A Humbling Encounter

A Humbling Encounter

Josh Masters |

An encounter with Christ brings bold humility to our lives. As we’re humbled at the feet of His glory, we are empowered to boldly fulfill His purpose for our lives.

Encounters with Christ
Message 6 • A Humbling Encounter – John the Baptist
Joshua J. Masters
August 08, 2021


Good morning, Brookwood!

Today we’re continuing our summer series, Encounters with Christ.

And in this series, we’ve been looking at people in Scripture who had a life-changing encounter with Jesus and how their experience relates to the encounter we can have with Christ.

Most of the encounters we’ve studied so far have been short, single encounter.

They meet Christ, their lives are transformed forever, but then we never see them again.

Well, today we’re going to look at someone who had multiple encounters with Christ.

In fact, he was the FIRST man to have an encounter with Jesus.

Who was the first guy to have an encounter with the Christ in the New Testament?

It wasn’t Joseph.
It was John the Baptist… and it was before he was born.

John was Jesus’ cousin. And his mother, Elizabeth, was pregnant with him at the same time Mary was pregnant with Jesus.

Look at Luke 1:
A few days later Mary hurried to the hill country of Judea, to the town where Zechariah lived. She entered the house and greeted Elizabeth. At the sound of Mary’s greeting, Elizabeth’s child leaped within her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Elizabeth gave a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary, “God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed. Why am I so honored, that the mother of my Lord should visit me? When I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy.
Luke 1:39–44 (NLT)

Of all the healing and life-transforming encounters we’ve looked at, this is the most overwhelming to me.

Even though Jesus is only a few days old in Mary’s womb, the moment He arrives, John recognizes Jesus as the Messiah from Elizabeth’s womb and is filled with the Holy Spirit.

Let me say that again… John received the Holy Spirit from an encounter with Jesus while they were BOTH still in the womb.

And John’s encounter with Christ here marked the beginning of a life in humble servanthood to the Messiah.

We’re going to explore a little bit of that life today.

The bulk of our text will be in Matthew 3.
So, you can go ahead and turn or swipe there in your Bibles.

But as you do that, I want to give you a sense of who John is.
Because it’s important to understand a little bit about John’s history and role he plays in Scripture before we look at the next encounter he has with Jesus.

First, He’s not called John the Baptist because he was a delegate at the Southern Baptist Convention.

He’s called John the Baptist, so he’s not confused with John the disciple.

And the title comes from his ministry. We’ll get to that in a moment.

Now, here’s what’s really important to understand:

John is the last Old Testament prophet.

That’s confusing because He’s in the New Testament, right?

Okay… take a sip of coffee and stay with me here. This is going to get intense.


Here’s the issue.
The word “testament” is translated from the Greek and Latin words that also mean covenant…

So, our Bibles would be more accurately labeled if it were called, “The Old and New Covenants.”

John is operating as the last prophet under the old covenant between God and Israel, preparing the way for Christ to bring in the new covenant.

John’s mission was described and foretold in the book of Isaiah 700 years before he was born.

And an angel confirmed John’s calling to his father, Zachariah, before Elizabeth became pregnant.

The angel said:
“… [John] will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even before his birth. And he will turn many Israelites to the Lord their God. He will be a man with the spirit and power of Elijah. He will prepare the people for the coming of the Lord.”
Luke 1:15b–17a (NLT)

John’s role as a prophet was foretold in the Old Testament (Covenant) and confirmed to his parents before his birth.

PHEW! That’s a lot. And that was just the introduction.

Everyone with me? Ready?
Okay. Let’s jump into our text.

John is now grown and preaching in the power of Elijah after receiving the Holy Spirit through an encounter with Christ as a baby.

Matthew, Chapter 3. Verse 1:
In those days John the Baptist came to the Judean wilderness and began preaching. His message was, “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.”
Matthew 3:1–2 (NLT)

The prophet Isaiah was speaking about John when he said, “He is a voice shouting in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord’s coming! Clear the road for Him!’”
Matthew 3:3 (NLT)

That’s the passage from Isaiah we just talked about.
John’s clothes were woven from coarse camel hair, and he wore a leather belt around his waist. For food he ate locusts and wild honey.
Matthew 3:4 (NLT)

People from Jerusalem and from all of Judea and all over the Jordan Valley went out to see and hear John. And when they confessed their sins, he baptized them in the Jordan River.

But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming to watch him baptize, [The Greek indicates they may have been coming to be baptized] he denounced them. “You brood of snakes!” he exclaimed. “Who warned you to flee the coming wrath? Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God. Don’t just say to each other, ‘We’re safe, for we are descendants of Abraham.’ That means nothing, for I tell you, God can create children of Abraham from these very stones. Even now the ax of God’s judgment is poised, ready to sever the roots of the trees. Yes, every tree that does not produce good fruit will be chopped down and thrown into the fire.
Matthew 3:5–10 (NLT)

Now some of you might be thinking, “Did I get the wrong outline?”

