I. Look at what he proclaims
II. Look at what he performs
Mark 1:1-8 The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of
God. 2 It is written in Isaiah the prophet: “I will send my messenger ahead
of you, who will prepare your way”— 3
“a voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’ ” 4 And so John came, baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of
repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 The whole Judean countryside and
all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they
were baptized by him in the Jordan River. 6 John wore clothing made of
camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and
wild honey. 7 And this was his message: “After me will come one more
powerful than I, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop
down and untie. 8 I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
JOIN JOHN ON HIS JOURNEY! I. Look what he proclaims! II. Look what he
Come on! Let’s go! I know you are apprehensive and I know it seems risky, but
I have a good feeling about this. He is just a few hundred yards ahead of us. Let’s catch
up to him and join him!
I know he is rather unappealing to look at...even scary! He wears clothing made
of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist. His diet is a little weird as well.
Did you hear that he [eats] locusts and wild honey?
I think this is his way of drawing attention to himself without drawing attention to
himself, if you know what I mean. He is not showy. He is not pretentious. He is being
relatable so that common people like you and me might follow him and listen to him.
His name is John. Turns out there is a neat story behind how he got his name.
His priest dad was told by an angel— yes, an angel from heaven— that he and his wife
were going to have a child in their old age and his dad did not believe it, so God took
away his dad’s ability to speak. Only after John was born and his dad was asked what his
name would be and he wrote down the name John, then he was able to speak again. So,
the name John came from heaven above!
JOIN JOHN ON HIS JOURNEY!
I. Look at what he proclaims
II. Look at what he performs
2 The same can be said about his work! Do you remember what God announced
through the sainted Prophet Isaiah seven hundred years ago (40:3-4)? “I will send my
messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way”— “a voice of one calling in the
desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’ ” He must have
been referring to John! Look at what John proclaims!
He has been telling people that he is that “voice of one calling in the desert” (Jn
1:23). Of course, anyone can claim to be anyone he wants to be, but he backs it up with
other messages that help prepare the way for the Messiah, like “repent, for the
kingdom of heaven is near” (Mt 3:1) and “produce fruit in keeping with repentance”
(Mt 3:8). Isn’t this what God has told our people ever since our great-grandparents Adam
and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden? All of John’s preaching is consistent with God’s
Everything about John’s message involves humbling himself and exalting the one
called Jesus. When you listen to John, he will say stuff like, “He must become greater;
I must become less. The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is
from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth” (Jn 3:30-31).
About Jesus, not himself, John says, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin
of the world” (Jn 1:29). Talking about this Jesus, John proclaims, After me will come
one more powerful than I, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop
down and untie.
Are you convinced by the words of God and by the words of John that this Jesus
is the Messiah? He seems to check all the boxes so far. People say he was born in
Bethlehem, went to Egypt and then to Nazareth— all prophesied in the Scriptures! There
is the story of when he was a twelve-year-old that he called the Temple “his Father’s
house” and that he could converse quite well with the scholars and teachers. Will he be
the one to crush the serpent Satan’s head? Will he be the one to reign on our father
David’s throne forever? Will he be the one to be “pierced, crushed, punished” for us
“even though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit found in his mouth” (Is
I think we should continue to follow his forerunner so we can learn more about
this Jesus! Why would this camel-coated and insect-ingesting individual who has a name
placed on him by God’s angel and who has been identified as the preparer for, and
proclaimer of, the Messiah identify this Jesus as the fulfillment of all those prophecies if
indeed he was not? What would John have to gain?
Look also at what John performs! And so John came, baptizing in the desert
region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The whole
Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing
their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.
He is doing this new thing called baptism. Have you heard of it? Have you seen
it? Have you been? It is applying simple water from anywhere and announcing the name
of God over young and old alike. John says it is to encourage us to repent of our sins and
to assure us of God’s forgiveness.
John announces why he baptizes: “I came baptizing with water that [Jesus]
might be revealed to Israel” (Jn 1:31). Again, it is all about this guy Jesus! John even
baptized that Jesus! No wonder people call him the Baptist, or the Baptizer.
Come on, after you hear what he has to say, I think you will want to be baptized
by him, too! Come on, let’s join John on his journey!
How can we in the 21st Century join John on his journey since he is no longer
around? Who serves as John the Baptist today? Who is eager to point to Jesus as “the
Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” and who will prepare the way for
As members here at Grace, you have decided to join me and Pastor Bishop on the
journey that leads to heaven. Like John, we wear some funny things sometimes. Like
John, I’ll gladly eat honey, but have never made locusts part of my diet (perhaps Pastor
Bishop has). Hopefully, like John, we have humbled ourselves before you so that you can
find us unpretentious and relatable.
Did either of us receive a name directly from God? Has our ministry been spelled
out on the pages of Holy Scripture? Are we sinless? Of course not, but I hope you have
committed to joining us on our journey by looking at what we proclaim and at what we
We preach the Word of God in its truth and purity and lead you to repent of your
backstabbing, bickering, bloodshed and broken promises in order to be set free from an
eternity in hell and receive the forgiveness Jesus won for us all. We baptize children and
adults with water and the Word, just like John the Baptist, and teach that the bringing and
building of Christian faith is the work of the Holy Spirit. We distribute the Lord’s body
and blood along with bread and wine so that you will be confident that your place in
heaven has been earned for you by his life, death and resurrection and not by your own
Pastor Bishop and I sin and acknowledge it before those we have hurt. We repent
before God of all our wrongdoings and with his full and free forgiveness we move
forward to reflect the love of Christ in our lives. We strive to live in a way that provides
an example for you to follow.
The goal for Pastor Bishop and me, like John the Baptist, is to point you to Jesus.
Our ministry is not about us. It is all about Jesus who gave himself for us. It is all about
his love, his forgiveness, his direction, his instruction, his salvation. As John taught, “He
must become greater; we must become less.”
Mark writes that this is the beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son
of God. Aren’t you glad that you know the beginning, the middle and the end of the
amazing account of how your Savior Jesus won your salvation?