John answered them, “I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know”
I want to write to you this morning about something that set me thinking recently when I read the passage on John the Baptist’s words concerning our Lord, as above.
The men John were speaking to did not know or recognise that Jesus was among them, and that is still the same today. There are millions of people who do not know that Christ is among them, yet He can be seen clearly if they only had the eyes to see.
His Presence and His power and influence are manifested in all the wonders of Creation, and His Providence can be traced throughout all the periods of world history. Yet millions of people see these things, but they do not understand who is responsible. “Among you stands one you do not know.” He is there, but He is either not recognised, or He is dismissed and disregarded.
During this pandemic we have all been moved to hear how thousands of people have been more than willing to put their own lives in danger in order to save others from the terrible suffering from this virus. We see doctors and nurses especially, seeking desperately to save people’s lives. They do this, not only for good and worthy people, but also for the worst people in society. They see them as human beings who need help and they are willing to make immense sacrifices to protect them and keep them alive. This kind of thing has happened down the ages as some of the best and some of the most deplorable people in society have been helped and treated by others who have put their own lives on the line. Many of them even dying in the process. Why does that happen? Why would anyone try to save another human being, whether good or bad, and bring them back from suffering and death? What motivates such kindness and willingness?
Evolution doesn’t give us the answer, nor does atheism, and sadly neither do many religions. The answer is to be seen in the Biblical teaching concerning the nature of man since the fall. We have all been created with the image of God in our nature, and although sin has affected every part of man’s being there are still elements of goodness and kindness which remain inbuilt into him. We sometimes describe it as ‘common grace.’ Our sense of morality and of right and wrong, together with our conscience, have been placed there by God in His grace and kindness. Yet how many of those caring and kind and even heroic people, or the ones they seek to help and those who admire them for doing so, realise that a sense of care and concern is there because of a God-given nature? There stands One among them who they do not know. Nor do they know that their good works, however noble, can never bring about salvation from the power and the eternal consequence of sin. That needs the Lord Jesus Christ in all the completion of His finished work. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9). The Word of God also teaches us: “For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:7-8)
The Lord Jesus came into this world in order to seek and to save that which is lost, and although He has ascended into heaven, He is still present by His Spirit.
His Spirit is at work every day and especially when we worship and sit under the ministry of the Word of God. In those worship services the Lord’s people can be taken up with hearing God speak to them, and yet at the same time others are sitting under the same ministry and they are yawning with boredom. “Among you stands one you do not know.”
Sadly there are millions in this world of whom it can still be said: “Among you stands one you do not know.”
But we can know Him, by seeing Him as He is presented to us in Scripture – in which God has declared that He will save all who turn to Him in repentance and faith.
“He came sweet influence to impart,
A gracious willing guest,
While He can find one humble heart
wherein to rest.
And His that gentle voice we hear,
Soft as the breath of even,
That checks each fault, that calms each fear,
And speaks of heaven.”
In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:10)
Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)