"Point Out Immanuel's Nurturing
Jan 16, 2008
"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. John wore clothing made of camel's hair,
with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey.
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. I
baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."
(Mark 1:4-8, NIV)
I asked myself who are all the CHARACTERS
mentioned directly or indirectly in
Whole Judean countryside
All the people of Jerusalem
One more powerful than I
I asked myself what I can
learn about John from verses 4-8:
John came baptizing in the desert region.
2. John came preaching a baptism of repentance.
3. John was able to draw huge crowd towards him.
4. John baptized those who first confessed their sins in the
5. John wore clothing made of camel’s hair.
6. John wore a leather belt around his waist.
7. John ate locusts and wild honey.
8. John knew he was a messenger.
9. John shows his humbleness.
10. John was prepared to draw crowds to the One more powerful than
I asked myself what was
the significance of each point?
& 2: John came baptizing in the desert region, preaching a baptism of
It is interesting that John did not go right into
the cities to preach a baptism of repentance but isolated himself in the
desert region, baptizing there. This fulfilled prophecy regarding
‘a voice of one calling in the desert!'
Yet, he was able to
accomplish something significant which is evident by point 3.
John was able to draw huge crowds to him.
John must have been a powerful
speaker or a speaker that drew interest that the whole Judean
countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Now as I
think about it, a desert region has lots of space that can be used for
all those who wanted to listen to him. Also when the people found out
that there was someone in the desert region preaching a baptism of
repentance, they could have been reminded of the Book of Isaiah and
wanted to check it out. Human tendency is that if a lot of people are
flocking to an area other people will usually follow even if they do not
know anything about the prophecy. This could have happened too. Now they
are in the desert region and put themselves in a place to receive. This
is evident by
John baptized those who first confessed their sins.
I found it very interesting that John did not take baptism lightly but
only baptized in the Jordan River those who confessed their sins. In
essence, he was symbolically washing them clean. This happened only
after he first preached a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of
sins. This showed me the connection there is between repentance and
confession. These two became prerequisites to baptism. Only after people
decided to repent (turn from) their evil ways and then confess their
evil ways did he agree to baptize them in the Jordan River.
I also found it so interesting that desert
region was mentioned first before the Jordan River. This made me realize
that many times our lifestyle can be likened to a desert region. It is
dry and like a parched land. We may want to get out of it but we are
figuratively surrounded by the desert and hope for water to quench our
thirst and give us hope. Yet, there seems to be a condition to receive
that water into our lives. It starts with admitting when our lifestyle
is wrong and deciding to confess and turn from it. When that happens we
do figuratively receive that water into our lives. Now we have moved
from the desert region of thirst into alleviating our thirst. Even then,
it is interesting that John does not stop with just baptizing them in
the water which is evident later.
5-8: John, who wore clothing made of camels hair, wore a leather belt,
and ate locusts & wild honey knew he was just a messenger.
I believe whatever the Bible mentions, there is
a reason for it.
So I thought to myself, why
mention John’s clothing attire and his food?
In olden days, emissaries used to come first to
prepare the way for someone important who was going to come. They would
lay out the groundwork and preparations for that person to come. They
themselves would have some important title that would draw people to
For me clothing made of camel’s hair reminds me
of fur and the expensiveness of it. The leather belt also reminds me of
expensiveness. Leather can sure be expensive. Now the food he eats is
significant too. He eats locusts and wild honey in the desert region. I
believe God provided them for him. Honey to me is expensive and not
cheap even in the supermarkets now.
For me all this pointed to John being someone
important with a message. He knew he was a messenger and not just a
messenger but a ‘powerful messenger’ and crowds were flocking to him.
Yet, he does something that is evident by points 9 & 10.
9&10: John shows his humbleness by wanting to lead the crowd to someone
John does not take the opportunity to boost his
own resume, getting excited about all the people that were coming to
“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. I baptize you with water, but he will
baptize you with the Holy Spirit."
