Stay In Your Lane: The Borders & Boundaries of Your Calling & Identity

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel narrative of the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ it was written and recorded by the apostle John. More specifically, today’s passage is found in verses twenty-nine through fifty-one of the first chapter. “The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me. And I knew him not: but that he should be manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water. And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God” (John 1:29-34).

 

            “Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples; and looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God! And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye? They said unto him, Rabbi, (Which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where dwellest thou? He saith unto them, Come and see. They came and saw where he dwelt, and abode with him that day: for it was about the tenth hour. One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, The Christ. And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone” (John 1:35-42).

 

            “The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow me. Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip findeth Nathaniel, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets die write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. And Nathanel said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of. Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see. Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile! Nathanael saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him< Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee. Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel. Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? Thou shalt see greater things than these. And he saith unto him, Verily, verily I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see haven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man” (John 1:43-51).

 

 

            When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will find a powerful transition taking place within the opening chapter of the New Testament gospel written by the apostle John. Upon reading the words found here in this passage of Scripture you will find a a continuation of the declaration, testimony and witness of the Lord Jesus Christ and you will find it coming directly through the mouth of John the Baptist. The more I read the opening chapter of this New Testament gospel the more I am brought face to face with the absolutely incredible presence of both the Word and the witness. You cannot read the first chapter of this gospel written by the apostle John without encountering and coming face to face with the presence of the Word which was in the beginning, the Word was in the beginning with God, and the Word which in the beginning was God. This eternal Word was not only in the beginning with God, but it is through the Word that all things which are made are made and have their existence. It is truly wonderful and powerful to read the words found in this portion of Scripture and to discover how the apostle John sought to begin his narrative of the life and ministry of Jesus beyond the realm of time and space and in the realm of eternity. When the apostle John sought to present a record of the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ he did so seeking to underscore and highlight the eternal and divine nature of the Lord Jesus Christ. While it is true that the apostle Matthew sought to underscore Jesus as the Son of David and the Son of Abraham, and while it is true the beloved physician Luke sought to highlight Jesus as the Son of God, and while it is also true John Mark sought to demonstrate Jesus as the Christ and Son of the living God, the apostle John sought to demonstrate Jesus as the living and eternal Word which existed in the beginning with God the Father and which was in the beginning God.

 

            The more I read the words found in this passage of Scripture the more I am brought face to face with the truly wonderful and powerful truth that this gospel seeks to focus on and highlight Jesus as being both eternal and divine. The apostle John makes absolutely no mention of the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ, and much like John Mark seeks to present Jesus as the Son of God and the Christ. The apostle John sought to begin this gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus with a declaration that Jesus was in the beginning, thus indicating that Jesus existed before anything that was made was in fact made. You cannot read the gospel narrative written by the apostle John and not be brought face to face with this truly wonderful truth, for it is presented within and throughout the entire gospel. Time and time again within this gospel you will find declarations made by Jesus concerning His identity—and not only His identity, but also His eternal nature as the eternal Son of God. In fact, it was these declarations and statement Jesus made concerning Himself that angered and infuriated both the Jews in Judaea, as well as the religious leaders present during that day. In all reality, it is something worth nothing that the apostle John would emphasize this particular truth at the outset and beginning of his gospel, for when presenting Jesus to his audience he sought to bring them past the stumbling block and offense that was the identity of the Lord Jesus Christ. The apostle John was indeed a witness to the tremendous opposition and persecution which was lobbied against Jesus the Christ—not only because of the works which He performed in the earth, but also because of the statements and declarations He made concerning Himself. If you read the gospel narratives written by these four authors you will find Jesus making some pretty incredible declarations concerning Himself—declarations which would strike at the very heart of the hearts and minds of the Jews present in Judaea during those days.

