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 Sermons on important subjects by Rev. Paul C. Jong

 

The Truth That John the Baptist Testified



<John 1:19-28>

Now this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, ‘Who are you?’ He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, ‘I am not the Christ.’ And they asked him, ‘What then? Are you Elijah?’ He said, ‘I am not.’ ‘Are you the Prophet?’ And he answered, ‘No.’ Then they said to him, ‘Who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?’ He said: ‘I am
      ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
       Make straight the way of the LORD,’
as the prophet Isaiah said.’

Now those who were sent were from the Pharisees. And they asked him, saying, ‘Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?’ John answered them, saying, ‘I baptize with water, but there stands One among you whom you do not know. It is He who, coming after me, is preferred before me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose.’ These things were done in Bethabara beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing.”


John 1:6-7 says, “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe.” Here in this passage, ‘John’ is not the author of the Gospel of John, the Apostle, but John the Baptist who was God’s promised Elijah to come. As it is prophesied in Malachi 4:5, we can understand how the Gospel Truth is being witnessed by John the Baptist.

As we can see from John the Baptist’s witness in today’s text and in the following witness of Jesus, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29), John testified that Jesus was the Lamb of God and the Savior of all sinners, who bore all the sins of the world on Himself.

By being baptized by John the Baptist, Jesus took all the sins of the world onto Himself and brought all those sins onto the Cross. Jesus did not testify about Himself, saying “I am the Son of God. I bear all the sins of the world.” Rather, John the Baptist witnessed to us that Jesus took all the sins of the world through the baptism He received. Thus, Jesus became our Savior by bearing all those sins of the world onto the Cross.

Just as John the Baptist did not testify about himself, Jesus did not testify about Himself either. Rather, He let His disciples witness about Him. We cannot help but believe in Jesus in our hearts because of the witness of John the Baptist. Our Lord has told us that we receive the remission of sin not because we have experienced special miracles and wonders but because we are be born again by the faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit that we acquired through the witness of John the Baptist. We become God’s children by believing in our hearts that God has cleansed all our sins through the gospel of the water and the Spirit.



What Is the Light of Truth?

John 1 is testifying about the Light of Truth. Here the Light is the Truth signifies that Jesus has saved all the sinners from their sins by taking those sins through His baptism received from John the Baptist and then by shedding His blood on the Cross. John the Baptist witnessed that Jesus is the Son of God, the King of kings, the Creator, the Master of all of humanity, and the perfect Savior of all sinners. He witnessed that Jesus our Savior took all the sins of this world by being baptized at the Jordan River and that He bore those sins onto the Cross where He vicariously received all the judgments for those sins in our place. By means of His baptism and His bloodshed, Jesus delivered us all from all our sins. And whoever believes in Jesus as the Savior through John’s testimony is delivered from all of his or her sins and becomes one of God’s children.

The greatest blessing for humanity is the gift of salvation by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit given by Jesus. Because John the Baptist testified that Jesus was the true Savior, we are able to receive the full remission of sin by believing in our hearts that Jesus is our Savior who came by the gospel of the water and the Spirit. As such, the witness of John the Baptist has played a crucial part in the salvation of all sinners from their sins. There may be some people who are opposed to this idea; however, God predetermined John to be a witness to Jesus.

John the Baptist witnessed for Jesus as the Lamb of God prophesized in the Old Testament. “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) This testimony was given the day after John baptized Jesus by laying his hands on him. You may know that Aaron the High Priest had to lay both his hands on the head of a live goat to offer all the sins of Israelites to God on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16:20-21).

As a matter of fact, John the Baptist could testify like this because he witnessed the Holy Spirit descending like a dove and alighting upon Jesus when He came out of the water and he heard what God the Father witnessed of Him from heaven, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased”(Matthew 3:16-17). We know this because John the Baptist testifies about it later in the following words. “I did not know Him; but that He should be revealed to Israel, therefore I came baptizing with water” (John 1:31). The reason John the Baptist baptized Jesus was to witness that Jesus was the Savior of all sinners, the Son of God, and the Lamb of God who took all our sins onto Himself. To reveal to the world that Jesus is the Savior, he had to baptize by laying his hands on the head of Jesus in the water of the Jordan River.



