Let us pray: Dear Savior, teach us today to not only remember John the Baptist, but to imitate his humbleness! Teach us to put our ego aside and focus our lives only on You and Your eternal goodness. Yes, teach us that when we lay aside our pride we find a new life of joy and gratitude in, with, and through You! Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, THE LAMB OF GOD!
TEXT: John 1: 29-41
Fellow Redeemed Sinners:
Later this afternoon the Patriots play the Colts in a playoff game. All week long the papers and newscasts have been filled with stories about the upcoming game. Players have been quoted. Coaches have been interviewed. And most of them have been very careful not to boast about the outcome of the game. Why? Because no one likes a braggart and any boastful statements will be used by the opposing team to raise their emotional level. Football is not an individual sport. It is a team game. To be successful every member of the team must submerge their ego and do what is good for all, not just for themselves. If they do, they will usually be successful. If they do not, defeat looms large.
As Christians we are all members of a team, too. It is called the Holy Christian Church. Our leader is Jesus Christ. He calls all the shots. Everything in our lives is geared toward giving Him all the glory. Not only is He the coach. He is the general manager and owner of the Church, all rolled into one. And considering that He bought and paid for this team with His life, with His blood, any attempt on our part to subtract from His glory by stealing some of it for ourselves will be met with defeat and if the infraction is ongoing, we might even be cut from His squad! Since our lesson addresses the human ego, it is well for us today to remember this truth:
SUBMERGE YOUR EGO AND RECEIVE BLESSING BEYOND COMPARE!
John the Baptist was a special person. Today, we’d call Him a “star.” In many respects he was the superstar of the Church until Christ revealed Himself and took over. Everyone in Israel knew something about John. They talked about his message: “repent for the kingdom of God is near.” They spoke of his rough clothing and his baptizing people into a life of humility and obedience to God’s way and not just their own. John well knew that his task in life was to prepare the way for the real Superstar to come! He knew his life was all about getting people’s hearts prepared to meet “the Lamb of God who would take away the sins of the entire world.”
After meeting Christ at the Jordan river and baptizing Him, which marked the beginning of Jesus’ formal work in saving souls, John goes back to his work of making disciples for Christ. Meanwhile, Jesus goes to the wilderness where He is tempted in our place by the devil for 40 days and nights.—Some training camp! After defeating Satan in his attempts to undermine and defeat Him, Jesus comes back to Galilee. When John sees Jesus, he immediately points his disciples to Him. “This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.” In other words, John confesses his mortality while also confessing Jesus’ immortality! Right here John is telling them that Jesus is the eternal, the timeless Son of God—He existed before John was even born!
It is interesting to note that John did not personally know Christ before he baptized Him. Growing up, these cousins led lives apart, distinct, and separate from one another. John makes note of this when he says: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and testify that this is the Son of God.”
Well, the very next day, John is with two of his disciples and again he sees Jesus passing by. And what does John do? Immediately he says: “Look the Lamb of God!” These two disciples, who we know were Andrew and John the apostle, turn to follow Christ. Jesus talks to them, asks some leading questions, and as a result, they become apostles. Jesus calls them away from John the Baptist. Soon thereafter, Andrew tells his brother, Peter, about Jesus. He, too, follows. And the rest is history.
Throughout this narrative the one thing that leaps out is that John the Baptist submerged his ego to Christ. He willingly gave up the spotlight to Jesus. He even gave up his adoring entourage to Christ. Why? After all, every human being likes to be recognized and adored. We like having people hang on our words and spend time with us. We like feeling important. We like having our ego fed. As a sinner like the rest of us, so did John. And yet, he tossed all that aside in favor of submerging his ego for Jesus. Why? Well, the answer to that question gets at the heart and soul of Christianity, doesn’t it? John knew that sin and guilt before God finally rests in one of two places.—Either upon our shoulders or upon Jesus’ shoulders. And as the Lamb of God, Jesus came to take our guilt away. He was the eternal sacrifice for all sins. Yes, He came to remove that crushing inner burden which says: “I have to go through life all by myself and be a winner all by myself.” Lest you think that this doesn’t really apply much to your life listen up! In marriage, sometimes you feel that all the responsibility for your family’s future rests upon you. At work, sometimes you feel that everything will crumble if you aren’t thinking about it 24-7. At school, you try to draw attention to yourself by getting good grades or being the class clown. Among your extended family, some of you take on the emotional burden of being the “rock” upon whom the rest of the family turns in times of crisis. As much as we complain about such situations, part of us likes them. They make us feel important, vital, and worthwhile. But, in the end, some problem will arise which you cannot control and which will overwhelm you. A bad decision or a misguided word will lead to heartache and even despair. What should you do to avoid all this?
Submerge your ego! Learn to rely on Jesus and not yourself. Learn to point people with problems to Christ’s solutions and not just your own. Let Him shoulder the burden. After all, He’s God. He’s strong enough, powerful enough, and wise enough. Give Him your burdens in prayer. In modern language—be a team player. Let the Superstar win the victory for you! And win it He has with His triumph over all sin, all problems, even death–on a cross.
Whenever the disciples forgot this truth, they devolved into bickering, back-biting, and general unkindness. Recall their fight about who deserved to sit in the highest places of honor in heaven and the discontent that caused! But, then Jesus put an end to it by reminding them of the Baptizer’s words: “He (Christ) must increase, but I must decrease.” When we remember that truth our lives are put into proper focus and we’ll be happy and content. When we forget that truth, troubles will abound. It’s that simple. So, today I urge all of you to Submerge Your Ego and Receive Blessings Beyond Compare! Those blessings being: a happy heart, a contented life, peace with God, and the knowledge that: nothing in all creation can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.