John 1:29-34 Be a revival maker
The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is He on behalf of whom I said, ‘ After me comes a Man who has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me. ’ 31 I did not recognize Him, but so that He might be manifested to Israel, I came baptizing in water.” 32 John testified saying, “ I have seen the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and He remained upon Him. 33 I did not recognize Him, but He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, ‘He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit. ’ 34 I myself have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God.
John the Baptist was a revival maker tasked with ushering in the greatest revival in human history. John’s dedication in studying the Word and his hunger to encounter God in an intimate way made him a forerunner of Christ. In today’s passage, we learn about John’s distinctive characteristics and how we can be a revival maker of our time.
Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!
John saw Jesus coming to him and said things that were foreign and considered as taboo and blasphemous in Jewish culture and doctrine. “Lamb of God” signifies a lamb, the Christ to be killed and given as a sin sacrifice to God. Throughout the history of Israel, no human beings had been used for sin sacrifices.
Concerning the forgiveness of sins, gentiles were never considered candidates of God’s grace; they were beyond the scope of God’s salvation. To the Jewish people, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world was beyond their imagination. It can be said that the teachings of John the Baptist were way ahead of his time. Considering him as unschooled in the de facto standard of Jewish education, his bold proclamation was ground breaking. John made known the purpose of his baptismal ministry which was to reveal the Lamb of God to Israel.
I have seen the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and He remained upon Him.
John was told to embark on the task of revealing the Lamb of God to Israel by way of a baptismal ministry. The sign was to be a dove resting upon the One: I have seen the Spirit (as a dove) descending and remaining upon Him. This was not a vision but a physical sign by way of a dove identifying the Christ without ambiguity. Through the sign of the dove, the association of the Holy Spirit with the Lamb of God was clearly seen. He was not only the Lamb of God, He is One who alone is entrusted with the ministry of the Holy Spirit. As John baptizes using water as medium, Christ will baptize men through the Holy Spirit. The significance of baptism is in its cleansing effect. John uses water as a cleansing agent signifying a moral resolve to repent. Christ uses the Spirit to cleanse and sanctify believers towards godly living.
I myself have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God.
John made the third proclamation that ran against the grain of Jewish beliefs: I myself have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God. The Jews could not accept that God would be incarnated in the flesh, stripped of His immortality and divine privileges for the sake of humanity. John’s role was not just to point Israel in the direction of Christ. But to make known the substance of Christ and His ministry that was never before understood within the realm of Jewish thinking. John had introduced fresh enlightenment and understanding concerning the extent that God would go to reconcile men to Himself. John’s ministry has laid a new foundation of God’s perfect love leading to the revival of the Holy Spirit.
In order to usher in a new revival, revival makers must acquire fresh enlightenment and application of the Word. John ushered in a revival when he enlightened the nation to the revelations concerning the Christ as spoken by prophet Isaiah:
- The incarnation of the Son of God: For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us. Isaiah 9:6
- Christ would be a light of the nations so that … salvation may reach to the end of the earth. Isaiah 49:6
- Christ would be sacrificed like a lamb that is led to slaughter. Isaiah 53:7, 10.
