The Bible’s references to the life and ministry of John the Baptist are very brief compared to the written records about other men and women of God. However, his character and integrity were so much that there are many lessons we can draw from his life. In my sermon today I will share with you four principles from the life and ministry of John the Baptist.
Text: Matthew 3:1-10
1. He lived for God, not for Himself
A. He didn’t bother about the luxuries he missed. The Bible says his clothes were nothing more than a raiment made from Camel’s Hair and a Leather Belt around the waist. These were the clothes worn by poor people and the Prophets, (2 Kings 1:8).
B. He left his parents and his father’s home to be of service to the Lord, (Luke 3:1-3). Although the Old Testament permits the consumption of Locusts as food in Leviticus 11:21-23 it wasn’t the best diet. He could have enjoyed the meat and the bread that was brought to the Temple (His father was the High Priest). Yet he settled for much less for the sake of Ministry, (Luke 1:15).
C. The land adjacent to the Jordan river, covered with bushes and heavy undergrowth was inhabited by wild beasts. However, John made the banks of the Jordan River his Ministry Head Quarters because the river supplied him with what he wanted most for his Ministry. Water! He lived in constant danger for the sake of God’s Kingdom, (Matthew 16:25).
Death must have been a far easier experience for John for he lived for God, (Philippians 1:21). God doesn’t always call us to die for Him but to live. You and I can’t die for God unless we start living for Him first. We do it by making small everyday sacrifices.
2. He never abused God’s Anointing
A. According to the Gospel of Luke (Luke 1:41) we learn that John was filled with the Holy Spirit while he was still in Elizabeth’s womb. But unlike others (Samson) who were born this way John never used God’s anointing to feed the lusts of the flesh.
B. He used the anointing that God gave him to draw people to God, not for himself (Judges 14:10-20). Even though the people arrived at the banks of Jordan in multitudes to see him he redirected their attention to God instead of receiving all the honor to himself.
C. He was humble and did not hesitate to point to Jesus as rightfully required by his prophetic office (Matthew 3:14; John 1:26-27; 1:29).
The purpose of the anointing is to give us the ability and the skill to fulfill the supernatural tasks God has assigned to us in His Ministry. It’s given to us to perform a task that is sacred. We are not to use that anointing to meet our own selfish, carnal desires, (Acts 8:9-25).
3. He always lived up to God’s Calling
A. God’s way is a Man and John was one of those men of great God. He was the vessel and the instrument God chose to prepare the way of Jesus the Messiah, (Isaiah 40:3-4). John fulfilled this calling in several ways.
B. He prepared the people of his day for the arrival of the Messiah by introducing the Baptism of Repentance and urging the nation to repent, (Luke 3:7-14).
C. He confronted sin with no regard to positions or titles. He pushed his calling to its limits rebuking Herod the tetrarch because of his marriage to Herodias, his brother’s wife, (Luke 3:19-20).
Our calling is good only as long as we live up to it. Our past achievements don’t matter that much unless we lived up to the divine calling every minute of life. It doesn’t mean we must be busy doing ministry all the time but we should be conscious of our calling while doing everything else, (Luke 9:62).
4. Overall he Finished his Race Well
A. In the Bible, we meet three kinds of people. People that started poorly and finished poorly, (Luke 23:39). People who started poorly but finished well, (2 Timothy 4:7-8). People who started well and finished poorly, (1 Samuel 31:4). Lastly, people who started well and finished well, (Genesis 5:21-24). John was a person who started well and finished well.
B. It doesn’t mean John was perfect and did not have a single flaw. He had his fair share of doubts and weaknesses. But he worked on his character constantly, (Luke 7:17-23).
C. John finished so well that even Jesus spoke very highly of him, (Matthew 11:11). Jesus said John is the greatest of those who were born by women, (even though Jesus Himself was born by a woman.) His death may seem unfitting for a Prophet but it’s not unfitting for a man who ran
The Christian life is a race. Unlike the earthly races, however, we don’t run to win but to finish the race and finish it well. How we finish is what matters, not the way we started. Not how we ran because nobody is perfect and we cannot completely rule out the risk of stumbling. Paul has two pieces of valuable advice for us if we hope to finish well and they are recorded in Hebrews 12:1-2 and 1 Corinthians 9:24.
The lifestyle of John the Baptist and his Philosophy of Ministry make him an insignificant man with an outstanding Ministry. His life was very short. His Ministry didn’t last long. But one day God will definitely tell him ‘Well done, good and faithful slave! You have been faithful with a few things. I will put you in charge of many things. Enter into the joy of your master.’ (Matthew 25:23). Will God be able to tell the same about you and me?
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