Sermon: Lessons from John the Baptist and his ministry

The Jordan River: Here John the Baptist baptized people who came to him.


The Bible’s references to the life and ministry of John the Baptist are very brief when compared with the written records about other men and women of God. But the practical lessons we can draw from his life and ministry are plenty. In today’s sermon I want to dig the scripture for these spiritual diamonds.

Text: Matthew 3:1-10

1. His irresistible desire to serve God

A. Not worried about luxuries – Clothes made from camel hair. A leather belt around his waist. These were the clothes worn by poor people. (OT permits Locusts as a food: Leviticus 11:21-23)

B. Danger – The land adjacent to the Jordan river, covered with bushes and heavy undergrowth was inhabited by wild beasts. (Source: The Expositor’s Bible Commentary by Zondervan)

C. Lesson for us: I am not telling God’s servant should return to stone age. The point is what motivates your service for God? Is it a craving for wealth and comfort or a thirst to see souls getting saved for God’s kingdom?

2. He was anointed by God

A. Anointed even before his birth, (Luke 1:15)

B. Expressed in his influence (…people from Jerusalem, as well as all Judea and all the region around the Jordan, were going out to him…)

C. Lesson for us: A word of warning. What drives your ministry? if it is something less than the anointing of the Holy Spirit you will fail miserably. A ministry driven by pure personality, gifts, mere charisma, fame wont last longer.

3. A preacher of righteousness

A. Rebuked the top religious authorities of his day. Emphasized on repentance.

B. “The brood of vipers” – The Baby Vipers carry venom from their birth. A harsh statement John used to confront the wicked nature of Pharisees and Sadducee.

C. Confronted rulers of his day which cost him his life, (Mark 6:17-29).

D. Lesson for us: Ministers of God should confront and condemn sin boldly, regardless of the cost involved.

4. He respected God’s calling

A. Did not compromise, (Luke 1:15)

B. Lived a holy life.

C. Lesson for us: God demands that his servants be holy. It’s one of the many keys for a successful ministry. There are ministers who live sinful lives while leading successful ministries. But they are doomed (Matthew 7:21-23).

5. Prepared the way of the Lord

A. It was his top priority.

B. “…Make the crooked paths straight…” – means call sinners to repent.

C. Jesus is coming back. We are responsible for preparing the world for his second coming.

D. Lesson for us: The Gospel – is it a top priority in your ministry? You and I are the heralds of the Lord’s second coming? Do you teach and practice the great commission, (Acts 1:8)? Do you call sinners to repent!

6. Gave glory to God

A. Never claimed God’s glory to himself, (John 1:26-27)

B. Exalted Jesus, (John 1:29)

C. Possessed a humble attitude, (Matthew 3:14)

D. Lesson for us: There’s nothing wrong in entertaining a sense of achievement with what you are doing for the expansion of God’s kingdom, but the glory isn’t yours. People should exalt Jesus when they see your work. Possess a humble attitude so that spiritual pride will not overcome you.


The unique qualities of John the Baptist and his philosophy of ministry made him an insignificant man with an outstanding ministry. His life span was very short. His ministered for very short period. Still God rewarded him for his faithfulness.

Example: Jesus said,

While they were going away, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? What did you go out to see? A man dressed in fancy clothes? Look, those who wear fancy clothes are in the homes of kings! What did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written: ‘Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’ “I tell you the truth, among those born of women, no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he is.” (Matthew 11:7-11, NET) What would Jesus say about you and me?

(If this sermon was helpful to you please consider leaving your feedback in the comments section at the bottom. It would be a great encouragement to me personally.)
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