John 1:19-34 (The First Witness)


Tonight we are going to look at John’s first Witness to Jesus in the Book of John : John the Baptist.

A)Introduced to us as a Witness in v.6 –8  John  the Baptist was sent to bear witness to the light.


B) Then in v.15 John the apostle tells us this about John the Baptist –

15 John  bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, "This was He of whom I said,'He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.'"


C) Interesting verse because John the B. was 6 months older than Jesus Physically but John says – He was before me

1) Acknowledging  the Eternal Nature of Jesus – Supporting the Point that John the apostle lays out in v.1-5 Jesus is the Eternal God – who became Man


Comparing other Gospels – We learn this about John the B.

A)He was born into  a Priestly family – Father Zach. Priest/ Mom Elizabeth was also from Priestly tribe = John’s  Priestly training


B) Miraculous Birth – Mom Barren/ Parents were old– Zach didn’t believe:

1) Couldn’t talk for 9th months 


C) John was raised with a special calling as a Nazarite{ Abstain from Strong drink


D) Cousin to Jesus – Prophet:

1) weird Appearance – Camel Skins

2) Even weirder Diet – Locust and Honey


E)  Jesus said of all the men ever born – none greater than John

1) Great man with a great calling.


Now it is important to realize to the Spiritual landscape in Israel at the time of John the Baptist

A)Many Priest: Plus the Religious Hierarchy had been set up – Pharisee / Sadducees – Sanhedrin – ruling class – Supreme Court of religion


B) So all of that was happening and in Place – but there had not been a Prophet in Israel for 400yrs

1) For 400 yrs – Known as the Silent yrs from Malachi to Matthew – no prophetic voice in Israel until John shows up


C) He is out in the Wilderness Drawing quite a crowd – WOW ! You have to come here this guy.


D) Again understand in Israel – there weren’t tons of religions or even Churches or Flavors – ONE FAITH – JUDIASM

1) One Flavor – Formal – Priest robes / Pharisees /Sad/ Rituals

E) John shows up – Sticks out like a sore thumb – His Dress – the fact that he was baptizing – that was different –

1) So the crowds were flocking and the religious establishment was wondering   WHO is this guy?


2) That is where we pick up the story here in John’s gospel. – Note this is 6 weeks after Jesus was Baptized – went into the Wilderness –

                                                                   RD V.19

Now this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?”



A)When John uses the term, “the Jews” which he uses (seventy times throughout his Gospel), he is not making a racial or a religious distinction,


B) He is speaking of a particular group in Israel.

1) he is referring to the Sanhedrin—the equivalent of our Supreme Court—comprised of the religious leaders of Jerusalem. 


C) They were the Legal overseers of the occupied Jerusalem. 

1) Always in reference to those who had rejected Christ – Lo – ammin- Hosea – not my people.


D)So the Sanhedrin sent a delegation of Priest and Levites to ask the question Who are you? 

Think about What John could have said:

A) ‘I’ll tell you who I am. I am a priest. I am a prophet. I am the miraculously-born son of Elizabeth & Zacharias.


B)I am called of God and chosen by God. I am the one prophesied in Isaiah and Malachi.

1) I am the forerunner of the Messiah  that’s who I am.’


C)John could have said that: But he didn’t !

1) See John realized a very important truth. – It really doesn’t matter who I am!  / What matters is who He is. 


D)What Matters is who Jesus is and what is my relationship to Him.

1) What matters is who Jesus is and who I am in regards to who Jesus is.


Some people find their identity in their Family: I am the son of ……/

A)Others their Profession – I am a Lawyer / I am a Painter / I work for …. Company


B)Others find their identity in the Past – in who they used to be –

1) I was the captain of the Football team / Home coming queen . I used to be this


C) The Place where we need to find our identities is in Christ – who we are in Him – What he has called us to. 1) Child/ Friend / Servant – My calling – Pastor / Home group leader / Mechanic / Mom

So notice the answer that he gives to the religious rulers:

V.20 He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.”