John the Baptist Had to Give the Baptism to Jesus

The reason John the Baptist baptized Jesus was to transfer all the sins of all sinners to Jesus. In other words, the reason Jesus was baptized was to take all the sins of every person who has lived and will live in this world.

The Scripture passage from Matthew 3:13 to 3:15 says, “Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. And John tried to prevent Him, saying, ‘I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?’ But Jesus answered and said to Him, ‘Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then he allowed Him.”

While John the Baptist was baptizing other people, Jesus unexpectedly came to the Jordan River to be baptized by him. Seeing Him, John the Baptist was startled and said, “I should receive the baptism from You. How, then, do You come to me to be baptized?” However, Jesus replied, “I must take all the sins of all people by receiving the baptism by you. Thus, you must baptize Me.” Then, Jesus was baptized at the Jordan River by John the Baptist, who testifies about Him.

Here comes one of the most important passages for our salvation: “Permit it to be so now for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15). By being baptized this way, Jesus took all the sins of the world onto Himself and fulfilled all the righteousness of God. Just when Jesus received the baptism from John the Baptist, all the sins of this world were transferred onto Jesus. Now, everyone in this world may not keep any sin in their hearts anymore because Jesus fulfilled all of God’s righteousness by being baptized by John the Baptist and taking all the sins of the world onto Himself.

The baptism Jesus received from John the Baptist was God’s planned method of transferring all the sins of all sinners onto Jesus. In order for Jesus to take all the sins of this world onto Himself, Jesus had to be baptized by John the Baptist. The baptism Jesus received from John the Baptist was an indispensable process for the salvation of all sinners from all their sins. After He was baptized, Jesus bore all the sins of this world during his three years of public ministry, until He received the judgments for all those sins on the Cross, died and was resurrected from the dead. In this way, Jesus became the true Savior who took care of all the sins of all sinners.



Is John the Baptist a Descendant of the House of Aaron?

John the Baptist was born in this world six months earlier than Jesus, and was born to the house of Aaron, the first High Priests of the Old Testament times. He was born to a priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah among the descendants of Aaron the High Priest.

Then, why did God send John the Baptist into this world? It was to appoint him the task of transferring all the sins of this world onto Jesus. God send John the Baptist into this world for that purpose. And God is testifying that John the Baptist was the very one who transferred all the sins of this world onto Jesus.

Therefore, God planned that people would receive their salvation from all of their sins by believing in the witness of John the Baptist. Thus, the reason that God sent John the Baptist to this world six months prior to Jesus was to appoint him as the High Priest of all of humanity – just like there were High Priests before him in the Old Testament times – who would transfer all the sins of this world onto Jesus. That is, the two missions of John the Baptist were to transfer all the sins of the world onto Jesus and to witness the Truth of salvation to all sinners that Jesus bore all of their sins.

The reason God has left those of us who have received the remission of sin in this world is for us to witness this gospel Truth just like John the Baptist did. Thus, God has entrusted John the Baptist with the ministry to witness as is written in Isaiah:

“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
        "Prepare the way of the LORD;
        Make His paths straight.
        Every valley shall be filled
        And every mountain and hill brought low;
        The crooked places shall be made straight
        And the rough ways smooth;
       And all flesh shall see the salvation of God’” (Look 3:4-6).
This means that everyone can receive the remission of sin by believing in their hearts in Jesus Christ, who came by the gospel of the water and the Spirit.

John the Baptist is continuously testifying that Jesus is the Lord and Savior: He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.' And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God” (John 1:34-35). The Holy Spirit had already taught him this beforehand.  So when Jesus asked John to baptize Him, John recognized who He was and transferred all the sins of the world unto Jesus. To transfer all the sins of the world was the purpose of Jesus’ baptism received from John the Baptist.