This thing says the title of the message is A HUMBLING ENCOUNTER… and this doesn’t seem too humble.

No, you have the right outline.

Last week J.C. walked us through A BOLD ENCOUNTER, and he touched on the balance between boldness and humility.

And there’s probably no greater example of that balance than John the Baptist.

In fact, Jesus Himself said:
I tell you, of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John…
Luke 7:28a (NLT)

John was the pinnacle of boldness and humility at the same time.

He was incredibly bold in his purpose because he was completely humble before Christ. [REPEAT]

And it all stems from that first encounter in the womb.

A. An encounter with Christ brings bold humility.

And if WE have an encounter with Christ, it will bring bold humility to our lives.

The more we’re humbled at the feet of Christ’s glory, the more we’re empowered with boldness to fulfill the purpose He has for our lives.

And as bold as John was with the message God gave him, we DO see humility in this passage.

Look at verse 4 again:
John’s clothes were woven from coarse camel hair, and he wore a leather belt around his waist. For food he ate locusts and wild honey.
Matthew 3:4 (NLT)

First of all, gross.

But more importantly, John’s encounter with Christ and the Holy Spirit brought him to a place of such humility that his mission in Christ outweighed any comforts this world could offer him.

Yes, there are elements of his role as a prophet here too, but…

The boldness of his purpose was rooted in the humility of his desires.

And when Christ’s purpose in your life becomes more important than your personal desires, you’ll find significance beyond what this world can offer you.

So, what does it mean to have the type of humility that leads to this kind of strength?

Well, with the time we have left, let’s quickly look at three things.

Here’s the first one:
B. Humility in Christ means…
1. Recognizing Christ’s Lordship.

Let’s keep reading in our text.

Verse 11:
“I baptize with water those who repent of their sins and turn to God. But someone is coming soon who is greater than I am—so much greater that I’m not worthy even to be His slave and carry His sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. He is ready to separate the chaff from the wheat with His winnowing fork. Then He will clean up the threshing area, gathering the wheat into His barn but burning the chaff with never-ending fire.”
Matthew 3:11–12 (NLT)

John didn’t mince words, did he?
So, we can’t today, either.

John was direct because he understood something that we often miss in the Western Church—and it’s the reason most of the Western Church ineffective.

We understand the love of God.
We understand the grace of God.
But we don’t understand the justice of God… not really.

We don’t like to talk about the wrath of God.

But until we begin to grasp that, we’ll never truly understand the sacrifice Christ made to step between us and that wrath.

Sin WILL be purified in the fire of God’s holiness.

John lived in the humble knowledge that he was nothing before that holiness.

He said, “I’m unworthy to be His slave… His slave.”
With all our entitlement, let that sink in for a moment.

Remember when we studied the paralyzed man?

An encounter with Jesus Christ should be terrifying when you realize who He is and who you are in comparison to Him.

But that holy fear empowers you to glorify God when you realize that His glory is channeled into the grace-filled hope of salvation and His purpose for your life.

The reality is:
You can’t fully submit to the Lordship of Christ until you realize that your life is meaningless without Him.

And that’s at the heart of everything.

As long as you insist on being the lord of your own life, you’ll never accomplish great things in the Kingdom of God… because you’re working for the Kingdom of You.

John recognized the Lordship of Christ when he encountered Jesus in the womb.

And his ministry is bringing people to a repenting knowledge of the Messiah because he still recognizes he’s not worthy to carry Jesus’ shoes.

When we come to a place of thinking, “Look at all I’m doing for God,” we’re in a dangerous place.

And the best thing to do in that moment is to get on our knees and ask Christ to reveal who He is.
Because when He reveals even a glimpse of His glory, it will humble you.

***Now, please hear me.
We are not called to self-hatred.
I’m not talking about walking through life with your head down thinking you’re less than everyone else.

I’m not taking about feeling worthless and beating yourself up for every mistake.
That’s not from God.

No. I’m talking about embracing a purpose greater than yourself, holding your head high, knowing you are a child of The Most High God—and that you have the most power in your life when your humbled at the feet of Jesus.

John had that bold power of humility.

But even HE wasn’t prepared for his next encounter with Jesus.

The Book of John (the disciple) tells us while this John was baptizing people, he saw Jesus coming toward him from a distance and said:
“Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! He is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘A man is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for He existed long before me.’
John 1:29b–30 (NLT)

John says, “He existed long before me” even though John was born first.

