several of his disciples. Remember, the Lord Jesus Christ was still very weak from His ordeal in the wilderness and was no doubt still recovering. However, He eventually approached John: 

35 Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples;

36 And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God! 

Take a step back with me. John the Baptist preached the Gospel. We can be sure of that. Mark 1.1-5 reads, 

1 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God;

2 As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.

3 The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.

4 John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.

5 And there went out unto him all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins. 

John did not baptize just anyone. He baptized those who responded to his Gospel preaching with repentance and faith and who then demonstrated a changed life.[5] Those who turned from their sins to the Savior they were pointed to by John were converted, and he subsequently baptized them. Thus, John’s fruit was a number of converted and baptized believers in their anticipated Savior. However, their anticipated Savior had now come. John baptized Him and both saw and heard the witness of the Spirit and the Father. Now He has returned from a time of severe testing, a spiritual contest that demonstrated His impeccable nature as the sinless Son of the living God. So, what do the disciples of John the Baptist do in response to John’s two declarations on subsequent days, “Behold the Lamb of God!”? Verse 37: 

“And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus.” 

Two of John the Baptist’s disciples followed the Savior he had preached to them about? Two? Granted, the two did each find their brothers and their brothers brought the total of John the Baptist’s disciples who followed the Lord Jesus Christ to four. But four? Four? Over time the Savior gathered eight more men who became, along with those four, His apostles. But of all those who heard John preach the Gospel, who came to faith in connection with John’s ministry, and who were then baptized by John, only four followed the Lord Jesus Christ, becoming His disciples? Four? Four? Something is terribly wrong with this picture. Who knows how many came to faith under John the Baptist’s preaching? Dozens? Hundreds? Matthew 3.5-6 suggests there were a great many: 

5 Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan,

6 And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins. 

Thus, it seems we are dealing with a significant number of people, who had traveled considerable distances to hear John the Baptist’s preaching, and, satisfying him that they had truly repented of their sins and were converted, he subsequently baptized them. Numbers of them became disciples of John the Baptist, including the four men whose names we know: James and John, Andrew and Peter. Of all those who responded to John’s ministry, only four men from their number followed the Lord Jesus Christ? This is not good. How many of you would agree with me that not only is this not good, but it is bad? If you agree with me that only four of dozens, or perhaps four of hundreds, is a very sad response by those whose sins had been forgiven and who had been given eternal life, show your agreement with a hearty amen. You can do better than that. Amen? Let’s analyze this situation. Focus with me on three aspects of John the Baptist’s announcement, so we can evaluate just how bad it was that a sinner came to saving faith, confessed his sins in repentance, and was then baptized in a clear public profession of his newfound relationship with God, but did not actually follow the Savior of his sinful soul.

Rehearse with me what transpired: 

First, THE SPECTACLE 

“Behold.” 

“Behold!” 

First on one day and then on the very next day John the Baptist cries “Behold!” We can be pretty sure he did not say “Behold,” as if speaking to two coworkers in the break room at work. No. This, after all, is John the Baptist, who was fully conscious of the fact that he was the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy, and who said, 

“I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias.”[6] 

Therefore, we can be very sure that John’s habit when speaking in public to an assembled outdoor audience was to lift up his voice, to declare with the voice of conviction and authority, and that there was no mistaking by his auditors what he was saying to them.

The word translated “behold” is the little Greek word ide. Ide is significant because it is a word that was used when more than one person was addressed, was useful when the speaker wanted to grab his listener’s attention, and when he wanted them to take notice.[7] As well, it is a word spoken with an open mouth, so that when uttered lends itself to great volume. Thus, we have here a public speaker’s audience-attention-grabbing word. This is the audible version of loudly snapping your fingers, or a drummer’s crisp rim shot, or a bugler’s blast, or the tapping of a glass with a knife at a dinner party.

John is about to say something that is very, very important. It is the climax of his entire ministry, and he wants no one to miss the significance. It is so important he made the announcement on two consecutive days. “Behold!” Do I have your attention now? Good. Let us proceed. 

Next, THE SUBSTITUTE 

“Behold the Lamb of God.” 

“Behold the Lamb of God!” 