            If you turn and direct your attention to the sixteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew you will find him presenting a powerful exchange which took place between Jesus and His disciples in Caesarea Philippi. As you read the words found in this chapter you will find that it was there in Caesarea Philippi Jesus would initially ask His disciples whom men said that He the Son of man was. The disciples would respond to Jesus’ question with the opinions of others which were expressed during those days. Undoubtedly as the disciples walked with Jesus they would have heard the countless opinions of and concerning Jesus and what men and women truly thought of and believed concerning Him. The apostles would respond to Jesus based on what they heard others state concerning Jesus and who He truly was. This would include the disciples declaring unto Jesus how some though He was John the Baptist risen from the grave, while others thought He would Jeremiah the ancient Hebrew prophet. Still there were others who thought Jesus was Elijah or perhaps even that prophet written and spoken about in the Old Testament. Jesus—upon hearing the statements and declarations of the disciples—would transition this exchange to a more personal nature as He would ask them who they said that He the Son of man was. After hearing the opinions of others concerning Him Jesus sought to hear what the disciples said and what the disciples believed concerning Him. Having walked with and followed Him, having heard and listened to His teaching, His sermons and His parables, and having witnessed His works which were wrought in the earth Jesus wanted to know what the disciples did in fact believe concerning him. Of course we know from Scripture that it would be Simon called Peter who would speak up and emphatically declare that Jesus was the Christ and the Son of the living God. Consider if you will this narrative as it was written and presented by the apostle Matthew in this particular gospel:

 

            “When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou s halt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ” (Matthew 16:13-20).

 

            It is absolutely necessary that we recognize and pay attention to this particular narrative and exchange between Jesus and His disciples, for perhaps one of the greatest encounters we can have within our lives is when we are asked the same question concerning Jesus. In fact, if you consider what many have referred to as “the sinner’s prayer” you will find that this is quite honestly more than simply a confession of sins, transgressions and iniquities, and even a request of Jesus to forgive us of our sins and the wrongs we have committed against Him. This “sinner’s prayer” is more than simply what men and women have referred to as “inviting Jesus into our heart(s)” as at the very heart and center of this prayer is the belief within our hearts that Jesus is indeed who He said He was and who the gospel and New Testament authors wrote and proclaimed concerning Him. When we make the decision to pray such a prayer we are quite honestly doing something far greater than confessing our sins and asking the Lord Jesus to forgive us and cleanse us. As we make the commitment to pray this prayer we are indeed confessing and professing a faith and belief in the person of Jesus and are declaring that He is who He said He was, and that He is who the New Testament authors proclaimed Him to be. It is this reality that is expressed within the tenth chapter of the New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Rome, as well as a further declaration which was found in the New Testament epistle written by Paul unto the saints which were at Philippi. Before I delve any further into what is found in the first chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John I would like to call your attention to the words which are found in the tenth chapter of the epistle written by Paul unto the Romans, as well as the words which are found in the second chapter of the epistle written by the same apostle unto the saints which were at Philippi:

 

            “But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe on him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” (Romans 10:8-15).

 

            “If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, fi any bowels and mercies, fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:1-11).

 

            Please pay close attention to the words found in this passage of Scripture, for the words presented here in this portion of Scripture bring us face to face with something that was found within the sixteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel written by the apostle Matthew. It was in this chapter of the gospel written by Matthew we find Simon called Peter making a confession, a profession and declaration with his mouth concerning Jesus—namely, that Jesus was both the Christ and the Son of the living God. When Jesus heard the words spoken by Peter He would not only call him blessed, but He would also declare unto Peter that flesh and blood had not revealed this unto him, but His Father in heaven. We must needs recognize and pay close attention to this, for it serves as the foundation and catalyst for what is presented in the tenth chapter of the epistle written unto the Roman saints. It is in this epistle written by the saints which were at Rome the apostle Paul would speak of believing in our hearts that Jesus was raised from the dead, as well as confessing with our mouths the Lord Jesus. The apostle made it very clear that salvation comes through belief and confession—belief in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, and confession that Jesus is Lord. Please do not miss and lose sight of this as it draws and calls our attention to the powerful nature surrounding our confession, for the apostle Paul did not write concerning the confession of Jesus as Savior, nor even Jesus as Christ, nor even Jesus as the Son of God, but rather Jesus as Lord. Oh dear reader mark my words and mark them well, for one of the greatest declarations we can make with our mouths is that of Jesus being Lord—and not only Lord of all, but Lord within our own heart and life. There is perhaps no greater declaration we can make within our lives than that of Jesus being Lord—and not merely Lord, but Lord over everything we are, everything we hope to be, and everything He is changing and transforming us into.