The Two Kinds of Baptism That John the Baptist Gave: To Jesus and To the Israelites

The first objective of John the Baptist in baptizing people was to have the Israelites repent and turn away from worshipping foreign idols and return to God. But, the purpose of the baptism he gave to Jesus is different. It was to cleanse all the sins of the world by transferring them to Jesus. Through the baptism Jesus received from John, God transferred all the sins of the world onto Jesus by a proper process, and through His righteousness completed the remission of sin for all sinners when Jesus received the judgments of those sins in our place on the Cross.

When we the righteous receive the baptism after receiving our salvation, we are confessing the faith that “I have been delivered from all my sins because Jesus received the baptism from John the Baptist.” We are born again by believing that Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away all the sins of the world and that Jesus completely eliminated all the sins of all sinners by taking them with the baptism He received.

Jesus is the Lamb of God who has taken all the sins of the world. Jesus came to this world about 2000 years ago, took all the sins of the world, and died on the Cross to expunge all those sins. When we mention the sins of this world, what are the limits of these sins? All the sins of the world refer to all the sins from the beginning of humanity to the last days of humanity. It has been 2004 years since AD 1, and the sins being committed today are included. By the world, we mean everything from the very beginning to the very end, and all the sins that take place in between are all the sins of the world. Dear fellow believers, we must understand the words “the sins of the world” carefully. John the Baptist proclaimed, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) He is saying, “Look, people! That Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, the Son of God who bears all the sins of this world, is the Savior of all sinners. That Person has borne all the sins of the world by being baptized from me. By bearing all the sins of all sinners, Jesus has completely eliminated your sins. All the sins of every sinner in the world were completely blotted out by Him.” By this witness of John the Baptist, whoever believes in Jesus Christ as his or her Savior becomes able to receive the remission of sin.

Because Jesus took all the sins of the world by being baptized from John and Hr shed His blood on the Cross to atone for them, now He admonishes us to receive the remission of sin by believing in this Truth. Dear fellow believers, do you still have sin? We are not sinless because we have not committed any sin or because we are completely innocent. Rather, it is because Jesus took all the sins of the world through His baptism. Since Jesus took all the sins of the world by being baptized by John the Baptist, the believers in this Truth receive the remission of all their sins. We are sinless because we believe in the Truth of salvation that we were made sinless. Thus, a sinner receives his salvation by believing in his heart the gospel of the water and the Spirit.

We have received the remission of sin by believing in the gospel witnessed by John the Baptist. Still, we cannot receive our salvation if we do not believe in the God-spoken Word of Truth, the salvation through Jesus’ baptism. God appears Himself to sinners through the Word these days. There is not a single person who has seen God. Still, we come to believe in God by believing in His Word. Furthermore, we receive the remission of all our sins through His Word.

John the Baptist continues to witness. It is written in John 1:35-39, “Again, the next day, John stood with two of his disciples. And looking at Jesus as He walked, he said, ‘Behold the Lamb of God!’ The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. Then Jesus turned, and seeing them following, said to them, ‘What do you seek?’ They said to Him, ‘Rabbi’ (which is to say, when translated, Teacher), ‘where are You staying?’ He said to them, ‘Come and see.’ They came and saw where He was staying, and remained with Him that day (now it was about the tenth hour).”

If we look at above Scripture passage, we find that the number of Jesus’ disciples increased because of the testimony of John the Baptist. Among the disciples of Jesus, there were many who had been the followers of John the Baptist. However, John the Baptist did not tell them to follow himself. Rather, he witnessed to them about how Jesus bore all the sins of the world after He was baptized “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). “Look! There goes the Lamb of God. That Person is the very Son of God, our Lord and Savior.” Because of that witness, two of his disciples left him to follow Jesus. From that moment on, they began their lives anew as the disciples of Jesus.