A)I am not the Christ – Huge: Messiah complex

1) I will save this marriage / I know what is wrong with them


B) The success of this ministry or that situation – depends upon me.

1) Any time we start thinking that we are in trouble. –


C) We need to have the attitude of John the B. in John 3:30 – When some of his disciples were trying to get him to promote himself – he simply responded

1) I need to decrease so that Jesus can increase.


D) Only way – Either Jesus is #1 OR YOU ARE !


John understood this secret to living – It is all about Who Jesus is!

A)But These guys needed to take an answer back v.21 Ok you are not the Christ then are you…?

Are you Elijah?”  He said, “I am not.”

“Are you the Prophet?”And he answered, “No.”


B)They asked this, because the last verse of the Old Testament, in the book of Malachi, is a promise of the coming again of Elijah.

God had said, "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes,"

A)For four centuries there was a sense of expectation in Israel that Elijah was going to come back again.


B) Elijah was a rugged, fearless prophet who called down the judgment of God upon people.

1)When people saw & heard John, with his rugged countenance and his fearless message, many of them were asking, "Is this Elijah?"


C)John's reply is very clear: "No, I am not Elijah."


Now it is important to note that he is really clear here because those who believe in  reincarnation

Like to make an example of John the Baptist

A)They like to claim that he is Elijah reincarnated.


B) And there are some verses in the Bible that almost sound that way.

Example: Matthew 17:11-13

11 Jesus answered and said to them, "Indeed, Elijah is coming first and will restore all things.  12 But I say to you that Elijah has come already, and they did not know him but did to him whatever they wished. Likewise the Son of Man is also about to suffer at their hands."  13 Then the disciples understood that He spoke to them of John the Baptist.



C) What did Jesus mean? Important to take all the verses on a subject


D) The answer is given very clearly in the opening chapter of Luke's gospel, where Luke records the visit of the angel Gabriel to John's father Zechariah.


E)The angel predicted that this old couple, who were long past the days of childbearing, would have a child by a miraculous birth.

1) His name was to be called John ("God is gracious"). God, not Zechariah, selected that name.


The angel said of John, "He shall go before the Lord in the spirit and the power of Elijah," (Luke 1:17).


John came in the same Spirit of Elijah/ he was not the reincarnation of Elijah –

A)Elijah one of the two Witnesses – in Rev.


B)Well when John says Hey – not Elijah - They go back Further to Moses { The prophet

1) They were referring to the popular expectation that one of the prophets was going to return, based on Deuteronomy 18:15  "The Lord shall raise up unto you a prophet like unto me, and him you shall hear,"


C)To this question, John's response is simply, "No." 1)Notice the increasing bluntness of his answers. "Are you the Messiah?" "No, I am not." "Are you Elijah?"

"I am not." "Are you the prophet?" "No."

Finally, they say to him, "Who are you, then? We can't go back to Jerusalem without an answer.

A)Come on, give us a break. We've been sent to find out who you are. Tell us something we can take back to Jerusalem."



22Then they said to him, “Who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?” 23He said: “I am

 ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness:“Make straight the way of the Lord,”’as the prophet Isaiah said.”


A)I love this Jesus is the Word – the Logos John is the voice! A voice is all John wants to be.

1)He is the voice of one crying in the wilderness-


B) Hey, you will never lack identity if you learn the secret of John the Baptist:

1)Realize no matter where you are, your purpose is unchangeable.


C)You’re  simply a voice to talk to people about Jesus Christ.

1)You too exist to bear witness of the Light


D) John quoting from Isaiah says "I came to be a highway builder.

1)I am to prepare a highway in the desert for our God." Not for men to get to God, but for God to get to men.

Prepare a way: Get rid of the stuff in your lives that is blocking Jesus

A)Same message – Not clean up your life so you can get to God


B) But get rid of the stuff that is blocking Jesus from getting to you. – All of you.

