Good to see all of our regular members back. If you would, please open your bibles to the book of John chapter 1. The title of my sermon for today is, “The Role of a Good Herald”. You might not know what a herald is, being that it isn’t a very widely used term in our generation.
A herald was a messenger for a king. He was one who usually would be sent out with a message to proclaim to the people. His task was to faithfully go through the villages and proclaim publicly whatever it was he was commanded to share. A little bit like the public spokesman of the white house with the exception that his power extends a bit longer. A herald during the time of the bible would also prepare the way for the king when he would later go on a trip.
This being said, let us focus our attention on John chapter 1 verses 6-8. Obviously the writer introduces us now to a new character. After giving focus to the credibility of Jesus he changes focus to the story of John the Baptist. Remember, while reading this text, that the author of this letter is not John the Baptist, it is John the apostle. John the Baptist died before he knew the whole story of Jesus. John the apostle says that here was once a man named John the Baptist who was sent to testify to the light as well as meant to be a “herald”. Now John the Baptist was not the light. He was not the Messiah, the being that was to come. Some thought as such, but he knew better. In verse 1 we read…, and in verse 26-27…
We can see that John pointed the finger away from himself. He pointed the finger at the true Messiah and in verse 29 we read about him saying, “…” So John’s mission was to keep saying, “Jesus is the lamb of God. He is the one that will take away our sins!”
Now with this information we get to verse 35 and here is what we read, “read verse 35-49”. As you look at all of this what repetitive pattern is formed?
Maybe you will find that Jesus was encountered personally by all the disciples. Maybe we need to realize today that Jesus has to be a personal savior for all of us. You see if Jesus is going to be any savior at all to any of us, he will have to be a personal savior.
You look and you tell me if what I am saying is wrong. Look at this text and the people around you! It’s an amazing thing! Jesus can mean everything to your wife and nothing to you. Jesus can mean everything to mom and dad, and nothing to you. Or Jesus can be the treasure of your life and mean nothing at all to the people around you. It would be an amazing thing if the faith and righteousness of my wife could take away my sins before God. It would be a delightful thing if faith and righteousness on the part of mom and dad could make children right in the sight of the Lord. It simply doesn’t work that way.
Andrew became a follower. Just because Andrew became a follower doesn’t mean that Andrews brother is automatically made a follower. Peter had to come and see Jesus with his own eyes and make a decision as to whether or not he would follow Jesus. Philip became a follower. Just because Philip became a follower it doesn’t necessarily mean his friend Nathanial will be a follower. Nathanial has to come and see Jesus with his own eyes and make the decision to follow Jesus or not for himself. No one can believe for you today. No one can have faith for you. You’ve got to see Jesus with your own eyes. You must accept Him as your personal savior. Perhaps that is what we can see in this passage. All of the people we see here will become heralds of the King. The lesson here, however, is there are no heralds that don’t personally know about their savior!
The second pattern I detect. The message the heralds were proclaiming.
Nowhere else in the scriptures do I see it lay out as clearly as in this chapter. You see being a herald means pointing the way to Jesus. Nowadays we think of Christians as people who sit week after week in the pews of a church. We think of them, perhaps, as the one who do good works in the community, who organize shelters and meals for the needy. That’s part, its true, of being a Christian, but there is so much more to being a Christian.
Being a Christian is to be a herald that points verbally to Jesus. That’s exactly what John did! John would say, “look! There He is, the lamb of God.” Andrew would say, “Peter! We have found the lamb of God!” Philip would become a preacher to his friend Nathaniel. They all pointed the way to Jesus.
Do you remember my sermon last week? I spent all of my time talking about Jesus being the word the light and the life. I said this world would spend all of its energy seeking to find life but that somehow they will not see that abundant life in Jesus right in their backyard. Maybe it’s because of us. You see we have come to believe that all you have to do is live a good life and be a good example to the world. That is good, but let me say that it is not enough. Your good life is only a way to give credibility to your message. It is only a way to assure that hypocrisy doesn’t discourage someone from listening to you!
The bible says, “who will call on him if they too don’t believe? And how will they believe if they do not hear of him? And how will they hear of him if no one preaches? So faith comes from seeing! No, faith comes from hearing and what you hear has to come from the word of Christ.” Romans 10:16 and 17.