 

            I sit here today thinking about and considering this particular reality of the confession and profession of Jesus being the Christ and Son of the living God, as well as Jesus being Lord, and I can’t help but be drawn to the opening chapter of the New Testament gospel written by the apostle John. It is in this opening chapter the apostle John seeks to clearly present Jesus as more than simply the son of a carpenter from Nazareth, and as more than simply a good man, and even more than a prophet. When the apostle John set forth to write his gospel narrative of the life and ministry of Jesus he sought to paint the powerful picture that Jesus was the eternal Word who was in the beginning, who was in the beginning with God, and who was God in the beginning. What’s more, is the apostle John set forth to write and demonstrate Jesus as being the Word which was made flesh and dwelt among us. Not only this, but the apostle John would also set forth at the very beginning of the gospel narrative written by his own hand that Jesus was indeed the image of the invisible God in the flesh, and that those who lived during those days beheld His glory, which was the glory of the only begotten of the Father. It would be later on in this gospel Jesus would emphatically declare unto His disciples that if they have seen Him they have seen the Father. We must needs recognize and understand this, for it is something truly powerful to think about and consider the fact that when Jesus took upon Himself the seed of Abraham and the form of human flesh He did so becoming the actual tangible manifestation of God in the flesh. It was the ancient Hebrew prophet Isaiah who would prophesy concerning this child which would be born unto the virgin and when speaking of His name would refer to Him as “Immanuel,” which translated literally means “God with us.” It would be as early as the seventh chapter of the prophetic book of Isaiah that we are brought face to face with the truth surrounding Jesus and how His taking upon Himself the form of human flesh was literally the manifestation of the eternal God being with us in the flesh.

 

Oh with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the seventh and ninth chapters of the Old Testament prophetic book of Isaiah, as well as the words which are found in the first and second chapters of the New Testament epistle written unto the Hebrews. I am absolutely and completely convinced that if we truly wish to understand that which is at the very heart of what we find in the opening chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle John we must have this core foundation concerning the identity of Jesus and who the ancient prophets proclaimed Him to be, who He would proclaim Himself to be, as well as whom the apostle Peter and John the Baptist would proclaim concerning Jesus. It is important when reading the four gospel narratives that there were certain declarations which were made concerning the Lord Jesus Christ—not only from His own lips, but also from others which were present during those days. Perhaps one of the most remarkable truths surrounding the four gospel narratives is when you consider that there were even instances when the demons and unclean spirits which tormented and oppressed would proclaim Jesus as being the Son of the living God. You cannot read the four gospel narratives without finding John the Baptist being the first to speak of and proclaim the nature and identity of the Lord Jesus Christ, which would be immediately followed by the declaration of the Father concerning Jesus at the Jordan River. Not only this, but you will also find Simon called Peter making two specific declarations concerning the Lord Jesus Christ—one which is found in the sixteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew, and another which is found in the sixth chapter of the New Testament gospel written by the apostle John. Furthermore you will find in the opening chapter of this gospel narrative written by the apostle John men such as Andrew and Nathanael making some pretty incredible declarations concerning Jesus. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the Old Testament prophetic book written by the prophet Isaiah, as well as the words which are found in the New Testament epistle written unto the Hebrews:

 

Therefore the LORD Himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good. For before the child shall know how to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorest shall be forsaken of both her kings” (Isaiah 7:14-16).

 

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God, the everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this” (Isaiah 9:6-7).

 

God, who at sundery times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son? And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him. And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire. But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast last the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands: they shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; and as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail. But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool? Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?” (Hebrews. 1:1-14).

