May 23, 2007
1st Baptist Church,
Des Moines, NM
Christ is Greater Than All
Hello again- Bryan Kimsey here, co-pastor of 1st Baptist Church in Des Moines. Today I want to show you a fascinating progression of statements from the book of John. Too often, people have the idea that the Christ, Jesus of Nazareth was nothing more than a very learned man, a gifted teacher, or perhaps just one in a long line of prophets. Christ was far, far more than this as we’re about to see. Let’s look at this progression through the book and John and see what the Bible shows us.
If you have a Bible with you, turn to the book of:
John 1:19-30 Now this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, "Who are you?" (20) He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, "I am not the Christ." (21) And they asked him, "What then? Are you Elijah?" He said, "I am not." "Are you the Prophet?" And he answered, "No." (22) Then they said to him, "Who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?" (23) He said: "I am 'THE VOICE OF ONE CRYING IN THE WILDERNESS: "MAKE STRAIGHT THE WAY OF THE LORD," ' as the prophet Isaiah said." (24) Now those who were sent were from the Pharisees. (25) And they asked him, saying, "Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?" (26) John answered them, saying, "I baptize with water, but there stands One among you whom you do not know. (27) It is He who, coming after me, is preferred before me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose." (28) These things were done in Bethabara beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing. (29) The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! (30) This is He of whom I said, 'After me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me.'
Note something here. John is baptizing with water and preaching repentance. This got the attention of the Pharisees who then approached John and asked him “Who are you?”. John answers in a series of denials- “I am not the Christ”, “I am not Elijah”, “I am not the Prophet.” John explains that he is a fulfillment of a prophecy uttered by Isaiah which you can find in Chapter 40 of the book of Isaiah. John says he is there to “make straight the way of the Lord.” Note carefully what he says then: “He who is coming after me is preferred before me”, and, “After me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me.” In these statements, John is stating that Jesus is greater than him. That is, Christ is greater than John the Baptist. Christ is greater than the one preaching repentance and baptizing with water. Make note of that and let’s move forward to our next passage.
In Chapter 4 of John, we see Jesus in Samaria.
John 4:6-26 Now Jacob's well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, sat thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour. (7) A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, "Give Me a drink." (8) For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. (9) Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, "How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?" For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans. (10) Jesus answered and said to her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, 'Give Me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water." (11) The woman said to Him, "Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water? (12) Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?" (13) Jesus answered and said to her, "Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, (14) but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life." (15) The woman said to Him, "Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw." (16) Jesus said to her, "Go, call your husband, and come here." (17) The woman answered and said, "I have no husband." Jesus said to her, "You have well said, 'I have no husband,' (18) for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly." (19) The woman said to Him, "Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. (20) Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship." (21) Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. (22) You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. (23) But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. (24) God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." (25) The woman said to Him, "I know that Messiah is coming" (who is called Christ). "When He comes, He will tell us all things." (26) Jesus said to her, "I who speak to you am He."
Note here that the woman says to Jesus “are you greater than our father Jacob?” The woman is calling Jacob her “father” and thus claiming spiritual lineage with him. Jacob is a critical and extremely important figure in Biblical history. Jacob is the one who wrestled with God and said “Won’t let you go until you bless me” and he’s the one who God then called Israel. When God appears to Moses at the burning bush in Exodus 3:6, He tells Moses “I am the God of your fathers- the God of Abraham, the God of Issac, and the God of Jacob”. You will find this phrase nearly 100 times throughout the Bible. Therefore, when the woman asks Jesus “Are you greater than our father Jacob?” she is giving him quite a challenge. Jesus doesn’t answer her directly right away but, as is typical of the way He often answered questions, He answers in an oblique and ultimately a more satisfying manner. In this case, he demonstrates his knowledge of her intimate life. This prompts the woman to acknowledge that that when Messiah comes, he will tell them all things. Jesus replies with an astonishing statement “I who speak to you am He”. Translated literally, this statement reads “I AM, who speak to you” and this is one of the great “I AM” statements. So, what’s happening here is that Jesus is not just saying, but actually demonstrating Himself to be greater than Jacob.