Do you remember back in Math class when we did the story problems? They were called thought problems because you couldn’t immediately take and equation and give an answer, you had to think on it for awhile. I can remember taking this class in highschool. Day after day we would do those problems. I hated it. I would get these little tests and they didn’t make any sense. “If there are 3 birds flying in V formation in the sky, how long will it take them to cross the ocean at an altitude of 5,000 feet? Remember the strength of the wind, the body weight of the ducks and the part that our grandfather’s propeller airplane did it in 15 h 10’ 12” in the same conditions.” I tell you that more than once I saw the teacher after class for help! You know, they would sit with me and in 4” they would make sense of that mess which would make it seem so simple. By me it was unsolvable, but with them it was a very simple thing. My eyes were opened. You see, that’s what we are to do for people in this dark world. As heralds we have the responsibility to point them to the light, to the life!
Have you ever tried at night to look at the stars and recognize constellations? Have you been very good at it? I haven’t…at least not alone. I remember a time I was with a friend at a retreat. He would say, “look here at the great dipper”. I would look and see nothing unusual. So he would say, “look at that cooking pan. There is the handle, and there is the pot.” That is what I am to do as a herald. A herald keeps on pointing and he keeps on talking people through his message. We are to help people see life in Jesus Christ.
I see a third point in the text. The third pattern you see when those people found life, in John 1, is that they were thrilled.
They were so excited that the immediately shared it with their close friends. I have lived my life in the church. I have seen people continually been divided about issues. It seems like every church has its own issues that create a problem.
Just last week I was hearing about a church having problems due to the use of a room. I was hearing of another where some of the members were threatening to leave due to the kind of pews the leadership wanted to use. There are so many silly issues in our churches. Yet these silly problems destroy us. It seems to me that the answer to all the silly problems in the church is right in the first chapter of the gospel of John.
You see if we would embrace the pattern we find there, I doubt we would have much time to argue the issues. We certainly would not have to worry about members leaving the church due to those silly issues. The basic principle I see here, is that when these people found life they were ecstatic. Sharing this new found life consumed them! They wanted nothing else but to share it!
Let’s assume that tomorrow you go to your mother and you find that you have one a million dollar check. I’ve never known anyone to win one of those lottery games. I’ve known plenty of people who entered these contests, but never anyone who has won more than they have spent playing the game. Let’s just assume that tomorrow you are one of these people who happen to win. You find out you have won a certain sum of money to be given you every year for the rest of your life. Would you be excited? Would you drop the silly problems you have at home and pick up the phone to call you husband at work? Would you want to call you mom or dad or your brothers and sisters? Would you run to your next door neighbor and tell him or her about it? I think the answer would be a “yes!”. You would be excited enough to find others to talk about it.
Andrew found more than money, he found life! The first thing he did was find his brother and tell him the good news. Philip found more than an opportunity, he found life! The very same day he found his friend Nathanial and told him about this life!
Can you imagine if we had 50 buses for this congregation? I’m not talking about the bus ministries we had in the 70’s. I’m talking about if we had 50 cars or 50 people willing to take someone with them to church. Can you imagine what that would do to our congregation? Not only ours, but any congregation? If half of us did this, would we have the time to argue about seating arrangements? I don’t think so!
So here we have 3 basic truths about a herald. The first is that a herald knows personally his Lord. Do you know Him personally? The second is that a herald has a message that points to Jesus. Do you point to Jesus and speak about Him? The 3rd is that when a herald found life, they were excited enough to share their good news with everyone. Do you?
I want to say today that the life we have in Jesus is for everyone. Your background doesn’t matter; your social status. If you’ve never found worth in this life you’ll find worth in Christ.
A while back a baseball pitcher got hired by a big team in California which astounded everyone. You see, the baseball pitcher was a left handed pitcher for the Seattle Mariners and his previous year’s record was 16 wins and 14 losses. Not very impressive. At best, ordinary. In fact, his lifetime record was 86 wins and 76. But this man Mark Lexton was hired by the California Angels for 16,000,000 dollars. It was the highest salary ever given to a player at the time. Everyone was amazed! Why pay Mark Lexton this kind of money? The California Angels said it like this, “Mark Lexton has been playing ball for the Seattle Mariners and they have never been a very good team. In fact, they have been a poor team. But we believe that if we could get Mark out of this environment and into our team, he would shine and be one of the best pitchers baseball has ever seen. He is worth 16,000,000$ in this new environment!”
That’s exactly what the scriptures talk about. You see, if you come out of your old environment with all of your problems and all of your sins; with all that unworthiness and inadequacy you feel, to the new environment in Jesus Christ, suddenly you become very very special. That is what I want to invite you to today.
If you are here and haven’t seen the light, come out and take a good look at it. Be baptized and allow Him to make you a new man; a beautiful creature worth incredibly more than you could ever imagine. Let us stand and sing. Respond by coming forth if you need to.