Whenever a person receives forgiveness of his or her sins, what follows is an unusually powerful desire to tell others about Jesus. The excitement about the transformation that has taken place in a person’s life can be intense. He or she wants to let the whole world know. This excitement for witnessing should never fade in us. As we will see, John the Baptist shares with us his passion for telling others about Jesus.
MEETING THE LAMB OF GOD—John 1:29-31
John had the great honor of preparing the people for the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. This was what John had been preparing for his whole life and the moment had finally come. Some do not receive any training in sharing with others about Jesus. That, of course, is not a good enough reason not to testify about what has taken place in our life since we started to follow Jesus. All we need to get started in witnessing is to know our own story and use it to point others to Jesus.
John quickly seized the opportunity to point Jesus out to the people. This is the focus of our witnessing: to let others know Jesus has done something wonderful for us and that He can do the same in them. John’s exclamation that Jesus is “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29) sets this focus.
Jesus is not just a moral teacher who gives us a new set of principles to live by. Jesus actually transforms the whole person. He deals with the sin in our soul, the very core of who we are. This makes our gospel witness stronger and much more appealing to those searching for something that is real.
John then moved from pointing the crowds to who Jesus is and what He can do, to what Jesus is like. John the Baptist lets the people know that even though Jesus started His ministry after John did, He was indeed before John. His wording “Preferred before me: for he was before me” (John 1:30) implies that Jesus is far greater than himself. John may have been six months older than Jesus on earth, but he made it known that Jesus was alive well before then.
This new dimension adds to our understanding of witnessing. Once we introduce who Jesus is and what He has done for us, we diminish ourselves and lift up Jesus even higher. John the Baptist would later testify again to this fact of Jesus that “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). It is important that we do not overshadow any attempt to witness about Jesus with stories mainly about us. Jesus is over all and to be seen above all others.
In the light of Jesus’ appearance, John explained why he had “come baptizing with water” (John 1:31). Baptism was a sign of repentance, of the new birth, and of death and resurrection. While Jesus would add fuller meaning to those different aspects of the baptism, John performed the act as a way to prepare people for Jesus’ arrival. Baptism of the new convert today still has significant implications, especially in the area of our personal testimony and witness.
It can be very intimidating sometimes to tell others about the transition that has taken place in our life. Baptism offers us an opportunity, as our first testimony to the church and the world, that we have decided to follow Jesus. This can be an excellent way to share with others and our family members who still may not personally know Jesus that we are now Christians and that they can be too.
TESTIFYING OF JESUS—John 1:32-34
John the Baptist went on to tell what happened during this personal visitation with Jesus. “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him” (John 1:32). This is the proof that John was needing. He had been told that the One that he was preparing the way for was going to be the One with the “Spirit descending, and remaining on him” (vs. 33). By this, John would know that God was bringing to fulfillment the plan of salvation. John knew that whoever the Spirit rested upon was going to baptize “with the Holy Ghost.” For John, greater than the witness of a baptism of water was the baptism and abiding of the Spirit of God.
We can be encouraged in our efforts to witness because of the Spirit. It is through the abiding of the Spirit that our weakness and shortcomings are dealt with. The Holy Spirit makes us bolder, stronger and more mindful about the things of God. This is no more evident than in our testimonies. It is through the Spirit-empowered witness of our word and deed that we can indeed declare that Jesus is “the Son of God” (John 1:34).
Throughout the entire passage, we are constantly brought back to focus on Jesus. It is through Jesus that our sins are taken away (John 1:29). Jesus existed eternally before us (1:30): He had the constant abiding of God’s Spirit (vs. 32-33). Finally, Jesus is the Son of God (vs. 34). Through it all, we see that an active witness of Jesus is a consistent witness about Jesus. We are to witness what He has done in our lives, in the lives of others, and in the world. We witness to the majestic wonder of His name and nature.
We must faithfully declare Jesus. The focus of John the Baptist was to prepare the hearts of the people by his testimony to receive Jesus. You may feel inadequate at times and afraid to share your testimony. John said, “Behold the Lamb.” Jesus is worthy of the effort, and the Spirit is there to help you witness.