We who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit are also the disciples of Jesus Christ. Everyone who has become a disciple of Jesus Christ has become so through their faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, which is what John the Baptist witnessed about. Of course, Jesus Himself also sometimes personally called people to follow Him, and they became His disciples, as was the case with Philip. In the case of Simon Peter and Andrew his brother, Jesus said, Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men" (Mark 1:17) Still, John the Baptist convinced his disciples that Jesus is the Lamb of God and the only One to be followed. John the Baptist has made his disciples believers in Jesus as their Savior.

John the Baptist played the role that enables people to follow just Jesus correctly. Even now, if all sinners were to be delivered completely from all their sins and become righteous by believing in Jesus as their Savior who came by the gospel of the water and the Spirit, it would be because of the baptism John the Baptist gave Jesus and the witness that is given by the disciples of Jesus.

Then, all of those who believe in the Word of the Old Testament must also believe in Jesus, who is the Messiah. Who is the Savior and Master of the history of humanity? That would be Jesus. Who is the servant who accurately witnessed about Jesus? That would be John the Baptist. After hearing the witness of their master, “Behold the Lamb of God! He is the Savior,” the disciples of John the Baptist including Andrew followed Jesus and became His disciples, and followed Him. Then Jesus turned, and seeing them following, said to them, “What do you seek?” They said to Him, "Rabbi (which is to say, when translated, Teacher), where are You staying?” He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where He was staying, and remained with Him that day (now it was about the tenth hour) (John 1:38-39).

Dear fellow believers, we must believe with certainty that Jesus is the Son of God, our Savior. Also, we must believe that Jesus granted us remission from all our sins by His baptism and bloodshed. Jesus had asked, “Why are you following Me?” and John’s disciples replied by asking, “Rabbi, were do you stay?” “Come and see.” Hence, Jesus took them and showed them where He stayed.

Dear fellow believers, what would Jesus’ home have been like? Would it have been like some palaces? Jesus did not have His own house while living in this world. Traveling through the desert for His mission, Jesus sometimes went up to the mountains to pray and even slept there. As the Scripture says, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head” (Luke 9:58; also Matthew 8:20), Jesus did not settle down in any one place. That means that Jesus did not live in splendor while He was in this world.

Neither Jesus nor His disciples possessed much of anything. Simply because of the witness of their previous teacher, John the Baptist, that Jesus is the Lamb of God, they became the disciples of Jesus by believing that Jesus was the Son of God, the Savior and Lord. Today, if you and I are to become disciples of the Lord Jesus, we should do likewise. Andrew and another anonymous person became disciples of Jesus by believing in Him and following Him.

Although Jesus did not live in splendor and glory while He was in this world, He was fundamentally the true God and equal with God the Father; He is the Son of God, the Creator of the universe and everything in it, and our Savior. We can become disciples of Jesus and witness about Him only when we believe that He is the Messiah who came in the flesh of man by the incarnation of the Word. If we also want to become disciples of Jesus Christ, we must know and believe that Jesus’ baptism was for the transfer all the sins of the world onto Him and that the bloodshed on the Cross was for Jesus to receive the judgments for all sins in our place. Dear fellow believers, do you understand?

“He said to them, ‘Come and see.’ They came and saw where He was staying, and remained with Him that day (now it was about the tenth hour)” (John 1:39). Here, it clearly tells us how a disciple of Jesus is made. Truly, these people needed the Messiah and not a wealthy landowner or famous politician. The disciples of John the Baptist were waiting for the Messiah and not some earthly glory. They really wanted to receive the remission of sin and enter into the Kingdom of Heaven by believing in the Messiah.

Let’s look at John 1:40-42 together.

“One of the two who heard John speak, and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his own brother Simon, and said to him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ (which is translated, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus. Now when Jesus looked at him, He said, ‘You are Simon the son of Jonah. You shall be called Cephas’ (which is translated, a Stone).”

Through the witness of Andrew, his brother Peter was able to meet with Jesus. And he became a disciple of Jesus Christ. Peter became a believer in Jesus and lived a righteous life following Jesus. Andrew witnessed to Peter that he had met the Messiah (which is translated, the Christ), that the Son of God is the very One prophesized by the Old Testament prophets, and that He is the Messiah our Savior who came to this world as an offspring of a woman to deliver us from all our sins. When Andrew witnessed to Peter what he had believed, Peter was led to Jesus and met Him and became a disciple of Jesus.

