Moving right along . . .
The Little Picture and the Big Picture
A lot of people that don’t believe in God aren’t all that fond of how God’s Word, especially the words that Jesus uttered, fly in the face of what is commonly promoted these days. Motivational speakers like to focus on building up our self esteem and what we can accomplish with the right attitude. I understand the rationale behind this thinking and there is certainly an element of truth involved in encouraging people to focus on the positives and the possibilities of human endeavours. I call that the little picture.
But this is what Jesus says about the bigger picture:
John 3:20-21 NIV
“Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.”
Can human beings be kind and selfless towards others outside of their own family? Of course they can and we often see expressions of kindness and unselfishness during times of emergencies and individual examples of compassion. But God’s standard is not the same as man’s standard. God looks at everything that we have done, all the words that have come out of our mouths and all of the thoughts within our minds and judges them in comparison with His standard, which is Holy. There’s no deviation in the holiness of God. The Bible teaches that God is a holy God. The idea behind the concept of holiness is “separation.” It comes from a word meaning “to separate or cut off.” God is separate, or cut off, from everything that is sinful and evil – He cannot tolerate sin or that which is not holy.
I often use the example of a mother who has a son on death row for murdering someone. She might easily say, “Except for that one shortfall, my son Johnny really is a good person!” Is the example a little extreme, possibly, but the principle is basically the same when we compare all that we have done, all that we have said and all that we have thought, against the holiness of God. In the big picture, we all fall short of God’s holiness. And, according to Jesus, those who do not wish to have their deeds exposed, deliberately avoid having all their actions, words and thoughts scrutinized under this higher standard, because they fear the comparison. And, in all honestly, who of us can say that we have never broken any of the Ten Commandments? So when I read John 3:20-21, the bigger picture is what I see Jesus speaking about.
John 3:23-36 are words that are quoted as being primarily spoken by John the Baptist. Anyone who thinks John the Baptist wasn’t aware of who Jesus was and why He had come needs to really focus on exactly what John the Baptist is quoted as saying. I will note his declarations (paraphrased) in bullet form:
- John states that he himself is not the Christ (the Messiah)(the Anointed One)
- John states that he has been sent ahead of Him to announce His arrival (Mal 3:1)( Isa 40:3)
- Jesus is noted as being the bridegroom and John as the friend of the bridegroom
- John states that Jesus must increase and he (John) must decrease (Isa 9:7)
- Jesus comes from above and is above all, while John is of the earth
- Jesus will testify to what He has actually seen and heard, yet His testimony will not be accepted
- Whoever does accept the testimony of Jesus confirms that God is true and does not lie
- He who God the Father has sent, being Jesus, speaks the words of God the Father
- God the Father has given Jesus, the Son, the Holy Spirit without measure (note trinity)
- God the Father loves the Son and has given and entrusted all things into His hand
- He who believes and trusts in the Son has eternal life
- He who does not believe in the Son and rejects Him will not see life but the wrath of God
Bear in mind that these declarations all were voiced BEFORE John was thrown into prison (John 3:24). John obviously possessed a pretty good overview of who Jesus was, his testimony here definitely noted that Jesus was the Son of God, the Christ, the Messiah, filled with the Holy Spirit without measure, sent by the Father to deliver the words of Father via the Son, Those who believed in Jesus and trusted in Him had eternal life and those who did not would receive the wrath of God, because of their rejection of the Son.
When you couple these statements by John the Baptist with earlier statements as noted in John 1:15 where John indicated that Jesus existed before he did and John 1:29 where John calls Jesus the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world and John 1:32-33 where John saw the Holy Spirit descent upon Jesus and remain on Him and that He (Jesus) would baptize with the Holy Spirit and John 1:34 where John testifies that Jesus is the Son of God, one begins to comprehend the scope of information that had been given to John by God, prior to John recognizing who Jesus specifically was (John 1:33).
I don’t know about you but that definitely gives me a much greater appreciation for John the Baptist’s ministry, the amount of knowledge that was given to John by God, and how John steadfastly fulfilled his given ministry.
More to follow . . .
Worthy is the Lamb! Blessings!