 

For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak, but one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? Or the son of man, that thou visitest him? Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands: thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower thant he angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee. And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me. Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of dath, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them them that are temped” (Hebrews 2:5-18).

 

It is absolutely necessary that we pay close attention to the words found in these passages of Scripture, for through the prophet Isaiah we encounter and come face to face with the awesome truth that Jesus is indeed the physical embodiment of the divine glory and presence of the living God and was God in the flesh. When Jesus took upon Himself the seed of Abraham and when Jesus took upon Himself the form of flesh and blood the divine nature of the triune Godhead and its fulness was present within the form of a physical and natural man within and upon the earth. We must needs recognize and understand this, for it brings us face to face with the truth surrounding Jesus and His being God in the flesh who dwelt among us in this life. It is truly something worth thinking about and considering—particularly and especially when reading the opening chapter of the gospel written by the apostle John—for at the very beginning of this gospel we find the apostle John writing concerning Jesus that He was the Word which became flesh and dwelt among us. Jesus—as the Word which became flesh and dwelt among us—was the physical embodiment of the divine glory and presence of God the Father within and upon the earth. It would be through Jesus that God Himself would come down among and dwell with us in the form of physical and natural flesh. For thirty years God would dwell with us in obscurity as He would literally walk through and do life with us as we would experience it. For thirty years Jesus was in the flesh among us in the town of Nazareth and men would not be aware that dwelling among them would literally be God in the flesh. Oh pause for a moment and think about that particular truth, for Jesus would live and dwell in Nazareth for thirty years among men and women and none present there save Mary and Joseph would know who He truly was.

 

With all of this being said it is worth thinking about and considering the language that is found in the opening chapter of the gospel written by the apostle John, for within this gospel we are brought face to face with the wonderful truth concerning Jesus—and not only concerning Jesus but concerning the declarations which were made concerning Him. You cannot read the opening chapter of the gospel written by the apostle John and not encounter that which the apostle John wrote concerning Jesus, as well as the declarations which were made concerning Him. Here in this opening chapter we find multiple instances when John the Baptist would make truly wonderful and remarkable statements concerning the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, as well as the disciples Andrew and Nathanael who would make declarations concerning Jesus. If there is one thing that so intrigues and amazes me when reading the four gospel narratives concerning the life and ministry of Jesus it’s that there were multiple times when men would make declarations concerning Him and His identity. We have already considered the declaration Simon called Peter made in Caesarea Philippi when Jesus asked the disciples who they said that He the Son of man was. We know that Simon Peter spoke up and confessed Jesus as being the Christ and the Son of the living God. If you journey even further into the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John you will find that when Jesus asked His disciples if they too would turn back and walk no more with Him after others themselves turned back no longer to walk with Jesus, you will find Simon Peter asking Jesus where it was they could turn and go, for He alone had the words of eternal life. What’s more, is that Simon Peter would also go on to once more confess Jesus as being the Christ and the Son of the living God.

 

Oh we must needs pay close attention to this particular truth as it forces us into a place where we either believe that Jesus was who He said He was and who others said He was, or we do not. At the very heart of our decision to walk with and follow Jesus is the core belief within our hearts and spirits that Jesus is indeed the Christ, that Jesus is indeed the Son of the living God, and that Jesus is indeed Lord. The same reality which the author of the epistle written unto the Hebrews wrote concerning faith when they wrote that those who come to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him. The author of the epistle written unto the Hebrews made the declaration that without faith it is impossible to please God and would go on to declare that those who would come to God must believe that he is. This reality must needs be recognized and understood concerning Jesus as well, for those who would come to and those who would come after Him must needs believe that He is. What’s more, is that those who wish to come unto Jesus and come after Him must needs believe that He is indeed and is in fact the Christ and the son of the living God. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand this, for if we wish to be those who come after and those who come to Jesus we must needs be those who believe that He is—period.