Again, John is proclaiming Christ’s Lordship, His deity, and His identity as the promised Melech HaMoshiach—The King Messiah.

So, why was the Messiah approaching John?

Let’s go back to our text. Verse 13:
… Jesus went from Galilee to the Jordan River to be baptized by John. But John tried to talk Him out of it. “I am the one who needs to be baptized by You,” he said, “so why are You coming to me?”
Matthew 3:13–14 (NLT)

Why didn’t John want to baptize Jesus?

Because John knew he wasn’t worthy to baptize Jesus.

Humility in Christ means…
2. Receiving assignments I’m not worthy of.

The greatest sign we’re not prepared for a particular assignment from God is if we think we deserve it.

We’re never ready to do what God wants to do through our lives until we realize we’re not worthy to do it.

When you submit to Christ’s Lordship in an encounter with Him, He will give you an assignment that you are not capable of—or worthy of doing.

John’s baptism is one of repentance, and he knows Jesus has nothing to repent for.

A few verses ago, John was refusing to baptize the Pharisees and Sadducees (or even let them watch) because their hearts weren’t worthy of it.

Now, he proclaims how unworthy HE is to be in the water with Christ.

In fact, as Jesus makes His request, John becomes more keenly aware of his OWN sinful nature and says, “No, no. I need to repent and be baptized by You.”

Verse 15: <PRODUCTION NOTE: Please leave up on all screens in house/online until note below>
But Jesus said, “It should be done, for we must carry out all that God requires.” [GREEK: for we must fulfill all righteousness] So John agreed to baptize Him.
Matthew 3:15 (NLT)

John was right, of course.

Jesus didn’t need to be baptized for confession or repentance.

So why submit Himself to that?
It’s strange, right?

But Jesus TELLS us why He’s there.

Look at the verse. He says, “It should be done.”
And that’s an important phrase.

In Greek it’s all one word and it basically means, “to let loose… to permit something that wouldn’t normally happen”

So, Jesus is saying, “John, you’re right. I don’t NEED to be baptized for repentance. But I will permit it in this moment.”

Because “we must fulfill all righteousness.”

This is part of Christ’s mission and His submission to the Father.

And so, with that explanation, John agrees.

But if he felt unworthy before, watch what happens next.

Verse 16:
After His baptism, as Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on Him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is My dearly loved Son, who brings Me great joy.”
Matthew 3:16–17 (NLT)

Knowing he’s unworthy, John takes hold of the Messiah and drops Him below the surface of the water. And as Jesus, who looks like any other man, is pulled up out of the river, beads streaming down the sides of his face,

--The heavens open,
--The Spirit visibly descends on Jesus, and
--The audible voice of God breaks into our world from Eternity.
Can you imagine?

This moment is so important to the plan of salvation—it’s so vital to the mission of Jesus Christ that we see something here we don’t see anywhere else. What is it?

This is the moment we see the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit all together at one time, working as one God in the plan of redemption but in three independent roles. This is our greatest picture of the Trinity.

That’s how essential this baptism is.
It’s the confirmation of Christ’s purpose through:
--The Son’s submission,
--The Holy Spirit’s empowerment, and
--The Father’s affirmation.

This baptism confirms the ministry that will ultimately lead to Christ’s greater baptism in death.

John said it:
“Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”

And that’s exactly what we’ll proclaim as we celebrate baptism here next week. Please join us!

John’s baptism was about repentance, but the new covenant baptism is about rebirth.

After the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, baptism became a public acknowledgement of faith in the Lamb of God.

Going under the water represents being buried with Christ and coming out of the water represents being raised to new life.

That’s what we see modeled here for the first time.

Knowing how he felt before, can you imagine how unworthy John must have felt after experiencing this moment?

Yet, Christ chose John to help usher in a new relationship between God and mankind.

And God wants to give you an assignment YOU’RE not worthy of.

God wants to use you for a purpose that is so much greater than yourself that it seems impossible and terrifying.

That’s because, just like John, He wants to reveal His glory through you.

And that can only happen when we’re not seeking our own.

Stop rejecting the great thing Christ’s calling you to do just because you’re not worthy or ready.

He knows that, but that’s exactly why He’s calling you.

Humility in Christ means receiving assignments I’m not worthy of.

Humility in Christ [also] means…
3. Releasing what’s not assigned to me.

This one might be even more difficult.

Let’s flip or swipe over to John 3:28.

After Christ’s baptism, he went into the desert and was tempted for 40 days.

When He returned, Jesus started His public ministry.

And in a somewhat less intense encounter, John finds himself baptizing people in Aenon close to where Jesus is also baptizing people at the same time.

Now, as Jesus began assembling His disciples, many of John’s followers left to follow Jesus instead.