John made three very significant points to
prepare the way for the One who was to come:
After me will come one more powerful than
The thongs of whose sandals, I am not
worthy to stoop down and tie.
I baptize you with water, but he will
baptize you with the Holy Spirit.
Statement 1: After me will come one more powerful than I.
This shows me that John was powerful but did not
let that power go to him. Instead he is humble and tells the crowd that
he is not the one to be followed because there is One who is more
powerful than he who will come.
Statement 2: The thongs of whose sandals, I am not worthy to stoop down
He tells the crowd that even though he is
seen as powerful, he does not feel worthy to even stoop down and tie the thongs
of the sandals of One who is to come and that’s how powerful the One who
is to come is.
Statement 3: I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the
John lets them know that there is a baptism more
important than water baptism and it is being baptized with the Holy
Spirit which he cannot do but the One who is to come will.
John has prepared the way for the One who is to
(To be continued)
I saw important implications for my own life.
What stuck out to me was ‘pointing’. Whatever John did, his mission
became to point others to Jesus. Even when the whole Judean countryside
and all the people of Jerusalem came to him, he was telling them not to
focus on him but the One who would baptize them with the Holy Spirit.
When I was in
full-time ministry for many years with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship
as a volunteer/staff, I had the desire of wanting the
fellowship to grow and all the people to come there. Even through that
hope, my desire was to point people to Jesus Christ and Him glorified. Yes, it would have been exciting to see the fellowship grow in
leaps and bounds but the purpose of the fellowship existed because of
Even now Jesus reminds me of the impact the
fellowship made in pointing people to Him. We were a small fellowship
but it was exciting to see people grow strong in the Lord and be
impacted by the Lord. Every year while I was there, the fellowship
existed even when we were losing students to graduation amidst of being
small. We wanted Jesus to be the central focus of the fellowship and
majority of the time, I believe He was in whatever we did. We did not
have the numbers but we had the love and heart to see others grow in the
Lord Jesus Christ.
Why am I sharing this
with you, you may wonder?
I learned that numbers can just be numbers sometimes and it can give us
a sense of false satisfaction even in fellowships and churches. Numbers
necessarily do not always mean people are
being drawn to Christ and growing in Christ.
Now as the Pittsburgh Standard is being
published, there is the temptation to want to work on the paper only
when I know a lot of people are coming to it and reading it. The paper is not here to build my ego but the
paper is there to glorify Christ and to try to help people grow in the
Lord and at the same time give coverage of events that are happening on
campus, in the county, city, country, and continents of the world as time permits. This means even if only one
person is pointed to Christ and is growing in their faith, it is worth
it. Even if only one person looks at any article, it is worth it!
The awesome thing is that one of
the students shared with me the impact the devotionals in the Pittsburgh
Standard had to draw her to Jesus Christ! For that one person being
pointed to Christ this paper's existence is worth it!
I ask you now dear friend,
who do you point to?
Dear friend, if all you do is point to
yourself, then this passage should lead you in another direction. It is
awesome there are so many fellowships on campus and hopefully all
continue to exist to point people to Christ and not just be happy with
numbers that come. The same thing goes for churches.
I want to encourage you from experience that
amazing things can happen with just few people too who are passionate
and have a heart to glorify the Lord and bring people closer to Him
carrying the vision of pointing people to Jesus. In my time in
ministry with my brothers and sisters in the Lord, I have seen that
happen! We were small but every leadership team we worked with at one
time or other had a glowing and fiery passion to reach students with the
Gospel of Jesus Christ and those who were already believers to help them
grow in their faith. The fellowship was also honored at one time by the
Student Government Board of the past.
You may have a passion and vision to help people
grow strong in the Lord and point people to Christ, but may feel
inadequate because of size. Don’t! For the Lord can use you where you
are and help you as you seek Him diligently and become humble. If you
have a desire to point people to Christ, He will open the doors and make
I am part of Oakland
International Fellowship every Sunday morning where their passion is to
know Jesus and make Jesus known throughout the international community.
