Confess His Superiority (19–28)
The Gospel of John sets out to show that Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ, the Savior of the world. Although John was an important part of God’s kingdom, he points out that he was not the Messiah. Rather, he points to Christ’s superiority.
First, John humbles himself and points to Jesus as Lord. John admits that he is only the instrument who prepares the way for the Lord. John identifies Jesus as God by using the name Lord. Second, John humbles himself in order to exalt Christ. He states that he is not worthy to untie the thong of Jesus’ sandal, a job that was usually given to a Gentile slave. Like John, we have to learn to humble ourselves and to extol Jesus. John learned humility from Jesus. The Gospel of John points out that even though Jesus was God (v. 1) and was present at Creation (vv. 2–3), He willingly became flesh and dwelt among us (v. 14).
The apostle Paul expands on this point when he declares that Jesus “humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil. 2:8 NIV1984). Andrew Murray said, “The humble man feels no jealousy or envy. He can praise God when others are preferred and blessed before him. He can bear to hear others praised while he is forgotten because he has received the spirit of Jesus, who pleased not Himself, and who sought not His own honor. Therefore, in putting on the Lord Jesus Christ he has put on the heart of compassion, kindness, meekness, longsuffering and humility.”
Confess His Redemptive Work (29–31)
When John introduces Jesus to the world he presents Him as the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” When John’s contemporaries heard those words they understood that Jesus was identified with the paschal lamb that was sacrificed at the Jewish Passover. He was also the Lamb of God described by the prophet Isaiah, “Like a lamb led to slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so He did not open His mouth” (Isa. 53:7 NIV 1984). John points that Jesus is no ordinary lamb. He is the Lamb of God. Jesus came from heaven to earth with the mission of saving humanity from sin and a Godless eternity. Indeed, some three and a half years later, Jesus would die on a Roman cross, and through His death and physical resurrection he purchased a place in heaven for us. And if we accept Christ’s sacrifice through faith and make Him our Lord and Savior, then we can also boldly say, “This is Jesus, the Lamb of God, who took away my sin.”
Calvin Miller writes: “Our God is no masochist with an odd need to suffer. He tasted death not to enjoy it but to stare it down. The glory of the cross, as Henri Nouwen pointed out, is that Jesus was a wounded healer. … His healing power derives from His own pain, from having iron spikes driven through his body. Wounds become a loving God. Only with such triumph can He offer the world His healing life.”
Confess His Deity (32–34)
In a Gallup poll Americans were asked, “Who do you think Jesus is?” Seventy percent said Jesus was not just another man. Forty-two percent stated Jesus was God among men. Twenty-seven percent felt Jesus was only human but divinely called. Nine percent said Jesus was divine because He embodied the best of humanity.
Despite what people think, Christ’s deity is evident when one searches the Scriptures. John the Baptist confesses that Jesus is the Son of God. He writes how Jesus knew everything about Nathanael although He had never met him, how Jesus transformed water into wine, how He healed an official’s son without even seeing him, how He fed at least 5,000 people with only five barley loaves and two fish, how He walked on water, and how He healed the blind and resurrected the dead. But Christ’s deity is best seen in His death and physical resurrection. Thomas confesses Jesus’ deity after the resurrection when he exclaims, “My Lord and my God.” May we boldly confess Jesus’ superiority, redemption and deity in the way we think, act, and speak. — by Tiberius Rata, Ph.D.
(Editor’s Note: Dr. Tiberius Rata is professor of Old Testament Studies and chair of the Department of Biblical Studies at Grace College and Theological Seminary, Winona Lake, Ind. This article first appeared in The Alabama Baptist (thealabamabaptist.org) and is used with permission.)