John 1:6-9, 15: No Longer Need We Fear

In life, we face many tormentors, whether in school or those of the spiritual kind—sin and shame, guilt and blame.  The worst tyrant in town is the Devil, who is a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44).  With His deceit and slander, He seeks to destroy us, taking all the children of men as his prisoners.  So we run away and flee in fear.

So, God responded.  “A man came, sent from God, named John, who came as a witness, to testify to the light.  Through him, all people might believe” (John 1:6-7).  Though the demonic Liar hounds us with his accusations and half-truths, God sends us a man, John the Forerunner.  The Forerunner’s mandate is to point us to this Light so we may believe.  For the Light chases away the lies of the darkness.

So, who or what is this mysterious light?  Ah, Jesus solves this puzzle.  For He illuminates to all who He is through His words, “I am the light of the world!” (John 8:12).

Let’s listen to more.  This Preparer is not the light; no, he came to direct all within earshot to this light.  For the real light coming into the world gives light to everyone (John 1:8-9).  The message is simple—John isn’t the light or the focus.  No, he is the messenger pointing to something better!

Never shining the spotlight on himself, John is guiding others to Christ.  The work of preparing the way is his duty.  For Christ is the fulfillment of the Old Covenant, not him.  The One who comes after John ranks higher than him.  So, John blares out to all, “He must increase, and I must decrease” (John 3:30).

To prepare the people for His coming, John exerts his every fiber.  “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven,” Jesus, “is at hand” (Matthew 3:2).  The rough-hewn man is directing his bony finger toward his divine cousin.  “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes all the world’s sins away” (John 1:29).  Never magnifying himself, this John chooses to profess what he is not.  For when others ask him to identify himself, he casts aside all misunderstandings, “I am not the Messiah” (John 1:20).

So, like John, our Lord’s Church is to preach Christ, not ourselves.  So many congregations are in the habit of shameless, self-promotion.  Check out what a delightful church we are.  Oh, catch what we are doing.  Come to this exciting, happening place, without nary a mention of our Lord.

The Church’s mission now degenerates into, not preparing others for the heavenly life to come, but institutional preservation by attracting more customers.  Every one of us is prone to this.  Don’t we all love to fill our pews?  Of course!  Why?  To rejoice in more people believing in Jesus, who come here to welcome Him as He fortifies their faith.

The new man in Christ yearns for this, while the old fallen flesh craves for success by human standards.  The Old Adam wants his church his way.  So, the contaminated nature proclaims himself, what he desires and covets.  The saving Messiah is a little too messy, a bit offensive, and the truth is dreary and old.

Come to this congregation, and we’ll make you into a better you.  Follow our three-step program, and you’ll experience the difference.  Trust us.  So the Church falls into the trap of preaching herself, not Christ.

The Church, which preaches herself is dead.  Though the one, which declares Christ for our salvation, lives in her incarnate, risen Lord.  What do you need from eternity’s perspective?  Christ Jesus!  The exact proclamation the Lord’s announcer is delivering.

So, when the Liar from Hell is rubbing your face in your sinful shame and guilty blame, don’t go groping for help in all the wrong places.  Oh, how easy to follow others, rely on your accomplishments, or some church program or something else.

Only one Light in this world defeats your demons and darkness.  This is John’s message.  The Light is Jesus.  Like also the congregation, the person who preaches himself, who stares within for reassurance, is also dead.  Not so the Christian who gazes beyond to Jesus, for he lives by and in His flesh-and-blood Redeemer.

“In the beginning, the Word existed.  The Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1).  “The Word became flesh” (John 1:14).  The true God in human flesh engages against the Deceiver on our behalf!

In the other three Gospels, we discover Jesus casting out many devils and demons.  Not so in John’s Gospel.  For he only writes of one exorcism.  “Now the prince of this world is cast out” (John 12:31).  So concise and direct.  The one Devil is defeated and done!  A verse later, Jesus divulges how, “As for Me, if I am lifted up from the earth [on the cross], I will draw all people to Myself” (John 12:32).

The Lord Jesus fights for your salvation.  Yes, the odds may be against you.  Perhaps, your job is not going well, and your boss undercuts you.  In the morning, you creak out of bed and you can tell your health is going downhill.  To live in this corrupted reality requires grit and stamina.