This announcement has such personal meaning to me because it was this phrase that God used to arrest my attention to the fact that not only must the Lord Jesus Christ be considered, He must be owned. He must be claimed. He must be embraced. He must be mine. And He must be yours. He must be trusted.

In many ways and concerning many things in my life I have been a dullard and on the whole quite dim. My life is filled with incidents in which I missed a social clue that I only appreciated later, or failed to grasp the significance of a fact until it was far too late to do me any good. But on that night in my apartment, just over forty-three years ago, my understanding was illuminated by God. I understood that identifying the Lord Jesus Christ as the Lamb of God was profoundly important, and that the Jewish audience hearing John’s declaration would have been impressed with the significance of his words.

Though I could not have explained what I then became dimly aware of to anyone else, the passing of four decades of study and reflection provide a bit of clarity in my thinking about this phrase, “the Lamb of God.” From Abraham substituting a ram provided by God as a substitute for Isaac, in Genesis chapter 22, to the significance of a lamb for sacrifice on the night of Passover, in Exodus chapter 12, to the subsequent use of sacrificial lambs to worship the God of Israel according to the proscriptions of the Law of Moses, there are three requirements that must have stuck in the minds of those who heard John say “Behold the Lamb of God”:

The lamb must be perfect. A lamb offered to God cannot be an ordinary lamb from the flock. A lamb offered to God cannot merely be the best lamb of the flock. A lamb offered to God can be no less than perfect. No blemishes were tolerated. No old wounds now perfectly healed leaving only a scar were tolerated. No imperfections of any kind were tolerated. The lamb that was offered to God as a sacrifice must be perfect, so extreme measures were taken to make sure such lambs were perfect. Why so? Because the lambs offered to God before the death of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary were types of the One which would come, the fulfillment of the type. The Lamb of God is perfect. This speaks of the Lord Jesus Christ being divine, being sinless, being in every way superlative.

The lamb must be prepared. God’s instructions for the preparation of a sacrificial lamb were explicit. Nothing was left to chance in the preparation of the offering to be presented to God. This, too, was a foreshadowing of the Lord Jesus Christ, Who was not only the perfect Lamb of God but was the prepared Lamb of God.[8]

The lamb must be presented. Too little attention is paid to this in our day, but the selection of a perfect lamb, prepared according to explicit instructions, is not at this point a sufficient sacrifice. Proper presentation of the shed blood of the sacrifice is required. Leviticus 10 records an episode in which Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, were slain by God for using strange fire to present an offering to the LORD. Because they were slain before properly presenting the blood of the sacrifice to the LORD the offering was not completed. Thus, the perfect lamb, properly prepared, must then be appropriately presented.

John the Baptist announced the arrival of the perfect lamb, the Lamb of God. The four Gospels record the preparation of the Lamb of God. The events of the Day of Pentecost show us that the requirements for the Lamb of God being properly presented to God were met in full, showing that the Lord Jesus Christ completed His mission of substituting on my behalf, the Just for the unjust that He might bring me to God.[9] 

Finally, THE SALVATION 

“which taketh away the sin of the world.” 

A. T. Robertson correctly observes about this phrase, 

“The future work of the Lamb of God here described in present tense as in 1Jo 1:7 about the blood of Christ. He is the Lamb of God for the world, not just for Jews.”[10] 

When John the Baptist uttered these words, they were prospective, prophetic, predictive. From our perspective two thousand years later we recognize from the completed revelation of God’s Word and from the undeniable consensus of Christian history that what John the Baptist predicted has come to pass. Recognizing this, it is time for us to drill down on the application of John’s declaration to our present situation:

What about your sins? Perhaps you had heard the story of John Wesley’s trip across the Atlantic Ocean when he was queried by a Moravian Christian during a violent storm. Showing no confidence of his soul’s salvation in the face of the storm’s danger, and being dressed in Church of England ecclesiastical garb that showed he was a priest, the Moravian nevertheless approached him and asked, “Do you know Jesus Christ?” To which Wesley indignantly replied, “He is the Savior of the world.” After which the Moravian asked, “Yes, but is He your personal Savior?” That brief conversion led to John Wesley’s conversion back in London after failing as a missionary to the British colony of Georgia. Let me turn that Moravian’s question to you. You know Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Sacrifice for sins Who died on the cross of Calvary and then rose from the dead. But is He your personal Savior? Have you trusted Him? Do you trust Him? Since you cannot save yourself from the penalty of your soul’s sins, what legitimate alternative is there to trusting Christ besides suffering an eternity of torment in the lake of fire?

