“A Man Named John”

John 1:6-9, 15

{Prayer}

            Nadin Khoury was 13 years old, 5 foot 2 and weighed, soaking wet, 100 pounds.  Nadin’s mom had lost her job as a hotel maid and needed work.  She moved her family from Minneapolis to Philadelphia.  In 2000, the family had escaped war-torn Liberia in West Africa.  Nadin Khoury, then, was a new kid in Philly with a single mom who was an unemployed African immigrant looking for a job at a hotel.  That’s the kind of kid bullies spot from 100 miles away.

            And they did.  The bullies outnumbered Nadin seven to one.  For thirty minutes, seven teenagers hit and kicked Nadin and rubbed his face in the dirt.  Nadin survived the attack and would have likely faced more, except for the folly of one of the bullies.  He filmed it all and posted it on YouTube.  Police saw it and the bullies were thrown behind bars.

            A staffer at the nationwide morning show called The View heard about it and invited Nadin to appear on the broadcast.  Unbeknownst to Nadin, the producer had also invited three members of the Philadelphia Eagles football team to appear on the show as well.

            One was All-Pro wide-receiver DeSean Jackson, who now plays for the LA Rams.  Jackson said, “Nadin, I’m here for you man, anytime you need me.”  Then, in full view of every bully in Philly, DeSean Jackson gave Nadin Khoury his cell phone number.  Bullies think twice before they harass a kid who has an NFL player’s number on speed dial.

            You and I … we have our fair share of bullies too.  Sin and shame, guilt and blame.  But Jesus says in John 8:44 that the biggest bully on the block is a liar and the father of lies, Jesus even calls him a murderer.  We know him as the devil and Satan.  And Satan hits us with his lies and rubs our face in our dirt.  He wants to destroy us.  And so we run.  And we run some more.  And then we keep on running.  This is why God sent a man named John … John the Baptist.

            “There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe” (John 1:6-7).  John the Baptist’s mission is to “witness concerning that light.”  In fact, fourteen times in the Fourth Gospel, the word “witness” is connected with John the Baptist.  Fourteen times!  The best example is in John 1:29 where John the Baptist sees Jesus and this is his witness, “Behold, the Lamb of God who is taking away the sin of the world.

            John’s witness is “that through him {Christ} all people might believe.”  This is the use of the word “believe” in John’s Gospel.  It will occur ninety-six more times.  This is the great goal of John’s Gospel.  “These things are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God and that by believing you may have life in his name” (20:31).

            We’re all on the run.  Satan is chasing us with his lies and seductions and half-truths.  That’s why God sent a man named John … John the Baptist.  John’s mission is to witness so we believe the Light.  And who is the Light?  In John 8:12, Jesus says, “I am the light of the world.”

            “He himself is not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world” (John 1:8-9).  John’s message is simple.  He isn’t the light.  John isn’t the message, he’s the messenger.  And he repeats this numerous times.

            John 1:8, “He was not the light.”  John 1:20, “I am not the Christ.”  John 1:21, “I am not Elijah, I am not the prophet.”  John 1:27, “I am not worthy to untie his sandals.”  If John is only the messenger, it’s no wonder he says in John 3:30, “He must increase and I must decrease.”  Jesus must increase, not me.

            You know, when the liar is rubbing my face in my sin and shame, my guilt and blame … too often I look for help in all the wrong places.  It’s easy to look to other people.  It’s easy to look to my work, my accomplishments, my money, my vacations, my stuff.  These are good lights.  These are grand lights in my life.  But these are not the Light.  There is only one Light of the world who can defeat my demons and darkness.  John’s message?  This Light is Jesus.

            John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word is/was with God and the Word was God.”  John 1:14, “The Word became flesh.”  It’s this Jesus, true God and true man, who fights the bully on our behalf.  In the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, Jesus is frequently casting out devils and demons, but here in John’s gospel … there is only one exorcism.  “Now the prince of this world is cast out” (12:31).  We can say it is a one and done kind of thing.  One and done!  And when is the prince of this world cast out?  John 12:32 tells us.  When the Son of Man is lifted up on a cross for us.

            Jesus fights for your health and for your family.  Jesus fights for your salvation and for your restoration.  And Jesus fights for your final resurrection.  Are the odds against you?  Is the coach against you?  Is your boss against you?  Is your health, your friends against you?  Difficult, for sure.      

            But Jesus fights for you.  Yes you.  You with your broken heart.  You with your aging body.  You with the absentee parent.  You with the lost job, the bad back, the bad credit score, the bad grade, the bad break.  Jesus fights for the yous of the world.  Jesus fights Satan for you.  Jesus defeats Satan for you.  It happened not in a boxing ring or a battlefield but on a bloody God-forsaken cross and confirmed in an empty tomb.  And the day is coming when Jesus will ultimately destroy Satan for you.  Jesus even gives you his number on speed dial.  His number?  B-I-B-L-E.  The Bible!

            “John witnesses concerning him. He cries out say, ‘This was he of whom I said, He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me’” (John 1:15).  Both verbs “witnesses” and “cries out” are present tense verbs.  God mandates that John keeps witnessing and crying out.  It’s that urgent of thing.  “He {Christ/Jesus} has surpassed me because he was before me.”  Here’s the point.  Jesus is greater than John the Baptist!

            Here’s the even bigger point … John 4 says that Jesus is greater than Jacob.  John 5 says that Jesus is greater than Moses.  John 8 says Jesus is greater than Abraham.  Here’s the biggest point … John 5:39 says that Jesus is greater than the entire Old Testament with all the prophets, priests and kings; with its tabernacle, temples, and Torah.  That’s why John the Baptist still is witnessing and still crying out.  There is no power, no authority and no one greater or strong or more loving than Jesus!

            My father-in-law has a cute little Bichon dog named Chloe.  As any young dog does, she liked to run around the yard.  Problem was, like with any young dog, they sometimes run away. 

            I remember taking her out one day for her to do her business and somehow she got off of the leash and started running around the yard.  Trying to catch a dog who has this sudden sense of freedom is not the easiest thing to do.  We got a point where we both stopped, looking at each other straight in the eye.  Chloe had a choice.  She could either listen to me or take off running.  What did she do?  Yeah, she took off running, again.

            So do you.  So do I.  We all run.  And we run some more.  And then we keep on running.  We run because he’s after us?  The bully on the block, the father of lies, the devil is constantly chasing us.  But we don’t have to run through life, which not being a fan of running sounds great.  None of us has to run through life.  Why?

            Because God sent a man named John, John the Baptist.  John’s mission, John’s message, and John’s mandate are all about Jesus.  All about how Jesus fights for you.  So stop running frantically and fearfully, but instead stop.  Stop, turn around, look straight into your Savior’s tender eyes.  And then fall into his strong, secure, and loving arms.  Amen.

            The peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus our Lord, now and forever.  Amen.

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