No matter what may come your way, your Lord battles for you.  Yes, you.  So, you still carry the baggage of a broken past and suffered abuse at the hand of another.  The wreckage of aging continues unabated.  An absentee dad filled you with emptiness while growing up.  The job, which earns your income, is teetering on a shaky cliff.

The God descended from heaven shields and also protects you.  Are you a you?  Of course!  So, rejoice, because since you are, He struggles against Satan and defeats him for you.  All the bad you experience here are the symptoms.  The real enemy is hidden, wreaking havoc as the ruler of this dark world.

So, on a God-forsaken cross, your Rescuer died, affirmed by His resurrection and confirmed by His empty tomb.  The Day is coming when Jesus will destroy all the devilish forces besieging you.

The Savior doesn’t stop with what He promises in the future.  No.  In any circumstance and time, you can call the God of all creation on His private line.  How so?  In the prayer Jesus gave to His disciples, He offers you a hotline to His Father.  Through the words He provides you to pray, you can bring your every need to Him.  Yes, now you can unload what bothers you, even if you find your own words wanting.

Still, more reveals itself when we follow where John the Gospel writer directs us to go.  In chapter 4, he voices Jesus to be superior to Jacob.  In the next, he informs us about the prophesied Son, the one mightier than Moses.  In John 8, we learn our Lord is above Abraham.  Though remarkable, the motherlode still awaits.  To a group at the Temple, Jesus drops the earth-quaking bomb, “You pore over the Scriptures because you think in them you possess eternal life.  No, they testify about me” (John 5:39).

What does this mean?  The Bible is useless if you don’t find Jesus in its pages.  For He is Fulfiller of the entire Old Covenant—with its prophets, priests, and kings; with its Tabernacle, Temple, and Torah.  So, John makes ready the way, witnessing and crying out, for no power or authority transcends Jesus.  No one is wiser, stronger, or more loving than Him.

Still, we find ourselves running and hiding, despite what He says or does.  Why?  Because what we encounter here in this fallen world is more real to our senses than what Jesus tells us.  So, we let our sight and experiences overrule our faith.

Here’s why.  The bully on the block is after us—the inventor of the lie, the deceiving one himself.  Be assured—you don’t need to run scared through life.  None of us needs to do so.  For God sent a man named John—a forerunner to point us to Jesus.

Later, John will confess he is not worthy to untie the strap of the Messiah’s sandal (John 1:27).  Such a menial duty, a task from which many slaves received a release.  So, we recognize John is admitting he is less than a slave to his Master and Lord.  Such as dramatic image of unworthiness, which is an admission of sinfulness because sin makes one undeserving.

Still, this is not the language of despair.  For though we are unworthy, “Worthy is the slaughtered Lamb to receive power, wealth, wisdom, and might, and honor, glory, and blessing” (Revelation 5:12).  The sacrificial Lamb, Jesus, makes us holy with His holiness.  By His blood, He ransomed us for our Father above.

Now, Jesus creates us into His people from every language and nation.  Only He brings us into a kingdom, with whom we will reign on the Last Day.  All this is true because He wore our bone and body, our skin and substance, from the virgin’s womb, born in Bethlehem.

The mission, message, and mandate of the Lord’s messenger are all about Jesus, who is your warrior from above.  So also with the John, who wrote the fourth Gospel, as he later reveals.  “These things are written so you may believe Jesus is the Christ, God’s Son, and by believing you will have life in his name” (John 20:31).

So, Your Lord grants you more.  In His Word, He draws near to you, like He is doing do in this sermon, reassuring you with what He wants to give you.  In a few moments, He will come to you, not in sound waves, but incarnate and present in physical matter.  In a mysterious union, He will join with you, where His body and blood will enter inside you, giving you what you require to stand against your spiritual bullies.

So stop running away, driven by fear and sin.  Turn around, back to your merciful Savior.  For He is here, coming to you now with His words of peace.  Soon, He will grace you with and in His Meal.  With God for you and in you, you realize what He gives you and what awaits you.  In Him, comes true peace.  Amen.