Moving on, what about another’s sins? Though your sins are not forgiven, you certainly know someone whose sins are forgiven. Perhaps it is your father or your mother. Perhaps your brother or sister. Perhaps a son or a daughter or a friend or acquaintance. Though no one who knows Christ is sinlessly perfect, would you suggest the Christian you know is delusional? Is that Christian you know completely wrong about the salvation of his eternal and undying soul? If the Christian you know is not a fake, is not a con, is not a deluded fool who has been tricked, then he has been saved from his sins by Christ. Though imperfect, that person does enjoy a relationship with the Savior and is bound for heaven in the next life, while you are doomed. Do you have any idea what it will be like for you in the next life? Want to know? After Church I will demonstrate to you what your eternity will be like if you die without Christ, using this (referring to a Butane lighter aflame). This will show us if you are truly ready to meet your fate in the hereafter. I say that to say this: This life has been given to you by God for only one purpose, to prepare for eternity. I urge you to set aside the lies and tricks of the mind that suggest you have time or falsely comfort you into thinking that being unsaved is no big deal. It is a very big deal. I urge you to consider the claims of Christ and to turn to Him today, now, at this moment.

Then what? Think back with me two thousand years ago to the banks of the Jordan River when a group of men and women heard John the Baptist lift up his voice and proclaim, “Behold the Lamb of God.” How did they respond? The point is that except for four men we know of no one responding. How very sad. How very tragic. How profoundly ungrateful. What missed opportunity to serve God, to bear fruit for the Savior, to win crowns to be awarded at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Considering what those who had the opportunity to do but did not do, do you think they did the right thing by not doing anything? Does anyone do the right thing by not doing anything? Let’s say you are a believer in Jesus Christ, that your sins are forgiven, and you have been baptized. Now what? Is God’s plan for you to coast the rest of the way? No. What comes now is service, ministry, evangelism, and doing what you can by God’s grace to bring someone else to Christ. This according to Ephesians 2.10, Paul writing, 

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” 

Will you do that? “How do I do that, pastor?” Here is one suggestion. Come back this afternoon at 2:00 PM and link arms with us to reach boys and girls with our Sunday School ministry. Come to the VBS meeting after Church tonight to see what is going on and how you might be able to help. 

Four out of dozens or perhaps hundreds is not good, is it? Four out of those John the Baptist brought to faith and repentance and then baptized is downright lousy when you reflect a bit on it. I wonder how the rest lived with themselves? When they heard about the Lord’s use of Peter and Andrew and James and John over the years following, I wonder what thoughts ran through their minds?

Honestly? I don’t want to know because I never want to be among those who did nothing, whose names were never known, those who for some reason thought they had better things to do than serving God. As your pastor, neither do I want that for you. My aspiration for you is fruitfulness, faithfulness, joy unspeakable and full of glory, and commendation for you from the Savior at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Hence the title of this sermon, “What Moves You?” Does John Baptist lifting up his voice and saying “Behold” get your attention? How about when he says, “Behold the Lamb of God?” Or how about when he says “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world”? Does any of that move you to step up and follow your Savior? Are you like the four? Or are you like the rest? How you respond will tell not only you but everyone else as well.

__________

[1] Edward Reese, The Reese Chronological Bible, (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 1977), page 1260.

[2] Matthew 3.14

[3] Matthew 3.15-17

[4] Matthew 4.1-11; Mark 1.12-13; Luke 4.1-13; Hebrews 4.15

[5] Matthew 3.7-12

[6] Matthew 3.3; Mark 1.3; Luke 3.4; John 1.23

[7] Bauer, Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature, (Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 2000), page 466.

[8] Zephaniah 1.7; Galatians 4.4; Hebrews 10.5

[9] 1 Peter 3.18

[10] A. T. Robertson, Word Pictures In The New Testament, Vol V, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1932), page 23.

Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org