 

What I find to be so incredible about the words presented unto us in the first chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle John is the presence of the testimony and witness concerning Jesus. Upon reading the words which are found here in this passage of Scripture you will encounter and come face to face with the tremendous presence of the witness and testimony concerning the person of the Lord Jesus Christ and who men proclaimed and declared Him to be. You cannot read this chapter and not be brought face to face with the declarations John the Baptist would make concerning Jesus and His identity as the eternal Son of the living God. We know from reading the words written within the gospel narratives written by the apostle Matthew, John Mark and Luke that John the Baptist spoke of one who was coming after him whose shoe latchet he was not able to unloose. We know from the words which are found in these three gospels that John the Baptist would indeed and would in fact speak of one who would come after him who was greater than he who would baptize with the Holy Ghost and with fire. In fact, I would dare say that if we wish to understand the words which are presented here in this passage of Scripture we must needs turn and direct our attention to the first three gospels and that which is written concerning the declarations which John the Baptist would make concerning this One who would come after him and baptize with the Holy Ghost and with fire. Consider the following words found in the three synoptic gospels written by the apostle Matthew, John Mark and the physician Luke:

 

Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, and were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: and think not to say within yourself, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire” (Matthew 3:5-12).

 

 

John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. And there went out unto him all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins. And John was clothed with camel’s hair, and with a girdle of a skin about his loins; and he did eat locusts and wild honey; and preached, saying, There cometh one mightier than I after me, that latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose. I indeed baptize you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost” (Mark 1:4-8).

 

Then he said to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. And the people asked him, saying, What shall we do then? HE answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise. Then came also publicans to be baptized, and said unto him, Master, what shall we do? And he said unto them, Exact no more than that which is appointed you. And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, and what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely: and be content with your wages. And as the people were in expectation, and all men mused in their hearts of John, whether he were the Christ, or not; John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire: ;whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable” (Luke 3:7-17).

 

Each of these passages of Scripture found within the synoptic gospels point to the words which John the Baptist would indeed proclaim during those days concerning himself, as well as concerning the identity of the One who was to come. John the Baptist recognized and understood that although he baptized men and women in the waters of the Jordan River that there was coming One after him who was mightier than himself. John the Baptist recognized and understood that he was not the Messiah nor the Christ, and that he was sent as a forerunner and messenger who would go before the face of the Messiah who was to come. John recognized and realized that there would be one who would come—although he would not know at exactly what point this Messiah and Christ would come. If there is one thing that is so absolutely incredible about the opening chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle John—and not only that which is found in the first chapter of this gospel, but also that which is found in the third chapter—it’s that John the Baptist knew and understood his identity and who he was. The more you read the four gospel narratives the more you will find that John the Baptist never tried to be someone he wasn’t, nor did he ever attempt to be something or someone greater than he was called and created to be. You might have heard the phrase “Stay in your lane,” and such a phrase is meant to speak unto those to know and understand what lane they have been called to walk in and to remain within that lane. This phrase “Stay in your lane” is indeed a way of telling other people to not overstep their boundaries and to remain exactly where they are. To tell someone to “stay in their lane” simply suggests that they do not try and do more than they are actually able to do. More often than not this concept of “staying in one’s lane” involves our recognizing what we have been called to and choosing to remain and abide within that place.

 

STAY IN YOUR LANE! One of the greatest truths surrounding John the Baptist is that he was one who knew and understood who he was—and not only who he was, but also who he was not. Moreover, John the Baptist also knew and understood that which he had been called to in this life and the purpose the eternal God had ordained and appointed for him. It is absolutely necessary that we recognize and understand this, for if you look at and examine the life and ministry of John the Baptist you will find this twin concept of identity and purpose colliding within his life. One of the greatest truths surrounding John the Baptist is that he recognized who he was and never tried to overstep and move beyond that identity. The Jews would send priests and Levites unto John the Baptist asking him who he was and asking him if he was the Christ, to which he would respond that he was not. John the Baptist recognized and understood that he was but a messenger and forerunner ordained and appointed to go before the face of the Messiah and that he was called to prepare the way and make ready a people for the arrival and manifestation of the person of Jesus the Christ. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this, for it draws and calls our attention to the awesome and powerful truth concerning John the Baptist and that he was one who never sought to overstep his boundaries and that which was ordained and appointed for him. John the Baptist knew who he was and he knew what he was called to do and he deliberately, intentionally and purposefully engaged himself in that reality within his life. There was never a single time when John the Baptist sought to be something he was not, nor something he was never intended or created to be.