God was bringing a revival to Israel through the incarnation of His Son. However, God could never bring it to pass without John’s fresh reading and application of Isaiah’s prophecies. 33 years on, God was to bring another wave of revival through the outpouring of the Spirit. The apostle Peter enlightened the people through the words of Joel that spoke of the outpouring, “It will come about after this. That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind.“ Joel 2:28
Therefore, revival makers must spend much time in meditation of the word. In so doing, the Spirit enlightens them through the words of scripture causing them to understand God’s plans of revival for our world. Many believers spend the bulk of their time running from place to place, evangelizing, worshipping and attending seminars without adequate time with the Word. Believers must spend at least 30 minutes a day on the Word. Ministers must spend at least 3 hours a day meditating on the Word for their own growth apart from their ministry work. If the minister could not progress in his own spirituality, they are unable to lead the people from revival to revival, and from glory to glory. Believers and ministers must pray to receive the Spirit of enlightenment to know God’s heart more intimately through the Word. In doing so, the Spirit reveals to us the path and the foundations towards the next revival for His people. Revivals do not just comprise greater manifestations of the Spirit. More importantly, it is an awakening of believers towards their call to establish God’s kingdom while looking to their inheritance in heaven. The apostle Paul prayed for believers to experience revival,
That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. Ephesians 1:17-19
Revival makers must meditate on the word with fasting and first be transformed by it. A true revival brings forth change towards godly living as opposed to more manifestations of Spiritual gifts. A revival brings enduring peace, righteousness and prosperity to the nations. It is saddening that some church circles even equate revival with the outpouring of material wealth and blessings. Unless believers unite their hearts to pursue godliness and to do His will, there will be no fresh enlightenment from the Spirit. The Psalmist wrote,
The secret of the Lord is for those who fear Him, and He will make them know His covenant. Psalm 25:14
The secret of Lord refers to the spirit’s enlightenment that brings revival (He will make them know His covenant). Many churchgoers desiring to emerge from their lukewarmness and stagnation pursued revival by claiming the promises and by prayer and fasting. There are also believers who study the Word with an academic spirit, dissecting and discussing the Word not to inform the heart, but the mind. However, unless they come to recognize that revival begins with repentance, there will be no fresh enlightenment from God. John’s Baptismal ministry was not a ministry of salvation, but of repentance: all revivals must first be preceded by believers’ united repentance and commitment to the call of godly living and to accomplish the call.
A fresh enlightenment must bring people towards a more intimate encounter with Christ. Thus, revival makers must develop a hunger for a consistent, intimate and unambiguous encounter with God. Revival makers of the bible encountered God in intimate and unambiguous ways.
Ezekiel’s encounter with the God who called him to the role of a prophet was both vivid and lucid: Then He said to me, “Son of man, eat what you find; eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel.” So I opened my mouth, and He fed me this scroll. He said to me, “Son of man, feed your stomach and fill your body with this scroll which I am giving you.” Then I ate it, and it was sweet as honey in my mouth. (Ezekiel 3:1-3).
Jeremiah’s own experience in his own call was likewise intimate and lucid: Then the Lord stretched out His hand and touched my mouth, and the Lord said to me… (Jeremiah 1:9).
John the Baptist had a clear and unambiguous encounter with God concerning the Messiah: He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, ‘He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit. ’ I myself have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God.
Early believers in the upper room were bathed with the an unmistakable manifestation of the Spirit after many days of fasting: And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. Acts 2:2-3.
When believers desire to encounter God face to face, in a manner that is intimate and unambiguous, and if they desire to forsake their fleshly ways – we have a revival!
- Are you going through a spell where the words of the bible seem to appeal only to the mind and not to your heart? Perhaps your heart is continually occupied with the cares of life, and could not receive the Spirit’s enlightenment. If you desire to be enlightened, you need to entrust your life to God wholeheartedly trusting him to provide and guide your future.
- Discipline yourself in reading the Word daily. You may not understand them now, but as you continue to read, the Spirit will speak in increasing clarity to your heart. When you are able to receive a measure of enlightenment and strength through the Words by yourself. You can work towards deeper enlightenment through fasting. You may start with one day, then progressing to three days. By drinking non-acidic liquids, you keep your body sustained with minerals while depriving yourself of carbohydrates and fibers. During fasting, refrain from normal work and spend time in solitude. Focus on reading the Word and in listening to the Spirit. Approach your pastor for his guidance during this process.
Dear Lord, I entrust my life into your hands believing that you will lead and guide me towards a glorious future. As I lay down my burdens and unbelief, touch my heart with your Spirit and renew it with peace and hope. Unblock my ears and eyes of my heart and cause me to see and hear you clearly. As I commit myself to a life of faith and godliness, bring a revival into my life and use me as a seed for the revival of my nation. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.