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Role Modeling

May 27, 2018

John 3:22-36

“Role Modeling”

 

Welcome: C.S. Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity: “The Church exists for nothing else but to draw men into Christ, to make them little Christs.  If they are are not doing that, all the cathedrals, clergy, missions, sermons, even the Bible itself, are simply a waste of time. . . . It is even doubtful, you know, whether the whole universe was created for any other purpose.”

 

Intro:  Have you ever had that person in your life that makes you a little jealous?  They do things just a little bit better than you.  They make you think, “I should have been there to do that!” And it could lead you to think about being in competition with the other person?  That person for me is Jody Cooley from Sutfin’s Funeral home.  In my opinion she’s the best in the business and when folks tell me what she’s done for them I often tend to think, “I should have been there!” We were talking about this and she was appalled.  I explained that it was only because I was preparing this sermon that it even came up and I assured her that I think she is amazing at her job and that it is different from my job.  We’re good.  But that attitude I had leads into today’s passage from the Gospel of John.  Let’s read the first part of this passage.  Verses 22-26.  

 

John paints a picture for us.  On one side of the water John the Baptist is baptizing people.  On the other side of the water Jesus is baptizing people.  Someone notices this dual baptism event and thinks, “Hey! Wait a minute! That Jesus fella is doing the same thing that John is doing and people might like him better!  We better tell John! He’s gonna be upset!!”  Good little troopers. But John does not respond the way they expect.  Instead he preaches them a sermon about whose place is whose in the grand scheme of things and he uses, as illustration, a wedding!

Just as bride arrives, the best man jumps in front of ??? and starts to lead the bride away. As he starts back down with the bride I yell “Stop!” And ask what is wrong with this picture.  

Then we repeat it and do it right.

This is what John is illustrating in his sermon here.  Let’s read verses 27-36.

John is trying to make a clear point.  He is saying to his disciples, “Guys.  This is not about me.”  John understood that his entire existence, his purpose for being, was to introduce the world to Jesus; to make Jesus’ name great; to draw attention to the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.  This is his purpose and he is fully aware of it.

 

And listen to what he particularly says about Jesus here:  He says that Jesus comes from God and is above all.  He says that Jesus speaks the very word of God.  He tells about the relationship Jesus has with the Father and that the Father loves his Son and has placed everything in his hands.

 

Wow.  If you ever need someone to vouch for you, you want John the Baptist!  He is making it clear that while Jesus is on earth he has all authority and power to act on God’s behalf.  That’s a good reason to listen to him, to obey him, to seek to understand him.  That’s why we might want to read the Gospels and the letters of Paul.  We might want to know what they tell us about Jesus who tells us about God.

 

Application:  So what are we supposed to do with this?  Do we walk away and say “Cool story bro.” Or do we respond.  And if so, how?

 

I think John gives us some good ideas.  Starting with the last verse, Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.  So the first response is to believe.  That’s pretty straight forward.  There are consequences for believing and for not believing.  There is no gray area.  You believe and receive forgiveness of sins, abundant life on earth and eternal life, OR you receive the wrath of God.  

 

Think about this for a moment.  Who in your close circle of friends do you want to see experience the wrath of God?  Without Jesus that’s what they get! So we need to consider if it’s worth the risk to share our love and knowledge of Jesus with them and invite them into his circle or leave them be. Do they even know the real consequences for choosing to not believe in Jesus?  And that’s doing more than believing that he exists.

 

The next thing is that we might want to accept Jesus’ testimony.  You know, all those things he says about God and what the kingdom is like and how we are supposed to live with God and one another?  It might be wise to accept those as facts, and not just suggestions. If you need a reminder, you could check out the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:1-12).  You could revisit what Jesus claims as the top two commandments: Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and love your neighbor as yourself.

 

And finally, we might want to adopt the same attitude as John who was not only content to be the best man rather than the groom but who also understood and lived out his purpose to point people to Jesus. Do you remember the C.S. Lewis quote I used at the beginning of the service?  Probably not, it was an hour ago.  Let me repeat it here: “The Church exists for nothing else but to draw men into Christ, to make them little Christs.  If they are are not doing that, all the cathedrals, clergy, missions, sermons, even the Bible itself, are simply a waste of time. . . . It is even doubtful, you know, whether the whole universe was created for any other purpose.”   If you are a Christian, you have a distinct purpose.  We can join John in saying: He must become greater; I must become less.”  I think too often we don’t share our faith because we think too much of our own reputation and not enough of Jesus who longs for all people to know him and walk with him.