Formal Religion Conflicts With A Fresh Move Of Almighty God-Word from Scotland
I this opening Chapter of the Gospel of John, Almighty God is speaking through a peculiar preacher who down at the Jordan River. He was drawing great crowds and he was immersing them in the waters of the river as a sign that they seriously wanted to clean up their lives.
This had never happened before and that usually causes trouble. When God begins to move in a new way and do something different and something real – that can be upsetting.
It must have been powerful preaching. Can you imagine some of the reports that must have got back to Jerusalem? In Jerusalem, there was quite a commotion, and the religious leaders sent a delegation to investigate John’s ministry and to examine him.
Here we see a direct confrontation between the dry formal religion of men, and fresh move of the Spirit of the Living God. There is conflict.
Who are you? Who do you think you are? And, his answers become briefer. “I am not.” Later Jesus was to say “I am”.
John humbles himself and exalts Jesus Christ. (John 3:30.)
I am only a voice crying in the wilderness, but coming soon is the Lord.
There were more questions. Why do you baptise? If you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor a prophet, and if you are not a proper religious minister, why are you baptising? Why are you doing what you are doing?
Those whom you would think would see spiritual things clearly are often most blind.
One of the most humiliating tasks a slave had to do was to unloose the shoes of his master. John is saying, that the One who is coming after me is so mighty that I am not worthy of taking off his shoes. John is saying to everyone – to crowds of needy sinners – to religious leaders, who were also very needy sinners – “Don’t speak about me. I want to point you to Jesus.” Don’t get too centred on me. There is another one coming.
Do not be too concerned about the comments of the preacher, but do be concerned about what is in the Book and what is on the table, and by that I mean bread and wine.
The next day, John saw Jesus coming to him. After the confrontation and after the conflict, which he handled so ably, Jesus comes to him.
“Behold! Look! Pause! Pay attention! That’s Him! Stop! Gaze upon this unique sight! He is the One I have been speaking about. He will take away the sin of the world.”
This Lamb or this ‘ram’ of God, like any other sacrificial animal, would die. Already John is pointing to the death of Jesus Christ, and its significance. Do remember that the sacrificial lamb was a one year old lamb. We have portrayed the sacrificial lamb as a little ‘cuddly’ newly born animal. No. It was a one year old ram.
Jesus Christ was no soft ‘cuddly’ Saviour and if we portray and preach that type of Jesus no wonder men turn away. Jesus was very much a man’s man and it is the task and duty and responsibility of the Church to portray Him accurately. Peter and John and Paul, and the others, certainly did that at the beginning and this is our calling in these critical times.