Monday, December 19, 2011

From Among You God Has Raised One Up

John 1:19-28 (ESV) And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, "Who are you?" [20] He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, "I am not the Christ." [21] And they asked him, "What then? Are you Elijah?" He said, "I am not." "Are you the Prophet?" And he answered, "No." [22] So they said to him, "Who are you? We need to give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?" [23] He said, "I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, 'Make straight the way of the Lord,' as the prophet Isaiah said." [24] (Now they had been sent from the Pharisees.) [25] They asked him, "Then why are you baptizing, if you are neither the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?" [26] John answered them, "I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know, [27] even he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie." [28] These things took place in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing. “He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” The Christ, the Messiah it is who we wait for in advent. John confesses that he isn’t the Christ. The priests and Levites think John the Baptizer might be the Christ. He is baptizing after all, something the people associated with the coming messiah, because of Ezekiel 36:25-27. Where God promises to sprinkle, and much to the chagrin of the Baptists, of whom John the baptizer was not one, the verse explicitly says sprinkle, clean water on you, and cleanse you from your uncleanness, cleanse you from your idols, with this water he will give you a new heart and a new spirit, indeed remove the heart of stone, give you a heart of flesh, and put his own Spirit in you. John the Baptizer, well, he confesses not to be the Christ, for this reason he says he baptizes with water, and only water. He isn’t the Christ. But perhaps we need a little understanding on this term Christ. It means the same as messiah, or Anointed one. It refers to a practice of pouring oil on a person. This was done as an induction into special offices, sacred offices, offices set apart. Kings would be anointed, Prophets would be anointed, Priests would be anointed. We see this in 1 Samuel chapter 16 with the anointing of David to become King, anointed by Samuel, and with this anointing comes the Holy Spirit. But the Christ, had special meaning. It was a term people came to designate the one of whom Moses had prophesied in Deut. 18 which we just read. The one to whom they should listen. It came to be a designation for the special one concerning whom the Old Testament Prophets continually prophesied with cryptic detail, some of which detail only became apparent to the disciples in hindsight. The title Christ, Messiah, it came to designate a savior, one in whom Israel rested her hope, and not always for the right reasons, or with the right expectations. Of course that could be overlooked in Christ’s day. The prophecies concerning the Christ were quite Cryptic, much more cryptic than Christ ever was in even in the parables, the dark and hidden words it was prophesied he would speak. But that is just it, the Christ is a title. This is a hard one for me. As much as I know it’s a title, as much as I know that saying Jesus Christ, is a confession of faith, a confession of who I believe Jesus to be, I tend to think of and use Christ as a last name. Something to distinguish the Jesus in whom my faith rests, from the bartender I visit on a monthly basis that goes by the same name. Of course such designations and sir names were very rarely if ever used in the Bible. People would distinguish by speaking of the Father to whom the child was born, or that town in which the man lived. Jesus of Nazareth, serves as the last name. Anyone who says Jesus Christ, or Christ Jesus, is really saying that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ, the one upon whom Israel rested her hopes. The one whom John the Baptizer confesses not to be, the one at whom he hints when he says I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know, even he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.” Meaning John the baptizer knew this man to be a man so great he could not so much dare to take on the slave’s job of washing his feet, much less to baptize him, One who would come and baptize with much more, not less than because to baptize means to use water, but more than water. John the baptizer baptizes with water, he says. It is redundant, except that John the baptizer is saying his baptism is not the one of the Christ, the one prophesied in Ezekiel 36. But then that means if Jesus is the Christ, than his baptism is so much more than water, it is an anointing with the Holy Spirit! Yes and this is what it is. John confesses he isn’t the Christ. But he knows the Christ has come. He says the priests and Levites do not know him, though he stands among them. Yes God has raised up a prophet like Moses from among them. And did he raise him up! Yes, we know Jesus is the Christ, precisely because God raised him up. Yes Jesus was anointed, having been baptized by John, the Spirit descended as a dove and lit on his shoulder. And there he was anointed to be our messiah, our Christ, our Savior, there he was anointed to take upon himself our sins as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, the Lamb of God who had to be sacrificed on our behalf, to die on the cross, to die for you and me, the propitiation, the satisfaction for our sin, to be buried in death. But then, but then, oh yeah, then God raised up, then God raised up from among you, from among you who were dead, dead in your trespasses, dad in your sin, unclean and unholy, the servants, the slaves of idols bowing to your greed, your lust, your arrogance and pride, servants of death, slaves of death, yes he rose up from among you who were dead, a Prophet greater than Moses, He raised the anointed one from the dead, the Christ on the third day, the Christ no longer called the Christ so much because the spirit lit on his shoulder, but because now this Christ baptizes, Now this Christ sprinkles you with clean water, washes away your uncleanness, cleanses you from your idols, gives you a new heart and a New Spirit, The Holy Spirit Himself. Yes this Christ, this Messiah, This Jesus of Nazareth, when is the Christ, because when he baptizes you, he anoints you with the Holy Spirit, he anoints you with life, and forgives your sins.

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