 

KNOW WHO YOU ARE! DON’T TRY TO BE SOMEONE YOU’RE NOT! DON’T TRY TO DO SOMETHING YOU WEREN’T CALLED TO DO! CONFESS AND PROFESS CHRIST! PREPARE AND MAKE READY MEN AND WOMEN TO MEET JESUS! In all reality, I am absolutely convinced that there is a great deal we can learn from the life and ministry of John the Baptist concerning our hearts and lives, for John the Baptist was ordained and appointed by the living and eternal God to go before the face of the Messiah and to prepare men and women for His arrival and appearing. John the Baptist didn’t know when the Messiah would be manifested, and yet he remained faithful to his purpose and calling as he would not only baptize men and women in the waters of the Jordan, but he would also preach unto those who would come unto his baptism calling them to repentance and unto fruits worthy of repentance. John the Baptist knew and understood his assignment given him by the living and eternal God, and that he had been called, ordained and appointed by the living God to go before the face of the Messiah in the earth to prepare and make ready for the arrival and appearing of the Messiah. In all reality, I am absolutely and completely convinced that what we find and see within the life of John the Baptist is a powerful picture of that which we as the saints of God and disciples and followers of Jesus are called to in this hour and in the days in which we are living. We know from Scripture that Jesus is indeed coming back and that He is coming back for His Church and for His body. We know that Jesus is going to come back as the Lion of the tribe of Judah, and that there is coming a moment when men and women will look upon the one whom they have pierced and will lament and mourn at His appearing and coming. Oh there is not a doubt in my mind that although we do not know when Jesus will appear and will come back we have indeed and have in fact been called to a ministry and calling similar to that of John the Baptist.

 

The more I think about the words which are found in the opening chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle John the more I am brought face to face with John the Baptist’s declaration concerning the Lord Jesus Christ unto all those who would come unto him. As you read the words found in this opening chapter you get the strong sense that there must have been an incredibly powerful transition that took place within his life and ministry as the words found here in this chapter are entirely and altogether different than what we find in the gospels written by Matthew, Mark and Luke. The question I can’t help but ask myself when reading these words is whether or not these statements and declarations were made after Jesus had come unto him at the Jordan River asking to be baptized by him or before. I find myself wondering if these declarations made by John the Baptist occurred before the heavens were opened unto Jesus, and before the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus in the bodily form of a dove, and even before the Father declared that this was His beloved Son in whom He was well pleased. We know that in the gospels written by Matthew, Mark and Luke John the Baptist speaks about one coming after him who would baptize with the Holy Ghost and with fire, and yet what we find here in the first and third chapters of the gospel written by John are truly incredible language concerning the identity and person of Jesus as the Christ and the Messiah. You cannot read the words written in these two chapters and not encounter and come face to face with the fact that John the Baptist preached repentance unto the remission of sins, and baptized men and women in the waters of the Jordan, however, he would also make some astounding declarations concerning Jesus.

 

The words and language found in this opening chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John are absolutely astounding when you consider that which John the Baptist knew and understood—not only concerning himself, but also concerning Jesus of Nazareth. If there is one thing we can see within this passage of Scripture it’s that through John the Baptist’s understanding of who Jesus was he had a true and proper understanding of who he was. When the priests and Levites were sent by the Pharisees and the leading religious leaders in Jerusalem to inquire concerning who he was he would emphatically respond by declaring that he was not the Messiah nor the Christ. John the Baptist recognized and understood that he was the voice of one crying in the wilderness who was sent to prepare the way for the Lord and make ready a people for His coming and appearing. John the Baptist recognized and understood who he was because he knew and understood who Jesus was. John the Baptist knew who he wasn’t and he knew who he was and it was this knowledge that granted him the freedom to be able to do exactly what the living God called, ordained and appointed him to. This is something we must needs recognize and understand for only to the degree and measure we know who we are and know who we are not can we truly have the freedom to do what we have been called to do. We do ourselves a great injustice and disservice when we not only do not know who we are, but also attempt to be someone and something we are not. There is a great hindrance that takes place within our hearts and lives when we seek to be and become someone we were never created or intended on being. For John the Baptist he knew he was the voice of one crying in the wilderness, and he knew that he was called to prepare the way for the Lord and to make straight a highway—not only for He Himself to come, but for others to come unto Him.