You do not have to be an international student to be part of the church.
The church meets at North
Dithridge Street opposite to Webster Hall. Prayer meetings start at 9:00
a.m., worship starts at 10:00 a.m., Sunday School at 11:30 a.m., and free
lunch at 12:30 p.m. We also have Bible study cell groups on Friday
nights. If you want information on
any of these please email me or call me at 412-720-4579.
When we let Jesus be the focus, He will take
care of the rest! Amen!
"Point Out Immanuel’s
Nurturing Truth!" (P.O.I.N.T)/”Who do you
Dear Lord Jesus, I want to
thank you for this devotional time you have let me have and learn from.
Thank you for helping me to share it with others. Oh Lord, thank you for
John the Baptist's example in showing humility. Help us to be humble and not be
carried away with numbers but be thankful to what we have and have a
desire to point others to you and to help them grow strong in you Lord. Help
us please to live for you and serve you. Thank you Jesus for being there
for us and that you baptize us with the Holy Spirit. Holy Spirit come
reign in our lives. We confess our sins to you and repent of them. Help
us and lead us by your Spirit that we may lead others into your radiant
presence in their lives. Thank you Jesus so much for hearing us and
answering us. Thank you Jesus for being our Lord and Personal Savior! In
Your Name I Pray Jesus! Amen!
If you would like to invite Jesus Christ into your heart and make Him a
daily part of your life, you can this very moment. You will never be
alone. You can claim God's promises for you in the Bible and see them
come true, before your eyes, in His wonderful timing. You don't have to
wait for a special time to come to the Lord. You can come right now as
you pray the prayer below, meaning it in your heart.
God I am a sinner. I am invaded by this deadliest virus. Many times I
feel so guilty and yucky inside. I need forgiveness. I am so sorry for
my sins. I have not obeyed you with my whole heart! I have gone my own
way and done my own things. I still struggle with sin. I need you Jesus
in my life so I can receive forgiveness and a new beginning. In the
process, I can forgive others as you help me to. Thank you so much
Jesus. I accept the antidote you have sent me. I believe Jesus you died
for me and your cleansing blood will cleanse me from all my sins. You
came back to life to save me. Thank you God I am set free, free from the
bondage of sin. Hear my cry Oh Lord. I accept you Jesus into my heart. I
make you my Lord and Personal Savior of my life. Thank you Father God
for giving me Salvation. Thank you Jesus for coming into my heart and
making my heart your home. Thank you for living in me Jesus and I will
live for you and serve you the rest of the days of my life. Thank you
for being my Lord and personal Savior! I can live a life of peace with
you on my side. Thank you that you have heard my prayer and answered me!
In your Name I Pray Jesus! AMEN!
No matter what you feel in your heart,
know that Jesus has come in and resides with you! You are not alone! To
make your walk strong with the Lord, spend time in prayer talking to Him
as you would to a friend. You don’t need special words to talk to the
Lord. Spend time in His Word reading Psalms and turning them into
prayer. Next allow God to heal you and speak to you through the Gospel
of John or Gospel of
Mark before moving on to other Books of the Bible! Slowly, let the Lord
show you to which Scriptures He wants you to go to next. It is also important to be part of a body of believers to
help you grow in the faith. Find a Bible believing church that preaches
the Word of God from Genesis to Revelation proclaiming Jesus Christ our
crucified and risen Lord who brings us hope, healing, and help! But
beware of churches who do believe in the Word of God completely but
there is no freedom in Christ but legalism involved.
student, it is not too late to join a fellowship on campus too this
blessed New Year of 2008! May the Lord's presence and peace fill you with His
love now and forever! Amen!
Feel free to email me at
firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to meet to study the Bible,
pray with, talk about spiritual issues or whatever is on your mind! My
number is 412-720-4579.
"This is my
work and I can do it only because Christ's mighty energy is at work
within me." (Colossians 1:29, TLB)
Love in Christ,