The Book of Luke, John the Baptist, Part VII – Lesson 29
John the Baptist was, indeed, a man of deep humility.
And if you are looking for an example of a servant, John is a model of servanthood and that model is totally based upon humility.
His life was testimony to the fact that John believed with all his heart that, “Jesus Christ must increase, and John must decrease”.
As John the disciple writes about John the Baptist in the book of John:
John 3:28-30, Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him. 29He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled. 30He must increase, but I must decrease.
John’s heart declared that Jesus Christ must become more important and that he must become less important.
And notice John’s attitude about the lessening of his importance and the increasing of the importance of Jesus Christ.
John says this very important statement.
As this increasing of the importance of Jesus Christ and the lessening of my importance takes place, “this my joy therefore is fulfilled.”
As Paul said in Col 1:18, And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.
A true servant is interested in serving others and enjoys that service.
There is a filling of joy in the heart of the true servant.
Joy comes to John the true servant by decreasing as the Christ increases.
So here is the formula for joy.
If you have a joy problem it is because you do not follow this formula.
As you decrease, as you are crucified with Christ, as the Lord increases in your life joy comes to you.
And this should be what happens in the heart of every Christian for it comes from a humble heart!
A heart that lets God increase as the wants and desires and ambitions of the heart decrease.
It is interesting to note these words in the context of the book of Acts where we see the transition from the dispensation of law to the dispensation of grace and truth.
It is as if the dispensation of law is compared to the friend of the bridegroom whereas the bridegroom is the dispensation of grace and truth.
So what takes place in the book of Acts takes place first in the lives of John and Jesus Christ.
As the law decreases, grace and truth increase.
Paul in the book of Romans compares law to the school master who brings the child to Grace.
The law was that very thing, designed to be that which was to bring the sinner to Christ.
As the friend of the bridegroom is incidental to the wedding and the school master is incidental to the teacher both soon depart the scene but Christ continues forever.
It was John’s purpose to be the friend of the bridegroom and to be the school master but when those functions were met then John fades from the scene.
John who is from the dispensation of law must decrease because Jesus Christ who is Truth and Grace is now present.
John has brought the sinner to Christ and when that takes place John leaves the scene as the law leaves the scene when grace and truth makes his entrance.
So John clearly was the last of the prophets under the dispensation of law.
And as such John was of the same frame as the Old Testament prophets who spoke of the future, of the Kingdom of God, of the Messiah, and of “things to come” in two different ways.
The prophets spoke of the coming of the Lord both as a time of judgment, and as a time of blessing.
They spoke of Messiah both as the great King and as the Suffering Servant, who would reign from the throne of David, and who would die for the sins of the world.
In the same way, John’s ministry contained these two themes, these two messages.
One was of judgment, which is of the law, the other of God’s grace and salvation, which is of Jesus Christ.
The one was an exhortation to keep the Law of God, the other the promise that God would provide salvation apart from man’s attempt at the keeping of the Law.
Both were needed, for the Law revealed to men that they could not keep the Law and that they desperately needed a savior.
The one message was that Israel must prepare the way for the Lord, the other was that the Lord would be the way for men.
So John proclaimed, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
And Jesus said in John 14:6, I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me.
John, in calling for repentance, called for the forsaking of our own way which does not and never will please God and yielding to the way that God had prepared in his Son who is the Way.
Again humility and repentance comes to the fore.
Humility and Repentance are twin sons. They always go together.
Humility and repentance say “My way is wrong, God’s way is right.”
That conclusion requires humility, it requires a low view of oneself and one’s conclusions about oneself.
Pride has to be kicked out but pride can only be kicked out by the grace of God.
Unless you have come to the conclusion that you are wrong and that God is right you haven’t repented for this conclusion will bring a man or a women to bow the knees of their heart before God.
But it soon became evident that Israel would not repent.
How could the Jews see themselves in this manner?
Were they not the sons of Abraham?
Were they not God’s peculiar people?
Pride in their heritage, pride in their particular station in life as Jews kept them from the truth and they would not let go of their pride.
So many of those who came to John for baptism left without ever entering the water for they were not fit and refused to become fit for they believed not John.
We can read this in: Luke 7:29, And all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John. 30But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him.
They had heard John’s commandment to bring forth fruits worthy of repentance and they could not! They had none to bring!
Thus, the kingdom of God was rejected, along with her King!
All of this was in fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies and resulted in the fulfillment of the prophecies concerning the suffering of the servant for the sins of man.
John’s one ministry as a prophet—calling Israel to repentance and to the keeping of the Law — was a failure, as all other prophets had failed.
Israel would not repent, even with the call of the greatest of the prophets.
Remember the Lord’s scathing condemnation of the scribes and Pharisees in Matthew 23:
Matt. 23:29-39, Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, 30And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. 31Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. 32Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. 33Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? 34Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: 35That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias (bar-akh-ee'-as), whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. 36Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation. 37O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! 38Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. 39For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.