1) Parable of the Sower – Seed is the Word – Logos


C) Hard ground –

1) Stony ground – No depth – Shallow – cluttered life


D) Thorny ground – Cares of this world – Choke the word


E) Good soil – Plowed – soft – moist – receptive


So John says I am just a voice crying in the Wilderness – Make straight …..

A)Well those who were sent respond by asking: Why are you baptizing then. V.24-25


24Now those who were sent were from the Pharisees. 25And they asked him, saying, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?”


B)No prophet in the past had ever baptized for although baptism was practiced by the Jews, it was never practiced upon the Jews

C)Under the Law there were certain washings provided for those who were unclean or who had defiled themselves in some ceremonial way.


D) But Baptism was singularly reserved for Gentile converts to Judaism as a sign of renunciation of their past life.


E) But John was baptizing Jews & he was causing a ripple among the Sanhedrin for doing so.


So they want to Know – Under what Rite do you do this? 

A)Interesting John really doesn’t answer the question but instead he continues to bear witness of Jesus.


B)It is as if he keeps trying to put the attention on John and he keeps deflecting it towards Jesus.


C)The greatest saints of God in every age of the Church have always been men of John the Baptist's spirit.

1They might differ greatly In gifts, and knowledge, and general character.


D). But in one respect they have always been alike--they have been "clothed with humility."

1)They have not sought their own honor. They have thought little of themselves.


E)But like John They have been ever willing to decrease if Christ might only increase,

1) to be nothing if Christ might be all.


F) Goal of anyone who desires to be greatly used in ministry.

1)John’s mission  was  To exalt Christ and to that mission he steadfastly adheres.


V. 26-27

John answered them, saying, “I baptize with water, but there stands One among you whom you do not know. 27It is He who, coming after me, is preferred before me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose.”


It was the job of the lowest servant to take off his masters sandals and wash his feet.

A)John was infactically saying – I am not even worthy to be his lowest servant.


B) But this one who is greater than I is in your midst you just don’t realize it

1)Christ "stood among the Jews," and yet the Jews knew Him not,


C) True as well today!

1)Christ is still standing among many who neither see, nor know, nor believe.


Laodicea: Where was Christ – Outside

A)Money, and pleasure, and the world they knew; but they did not know Christ.


B) How many are like that today: Salvation is within their reach; but they sleep. Mercy, grace, peace, heaven, eternal life, are so near that they might touch them; and yet they sleep.


C)"Christ stands among them and they know him not."


Side note:

Matthew 18:20

“For where two or three are gathered together in My name , I am there in the midst of them." 


Jesus was in the Midst of them because John had made that gathering about Jesus

A)Our gatherings – His name – make it about Him


B) Golf – Fellowship / Coffee / Home group

1) Work – Purpose bear witness –Work ethic / words

 2 or 3 of you – Jesus is there.


V.28 -29

28These things were done in Bethabara {Place of fury}beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing.

29The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!


A)With the Passover feast approaching there were probably sheep grazing in the field nearby or sheep being led to Jerusalem for the feast.


B)With this declaration John goes right to the heart of Israel’s greatest need –not repentence / redemption


C)He was preaching repentence symbolized by Baptism

1) but no amount of water could remove the stain of sin. That required Blood. – Blood from the Lamb


As  Abraham climbed Mt. Moriah to offer his son as a sacrifice in obedience to God’s command, Isaac asked ‘Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?’ (Genesis 22:7).

A)Abe Answered prophetically – God will provide Himself a lamb – God is going to be the lamb.


2 Corinthians 5:19

God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself,


B) Where is the lamb? That is the question that rings throughout the Old Testament.

1) Here in the New Testament, we hear John the Baptist’s answer the question


2)as he points to Jesus and announces, ‘Behold the Lamb!’