 

I am absolutely captivated with what is found in the first and third chapters of the New Testament gospel written by the apostle John, for what we find within these chapters is an understanding within the heart and mind of John concerning who he was and who Jesus was. As you read the words found in this passage of Scripture you will be brought face to face with the undeniable truth that John the Baptist knew what he was called to do and who he was called to be and he never attempted to overstep and move beyond the borders and boundaries of either. THE BORDERS OF IDENITY AND CALLING! THE BOUNDARIES OF IDENTITY AND CALLING! If there is one thing we must needs recognize and understand it’s that there are certain borders, and there are certain boundaries and parameters around your identity, as well as your calling. Perhaps one of the greatest lessons we must needs learn within our lives is that we are free to be who we are within the parameters and boundaries of our identity given us by the living God, as well as in Christ. There is absolutely no limitation, nor is there any restriction to being who we are within the borders and boundaries of the identity we have been given by the eternal God, and we have the freedom and flexibility to be everything we have been called to be. With this being said we must needs recognize and understand that directly linked and connected to this is our being transformed and conformed into the image of Jesus as our lives our not our own since we have been bought with a price. When the living and eternal God created us He did so with very specific borders, boundaries and parameters and we have not been given the license, nor have we been given the freedom to go and move beyond those. Oh there are those among us who think and feel they can somehow transition beyond the boundaries of their own identity, and yet I am absolutely convinced that such an attempt is both futile and fleeting.

 

What I find within the opening chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle John—and not only what is found in this opening chapter, but also what is found in the third chapter—is a powerful presentation of John the Baptist knowing who he was, knowing who Jesus was, and knowing what he was called to do. I am absolutely and completely convinced that to the degree and measure we know who Christ is we can and will know who we are and what we have been called to in this life. We dare not and must not attempt to deviate from this divine prescription, for to do so would be detrimental and catastrophic—not only to our identity, but also to the calling that is placed upon our lives. There is not a doubt in my mind that because John the Baptist knew who Jesus was it freed, delivered and set him free to be who he was and not be someone he was not. John the Baptist recognized and understood who Jesus was and it was from that revelation and understand that he was able to walk, move and operate in his own identity which was given him by the living and eternal God. The more you read the four gospel narratives the more you will encounter and come face to face with the tremendous truth that John the Baptist was one who did in fact stay in his line and never tried to move and operate outside of what he was called to do and who he was called to be. In all reality, I believe and am convinced that when we know who Jesus truly is it delivers and sets us free to not only proclaim the truth concerning His identity, but it also delivers and sets us free to proclaim who we are. We must needs recognize and realize that our identity is entirely and altogether wrapped up—not only in who Jesus is, but also in our understanding concerning who Jesus is. If we want to truly understand who we are and what we have been called to do we need look no further than the person of Jesus, for it is in Him and in our understand of Him that we are truly able to step into and walk in that which has been ordained and appointed for us.