But when the remainder of John’s disciples see Jesus is baptizing people, they started to get a little territorial.

Anyone here ever get territorial over their ministry?

They go to John and they’re like:
“Hey, baptizing is our thing!” “Aren’t you concerned, John? Jesus is taking over everything!”

This is John’s response (verse 28):
You yourselves know how plainly I told you, ‘I am not the Messiah. I am only here to prepare the way for Him.’ It is the bridegroom who marries the bride, and the bridegroom’s friend is simply glad to stand with Him and hear His vows. Therefore, I am filled with joy at His success. He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.
John 3:28–30 (NLT)

That’s not a statement of emotional martyrdom.
It’s an understanding of his purpose.

When John says, “I must become less and less,”
that’s not a picture of John shrinking.
It’s a picture of John boldly releasing what doesn’t belong to him.

As important as it is to step forward in faith in the things God’s called us to do,
We must also release what He hasn’t given us to do.

Because we tend to pick up a mantle from God and then proclaim it as our own.

We inject our goals and our purpose into His plan.

We cross the line between what we’re supposed to do and what Christ is supposed to do.

John said, “I’m not the Messiah.”
And neither are you.

But we add onto the mission we’ve been given—taking it just a little bit farther—taking authority in ourselves rather than Christ.

John knew where that line was.
Moses didn’t.

In the book of Numbers, Moses was angry with the people of Israel because they kept complaining.

Over and over, God had shown His provision to the Israelites, but like spoiled children, they kept whining and wishing they’d never left the familiar chains of slavery in Egypt.

Well, as they were complaining that they had no water, the Glory of God appeared to Moses and said, “I want you to gather the entire community together and let them see what I’m about to do…

…Once everyone’s watching, go speak to that rock and enough water will gush out for every man, woman, child, and animal.”

God was going to again reveal His holiness and goodness.

But this is what happened.
Numbers 20:10:
Then [Moses] and Aaron summoned the people to come and gather at the rock. “Listen, you rebels!” he shouted. “Must we bring you water from this rock?” Then Moses raised his hand and struck the rock twice with the staff, and water gushed out. So the entire community and their livestock drank their fill. But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust Me enough to demonstrate My holiness to the people of Israel, you will not lead them into the land I am giving them!”
Numbers 20:10–12 (NLT)

You know, I’ve always read that and thought, “That’s awfully harsh. Not getting to go into the Promised Land just because he hit a rock.” But I see it now for the first time.

Moses didn’t have his mission removed because he hit a rock… or even because he got angry.

He had his mission removed from him because he misrepresented God.

He was directed to convey God’s provision and love and used the opportunity to rebuke the Israelites as if it were coming from God.

He didn’t get to walk God’s people into the Promised Land because He took on the role of God rather than being humbled before God.

Listen, we must be very careful that we’re not speaking for ourselves when we’re supposed to be speaking for God.

So, if you think having the boldness of John means rebuking people and telling them to repent when God hasn’t told you to do that… realize what’s at stake.

He may be asking you to whisper to a rock.

But here’s what’s incredible about Moses: In God’s grace, Moses DID get to stand in the Promised Land with Jesus and Elijah (Matthew 17:1-8) so he didn’t lose God’s favor or his salvation—but he did miss out on some of the purpose God had for him.

Once you belong to the Father, Scripture says nothing can snatch you out of His hand—so this is not an issue of losing your salvation or God’s love.

But when we push to go where we haven’t been assigned or hold on to what He’s asked us to let go of, we can miss the greater mission He has for our lives.

God has a plan of meaning and significance for your life.

You have to let go of what’s not yours, so you have an open hand to receive the blessings He’s prepared for you.

John knew where his mission was and he knew where it wasn’t.


You may be sitting there thinking, I can never live up to the bold humility and purpose-filled life as John the Baptist.

After all, Jesus said John was the greatest man who ever lived.

Yes, He did say that, but this was Christ’s full statement:

I tell you, of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John. Yet even the least person in the Kingdom of God is greater than he is!”
Luke 7:28 (NLT)

That’s you.
That’s you Jesus is putting in the same category as the greatest man who ever lived.

Jesus wrote the purpose of John’s life in the book of Isaiah… So what?

He wrote your purpose in the plan of eternity.

And you may not be a prophet, but you have the same mission John did:
To prepare the people for the coming of the Lord.

The encounters YOU have with people, are meant to prepare them for what the Messiah wants to do in their lives—both now and at the end of the age.

--Submit to His Lordship with humility!
--Stop rejecting the great task you’re not worthy of!
--And let go of the things He hasn’t assigned you.

Then watch how He works in and through your life.

Let’s Pray.

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