C)And in Revelation 5, we hear ten thousand angels join him, declaring ‘Worthy is the Lamb!’

Think about this:

A)‘Where is the Lamb?’is  the cry of the OT


B)Behold the Lamb,’ is  the hope of the NT.

1) ‘Worthy is the Lamb!’ — the summation of eternity.


C)Interesting that the title is used 28 times in the book of revelation for Jesus.


The message of the Lamb of God grows wider and becomes more encompassing as you travel through Scripture . . .

A)In Genesis, when Abel brought a lamb for sacrifice, it was for himself alone.  A lamb for an individual.


B)In Exodus, during Passover, each household sacrificed a lamb. A lamb for a family.


C)In Leviticus, the people of Israel were instructed to sacrifice a lamb. A lamb for a nation.


D)In John, the Baptist identifies Jesus as the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world.

               A lamb for the world.


This title has Incredible significance note 4 things it reveals to us.

A)1)Christ is a SAVIOR. He did not come on earth to be a conqueror, or a philosopher, or a mere teacher of morality. He came to save sinners.

B)He came to do that which man could never do for himself—

1)to do that which money and learning can never obtain-2) to do that which is essential to man's real happiness, He came to "take away sin."


2) Christ is a COMPLETE savior.

A)He "takes away sin." He did not merely make vague proclamations of pardon, mercy, and forgiveness.


B)He "took" our sins upon Himself, and carried them away.

1) He is both Sacrificial Lamb and the Scape goat of the OT.


C) Goat led away – Priest signal – High Priest –Blow trumpet – Sins are forgiven and they are GONE!



3) Christ is a MIGHTY Savior.  

A)A Savior for all mankind. He "takes away the sin of the world."


B) . He did not suffer for a few people only, but for all mankind

1)Not just Jews – Not a select group – The World


C) His death was sufficient for all mankind, though efficient only to those who believe.


4) Last, but not least, Christ is a CONTINUAL Savior.

A)He "takes away" sin. Present tense. 


B)He is daily taking it away from every one that believes on Him--daily purging, daily cleansing,

1)daily washing the souls of His people, daily granting and applying fresh supplies of mercy.


C) Not a bone broken- Blood produced in bone Marrow


So John declares the Mission of the Logos{ Lamb


v.30 This is He of whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me.

A) Reiterating his statement of verse 15, John refers to the eternal nature of Jesus.


B)EVEN though I am six month’s older – Because He is preferred before me because, He really was before me – Eternal one.


RD v.31 -34

31I did not know Him; {John is saying I didn’t know who He was – but God was going to give me a sign} but that He should be revealed to Israel, therefore I came baptizing with water.”


This would be the sign

32And John bore witness, saying, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him. 33I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.”


John is saying that Jesus is the real Baptizer. We might call Him Jesus the Baptizer.

A)He is the One who will baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire.


B) The one that the HS remains on-


C)Interesting to note that the first Picture of the HS as a dove is seen in Genesis –

1)Noah sent out the Dove- sent out the Dove over the face of the waters looking for a place to rest


D)Since the fall in the Garden the HS has been doing that ––

1) OT He came upon individuals but didn’t remain. Empowered but left them –


E) But With Jesus the HS remained – John uses the phrase the HS remained on him

1) Same thing is granted of us.


The ministry of Jesus did not start until after his Baptism – HS descended on Him  - remained

A)Being filled with the Spirit …….. wilderness


B) Jesus as a man made Himself dependant upon the HS in the same way that we are.


C) He was baptized in the Spirit – the same way that we are to be Baptized in the Spirit.


D) Need for the Baptism of the HS

1) Have you been baptized with the Spirit ?


In the encounter recorded in this Gospel, John the Baptist accomplished three objectives:

(1) he firmly denied being the Christ;

(2) he identified himself as the herald predicted by Isaiah, who would announce the Messiah;

(3) he Publically announced the presence of the Messiah, and His mission – Lamb of God ….