 

It is with all of this in mind I feel the great need to draw and call your attention to the words which John the Baptist proclaimed in this first and opening chapter, for they not only help us understand who Jesus is, but they also help us understand that which we have been called to within this generation. There is not a doubt in my mind that just as John the Baptist was called and appointed as a forerunner to prepare and make ready a people for the coming and appearing of Jesus, so also have we been called to prepare and make ready a people for the coming and appearing of Jesus. The difference between the two generations, however, is that John the Baptist presented unto those during his day Jesus as the Lamb of God which takes away the sins of the world while we present unto those during our day Jesus as both the Lamb of God, as well as the Lion of the tribe of Judah. When Jesus first came to the earth He came as a suffering servant and as the Lamb of God which takes away the sins of the world, and he would even go so far as to make this declaration on more than one occasion, Within this first and opening chapter of the gospel written by the apostle John we are brought face to face with the tremendous understanding John the Baptist had concerning Christ—and not only the tremendous understanding he had concerning Christ, but also the words and declarations he would make concerning Him. As you read the words which are found in this opening chapter you must needs recognize and understand that which John the Baptist knew and understood concerning Jesus, for his entire identity and calling was intrinsically bound and wrapped up in that truth. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this, for when we understand the words which are found in the first and third chapters of the gospel written by the apostle John we understand that which we have been called to in this life. It is with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the first and third chapters of this gospel concerning the statements and declarations John the Baptist made concerning Jesus based on the revelation and understanding giving unto him:

 

John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me. And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bostom of the Father, he hath declared him” (John 1:15-18).

 

And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ” (John 1:20).

 

He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias. And they which were sent were of the Pharisees. And they asked him, and said unto him, Why baptizes thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet? John answered them saying, I baptize with water: but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not; He it is who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose” (John 1:23-27).

 

The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me. And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water. And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God” (John 1:29-34).

 

Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples, and looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God!” (John 1:35-36).

 

As I prepare to bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely necessary to call your attention to the words which John the Baptist spoke, for when you read the words he declared unto those who came unto him you will essentially find three different streams within it. The first stream you will find within the life and ministry of John the Baptist is that of who he wasn’t, for Scripture declared how John confessed and denied not saying that he was not the Messiah, nor the Christ. This is important for us to recognize and understand, for when we consider the life of John the Baptist we must needs recognize that during those days in which he was appointed unto Judaea and Jerusalem he boldly confessed and proclaimed that he was not the Christ, nor was he the Messiah.  I am absolutely captivated with what is found in this passage of Scripture, for what we find here is John the Baptist declaring and proclaiming what he wasn’t and what he knew himself not to be, as well as what he was. What’s more, is that within this passage we see John the Baptist proclaiming who Jesus is. There is not a doubt in my mind when reading the words found in this passage that the three streams which must be active and present within our hearts and lives are the stream of understanding who we aren’t and weren’t created to be, understanding who we are and who we have been called to be, as well as understand who Jesus is. When we speak of identity we must needs recognize and understand that identity is as much found in who we are as who we are not, and both are rooted and grounded in who Jesus is. We dare not and must not seek to overstep the borders and boundaries of our identity, for we have never been called to be someone we weren’t created to be. The living and eternal God created us to be who we are and He made us exactly as we ought to be without any qualification or equivocation.

 

The more we think about and consider this the more we must needs acknowledge that fact that within this passage—not only do we find John the Baptist proclaiming who Jesus was, but we also find him proclaiming what he was called to do. I am absolutely and completely convinced there is a great need within our hearts and lives to not only understand who Jesus truly is, but also what He has indeed called us to do. We have a great need within our hearts and lives to be men and women who know and understand the borders and boundaries of the call that is upon our lives and never seek to overstep those boundaries. There has been much damage created by men and women who have attempted to overstep and sidestep the borders and boundaries of the call upon their lives. There have been a number of men and women who have attempted to move and transition beyond that which they have been called to do and as a direct result have wreaked havoc in the lives of men and women, as well as within the Church of Jesus Christ. If there is one thing we must needs recognize and understand when reading the words found in this portion of Scripture it’s that John the Baptist knew who he was, he knew who Jesus was, and he knew what he was called to do. Not only this, but those three realities were enough for him and allowed him to move within that realm and sphere of who he was called to be by the one true and living God. Oh that we would be men and women who would recognize and understand who we are, what we are called to do, and who Jesus is, for it is when these three realities work in harmony and unity within us we are able to truly operate in identity and calling.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s