"John Was a Good Pointer"

John 1: 6-9; 19-28 (Advent 3 - 2017)

“John Was a Good Pointer”

“She is great pointer!” There are breeds of dogs who just have it in there blood. A good pheasant dog is very valuable to the hunt. The dogs have a keen sense of smell for where the birds are hiding. On a cold day those elusive birds will sit tightly in the smallest of cover. Hunters will send their dogs out ahead of them, scanning the fields, sniffing down fresh tracks, following that distinct smell. And then it happens. The dog stops. She waits. She points, exactly at the very spot that bird is hunkered down.

The Lord sent his last great pointer prophet, John. Jesus said there was no greater prophet: great not because of himself; great because he pointed people to the light of Christ.   

John’s pointing skills speak volumes in two most memorable phrases of Jesus: “Look the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” “He must become greater. I must become less.” (John 3: 30).

Pointing to the Light of Prophecy

Experienced hunters know many of the signs. They know where to begin looking. They know what kind of cover to walk through. Israel was given the signs. They knew where to look. To find Messiah, to know Christ, their fields were the Prophecies.

The Lord sent out one last pointer into those Old Testament fields. John was not only another prophet, he was the fulfilment of one of the prophecies. John fulfilled the prophecy that referred to himself as the voice speaking in the wilderness “Prepare the way for the Lord.” (Isaiah 40: 3). Prophecy was made authentic, brought to light, when it came true. So John came as authentic prophet, the last prophet before Christ as Isaiah had foretold.

Truth gives birth to light. This “voice in the wilderness”, this John, was sent by God (apostle in the Greek). To be what?  A Witness, a Testimony, a Message; a Prophet, the “Sent One” to not only prepare the way for Jesus but to be a Martyr (witness). John’s message and ministry would eventually end in martyrdom, being put in prison and eventually killed for pointing to the light to Christ and to the light of truth.

The Light of NT truth sheds light on the OT Prophecies. One of those prophecies was not so much a written word but a repeated image in the ceremonies of Israel: the sacrificial lamb. That repeated exercise drove home to Israel what they were to see in the lights of prophecy: “the Lamb of God who takes away sin.”

John’s pointing skills speak volumes in two most memorable phrases of Jesus: “Look the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” “He must become greater. I must become less.” (John 3: 30).  John was the first to teach what Peter later wrote:

“Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things. (1 Peter 1: 10-12)

“We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable,and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (1 Peter 1: 19-21)

 

Pointing to the Light of Christ

His Humility Points Away From Himself. Why does John go to the wilderness? Why is he dressed in camel hair and eating bugs? He is not only drawing the attention of the crowds. He is drawing them away: from city, from self, from everything that was in the way. He was preparing them for someone who, unlike him, will look like them, but be different. He is drawing them out and away in order to point them to Jesus. The man in the wild is not on a soap box on the streets Jerusalem looking for his own glory. He draws people away from everything to know about a greater man whose sandals he is not worthy to untie.

John’s pointing skills speak volumes in two most memorable phrases of Jesus: “Look the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” “He must become greater. I must become less.” (John 3: 30).

His Baptism of Repentance & Forgiveness Lights the Way. John was not afraid to call a spade a spade. He called out people on their specific lifestyle sins. He called them a “brood of vipers.” He pointed out the loveless, self-righteousness of the pharisees; the thievery and greed of tax collectors; the violent extortion by Roman soldiers. His messages call you and me to repent of lifestyle sins, too; to level the rough places of our loveless hearts, our greedy lives; and to confess our selfish darknesses before God. Repentance lights the way.  

John’s baptism also pointed them to the truly loving, righteous, peace-giving Savior. His baptism is valid and certain. His baptism washes away sin. His baptism connects people Jesus; to his death on a cross, to his burial, to his resurrection from the grave (Romans 6: 1-4). Your baptism does connects you to very the same light of forgiveness in Christ.

John’s baptism carries pointing skills which speak volumes in his two most memorable phrases of Jesus: “Look the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” “He must become greater. I must become less.” (John 3: 30). .  “He must become greater. I must become less.” (John 3: 30).

His Reverence for Christ Points to Jesus. John shows a reverence for the God who sent him. He shows a reverence for the Word. He shows a reverence for truth. He shows a reverence for the Holy Spirit. He shows a reverence for the means of grace. He shows a reverence for Jesus, who is the Christ that Israel was expecting. John lived what Jesus called for: “whoever wants to follow me, must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me” (Mark 8:34).

John’s reverence for Christ speaks volumes in his two most memorable phrases of Jesus: “Look the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” “He must become greater. I must become less.”

Pheasant hunting is not allowed in the darkness. The pointers are sent out in daylight. John’s message for you includes a call to see the Light of Advent. Follow the Light that John sheds today. Follow that light to Font and remember your baptism. Follow Christ in a manger; to Jesus on the streets of Jerusalem and the hills of Galilee; to a Lamb on a Cross for you; and to vacated Tomb!; Follow the Word that is a lamp to your feet and light for your path (Psalm 119:105) to Jesus! Amen.