Here in today’s Scripture passage, we can know whom John the Baptist had witnessed about. It also teaches us how important the role of John the Baptist is to those who believe in Jesus as their Savior. If it had not been for the witness of John the Baptist, Andrew and Peter would not have become the disciples of Jesus. And you and I could not have become His disciples. Without the witness of John the Baptist, how could we have become the disciples of Jesus? How could we believe in Jesus as our Savior? The Apostle John, the Gospel writer, emphasizes the importance of the role of John the Baptist and his witness. It is clear that all of us can wholly become God’s children because of the witness of John the Baptist.

John the Baptist played an important and indispensable role for the propagation of the gospel. We must understand that our role is the same as John the Baptist’s. Just as John the Baptist was the voice openly declaring how Jesus took all of our sins onto Himself by coming to this world, we are also such voices. The righteous are not saviors and they are not gods. Rather, the righteous are the servants and disciples of God, and a voice in the wilderness that clearly witnesses about Jesus Christ. This voice led people to meet with the true Life. The Bible records that those who accept the voice (the gospel) of the righteous receive salvation and become disciples of Jesus as well as the children of God. We shall live the lives of disciples who witness the gospel of the water and the Spirit after having met this true gospel, which Jesus the Messiah gave us. That is the role of the righteous.

The role of the righteous is very important today in this age. Just as the light of a lighthouse is the light of safety that leads ships through safe paths in the darkness, the righteous become lights of salvation in this dark world. How important is this role? If it were not for us, there would be no one to witness the gospel of the water and the Spirit. We must live our lives like that of John the Baptist and the disciples of Jesus.

My beloved fellow believers, God is clearly telling us what our role as the righteous is and what the role of John the Baptist was. God is also telling us that Jesus has become the Savior for all of humanity. Just as John the Baptist testified about Jesus, we the righteous should also try to clearly witness about Jesus instead of distinguishing ourselves in this world. People will believe and become children of God after hearing the voices of the righteous, but only when the righteous actively witness who Jesus was, that He is our Savior, that He is the Lamb of God, and that He bore the sins of the world. That is the role of the righteous. We as the righteous should not make ourselves distinguished in the world but witness about Jesus.

The servants and believers of God should not single out their own achievement for praise. We are merely the voice of the one who proclaims in the wilderness. We who have become the righteous should not chase after our own fame and status but instead devote ourselves to witnessing the gospel of the water and the Spirit throughout the entire world. In order to witness about Jesus and propagate the gospel of the water and the Spirit, there cannot be any ego. If we pursue our selfishness, we will be unable to share the righteousness of God. The righteous should play the role of the witness of the gospel. Everything was given to us as a blessing from God. We have been told to be responsible to our duties as the witnesses of the gospel and to live the rest of our lives as the disciples of Jesus.

John the Baptist witnessed that Jesus is the true Savior until he went to Heaven, after he transferred all the sins of the world to Jesus by baptizing Him. After he had led many people to Jesus, he clearly witnessed that Jesus is our Savior, and after he had rebuked the immoral, he was martyred. Because of Jesus Christ, he was temporarily a light that had shone the light of salvation. John the Baptist was a servant of God, living in the wilderness, eating locusts and wild honey and not seeking the wealth and fame of this world. This was the kind of life John the Baptist led in this world. After he had been martyred, he entered the heavenly Kingdom of God, and is now a great servant of God in His Kingdom.

The righteous in this world should likewise play the same role of John the Baptist. By recognizing our transformed status, we should not live our lives according to our own desires, but should devote ourselves to the work of spreading the gospel of the water and the Spirit, which we were commissioned to do. That is the last task God has entrusted us with, and the purpose and meaning of our lives. God is the Lord who let us live such lives. I give thanks to our Lord who sent John the Baptist and Jesus into this world.

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