Next, we’ll move to John Chapter 8 where the Pharisees are arguing with Jesus (arguing with Jesus, by the way, is the definition of “futility”)
John 8:52-58 Then the Jews said to Him, "Now we know that You have a demon! Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and You say, 'If anyone keeps My word he shall never taste death.' (53) Are You greater than our father Abraham, who is dead? And the prophets are dead. Who do You make Yourself out to be?" (54) Jesus answered, "If I honor Myself, My honor is nothing. It is My Father who honors Me, of whom you say that He is your God. (55) Yet you have not known Him, but I know Him. And if I say, 'I do not know Him,' I shall be a liar like you; but I do know Him and keep His word. (56) Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad." (57) Then the Jews said to Him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?" (58) Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM."
You’d better believe that the Pharisees absolutely reeled at Jesus’ statement!! “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” He is not only claiming to be greater than Abraham- the father of faith, the father of the Jewish nation, the father of these Pharisees- but he is actually making the statement “I AM”. In this context, as with the Samaritan woman, the statement “I AM” means literally “I always was, I always am, and I always will be”, in other words, simply “I AM!”. No one can say “I AM” in that context but God Himself. Remember God at the burning bush when Moses said “Who shall I say sent me?” and God answers “I AM who I AM”. So, here Christ is claiming to be not only greater than Abraham but far greater than Abraham. Notice the progression we’ve seen through John- Christ is greater than John the Baptist, then greater than Jacob, then greater than Abraham.
Let’s move to John Chapter 9. Jesus has healed a blind man on the Sabbath and the Pharisees have called the blind man up and are trying to get him to discredit Jesus because he healed on the Sabbath.
John 9:15-17 Then the Pharisees also asked him again how he had received his sight. He said to them, "He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and I see." (16) Therefore some of the Pharisees said, "This Man is not from God, because He does not keep the Sabbath." Others said, "How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?" And there was a division among them. (17) They said to the blind man again, "What do you say about Him because He opened your eyes?" He said, "He is a prophet."
The blind man has just claimed that Jesus is a prophet. Unlike today where you can find so-called “prophets” all over the supermarket tabloids, calling a man a “prophet” in those times was a serious, serious thing. The blind is basically telling the Pharisees “You’d better listen to this Jesus! To ignore him is to ignore God.” So, the Pharisees cast the man out of the synagogue and this, too, was a serious, serious thing.
John 9:35-38 Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when He had found him, He said to him, "Do you believe in the Son of God?" (36) He answered and said, "Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?" (37) And Jesus said to him, "You have both seen Him and it is He who is talking with you." (38) Then he said, "Lord, I believe!" And he worshiped Him.
Do you see the significance of this passage? This blind man is very aware of what Scripture says and regarding God, it says, “You shall worship no other God, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God” (Exodus 34:14). This is, of course, is what the first of the 10 Commandments says- “You shall have no other gods before me…for I, the Lord, am a jealous God.” For this formerly blind Jew to kneel before Christ in worship is essentially the same as him proclaiming Christ as God. And since he previously called Christ a prophet, he is now recognizing that Christ is greater than the prophets.
So, in the book of John, we can see an increasing progression- Jesus is greater than John who baptizes with water and preaches repentance of sins. He’s greater than Jacob, to whom the final Old Testament covenant was given which established the Jewish nation. He’s greater than Abraham, who was the father of faith and the start of the Jewish convents. And finally, Christ is greater than all the prophets. Now, I ask you- if Christ is greater than all of these, then why do we need additional prophets? Why do we need legalism? Why do we need fleshly convents? Why, indeed, do we need anything else, if we personally have Christ of whom John the Baptist said “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” If we have Christ, we have everything. And if we do not have him, we really have…nothing.
If you do not have Christ, get him.
Let’s pray: Our sovereign and almighty God, thank for your blessings. Thank you for sending your only begotten son into the world to our Passover Lamb and take away our sins. May the light of Christ shine into darkened hearts and open blind eyes to your glory. In the name of the Christ, Jesus of Nazareth, Son of God, our savior, amen.
Back to KLMX sermon, May 22, 2007, The Greatest Commandment
Forward to KLMX sermon, May 24 2007, Justified by Faith