Text: John 1: 19-51
Proposition: Jesus causes hope to be moved from promise to proof, rewarding faith with revelation, enabling people to see the greater things of God’s holiness and kingdom.
Introduction: There’s a Peanuts cartoon that shows Linus and Lucy sitting in front of the television. Lucy looks over at Linus and says, “Go get me a drink of water.” Linus looks surprised and responds, “ Why should I do anything for you, you never do anything for me.” Lucy looks at Linus and says, “On your seventy fifth birthday I’ll bake you a cake.” Linus gets up and heads for the kitchen saying, “Life is more pleasant when you have something to look forward to.” Funny yet true, the importance of looking forward to something wonderful is what lies at the center of hope. We hope for things as a country and as families and we hope for things personally, hope is essential to life…without it people die. This truth is not lost on the One Who brings life to the desert, Who restores the broken hearted and Who seeks and saves the lost. Let me tell you a story about four days in the life of Jesus, four days when Jesus caused hope to be moved from promise to proof, rewarding faith with revelation, enabling people to see greater things. Turn to the gospel of John, chapter 1, as we read about the first of these four days in verses 19-28.
I. Day 1 … It Is In the Wilderness That Hope Is Conspicuous. Vs19-28 John the Baptist stood in the Jordan River, calling people to remember what they had been taught as children, to remember their God and to turn back to Him. He was challenged by the Levites and Scribes as to His credentials, this was after all spiritual teaching and who was he to be saying these things to the general population. Was he The Christ, or Elijah returned from heaven or the Prophet that would fulfill the promise of Deuteronomy 18:15-18? No, this was not who John the Baptist was. So they asked him, ‘Who are you, what do you say about yourself?” They are good questions, how would we respond to them if we were asked why we are proclaiming spiritual truth…what are our credentials, who gave us the right to say what people should be doing? John’s answer is that Israel has become a wilderness spiritually, it can’t even see the significance behind the act of Baptism anymore, it’s become nothing but a dead ritual. So John says, “I baptize with water”, in other words I point to the presence of sin and call people to turn from it. I do this in a time and place where though deadness abounds, God stands in our midst and you do not know Him. John spoke the hope of life into peoples lives, the hope of forgiveness of sin and of the wonder of God. It is in the wilderness that hope is particularly conspicuous. John says to these men, you are standing right next to the spring of the water of life, and you not only do not see Him you don’t even feel your own thirst. Jesus is so close, hope declares His presence, it’s just the end of the first day.
II. Day 2… Hope Occurs As We Recognize Jesus. Vs 29-34 What does Jesus look like? Certainly John didn’t know, twice he says that he didn’t recognize Him. So if John the Baptist didn’t know, how can we possibly begin to recognize the face and voice of Jesus? Consider this:
1. Remember the purpose of Jesus and you will recognize Him. John points us to that in verse 29, “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” The purpose of Jesus was to use death as a scalpel that would take away sin. His death as the Lamb of God, meaning innocent One given in our place, is a death that occurs so that we can be released from a place and sentence of death. Sin places us under the wrath of God, we are enemies of God until sin is atoned for. The purpose of Jesus is to bring you to from being under wrath to being reconciled to God and to show you the glory of our God Who caused such a rescue mission to be. Remember the purpose and you’ll recognize the face.
2. Step forward in faith and you will recognize God’s methods. What was it that God was asking of John… it was to go and call people to an act of public agreement with God regarding sin and His authority over their life. In faith John baptized people with that message in mind. The way that John recognized Jesus was in recognizing the presence of the Holy Spirit. Faith is the demonstration of obedience that is the response to the revealed grace of God, a revealing of what He has already done and what He’s about to do. Faith is the purity of heart that enables us to recognize the methods of God as the Holy Spirit points us to Christ.
Why is there such hope to be had in this, it is because there is a movement from Promise to Proof, this is the statement of verse 34. The 2nd day ends.
III. Day 3…Hope Grows When You Talk Directly To Jesus. Vs 35-42 Some times it takes a little while before we catch on, this is the second time that John points out to Jesus and calls Him the Lamb of God. Two disciples, likely Andrew and John, hear and receive the prompt to go and talk directly with Jesus. So they approach Jesus and before they can say anything Jesus asks them, “What do you seek?” How do you respond to the eyes of Christ looking into your soul and asking you this? Do you think Jesus was unaware of what was about to take place, the calling of the first disciples? So it was no simple question, it challenged the very heart of motive for wanting to talk directly to Him. What do you really seek from Jesus? Is it acceptance or inspiration or forgiveness? For Andrew and John it was hope, so they speak to Jesus, “Where are you staying?”. No small talk here, but rather a question that asks where can they go to find Him, where has He chosen to be, where does He abide? It was a personal question that risked being transparent before Jesus, and to this Jesus replied, “Come and see.” Perhaps it meant, ‘If you want to be close to Me, come now just as you are’. Do you see what happened because they went and talked directly to Jesus, they went from being hearers of John to disciples of Christ; they experienced the hospitality of Christ as He cared for them; what they were seeking they found, they found truth, the person of God and the next step in their relationship with Jesus. Then hope grew even more as each went and found their brother, Simon came to Jesus as a fiery and impetuous man, Jesus declared a new name over him… Petros, or Peter… the solid one. Was there hope in Peters’ heart that God could use him…oh yes, hope grows as we talk directly with Jesus. Jesus rewards our faith by revealing more of Who He is to the glory of the Father. And the 3rd day ends.
IV. Day 4…Hope Magnifies, As We Receive His Promises. Vs43-51 On the fourth day Jesus calls Phillip, who like Andrew, calls his brother to come see this Jesus that has been foretold of by Moses and all the prophets. Nathanael is the kind of person who is straight up, he calls it like it is. Jesus describes him as such, a man without guile or deception, and then goes on to reveal to him thoughts that only Nathanael could have known. Jesus goes straight to the heart with him, that’s what it feels like when God says, ‘I see you’. Nathanael is stirred to a faith that proclaims Jesus as the Son of God and King of Isrtael! But look what happens next, Jesus promises him that he will see even greater things than ‘just’ the omniscience of God. He promises Nathanael that he will see Jesus as the fulfillment of Jacob’s dream (Genesis 28:12), indeed in the dream Jacob saw a ladder that went from heaven to earth and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. Jesus is saying to Nathanael, I am that ladder, you will see one day a heaven that is open to the earth and the Son of God who causes them to both connect, righteousness dispelling sinfulness, eternity overcoming mortality, the kingdom of God revealed. Hope magnifies as we receive the promises of God. It magnifies our faith in God and it magnifies our love for God.
Jesus is our hope, His deity, incarnation, vicarious death, resurrection, ascension and imminent return, He is the fullness of hope.