When reading through the Bible, Keller said that sometimes you come across a passage that may be challenging, and instead of digging in, you say “Hmmm,” and just skip to the next. John 3:22-36, particularly 31-36, could be one of those, so even though this is a very mature group, I believe digging in will result in AHA moments. The tape begins several minutes in. You do not hear the reading of this passage, and perhaps Keller showed a clip from the movie “Witness” with Harrison Ford, for he refers to the movie, and wouldn’t have been legally allowed to tape it and sell the tape. (Or the person recording just got a late start!)
“Witness” is the story of a little Amish boy who is the only witness to a policeman committing a brutal murder. He is then hunted down by the policeman and his allies. The boy is the only witness who knows the truth. Here’s the clip.
Keller says in the sermon: “Just like in the movie, Jesus knows the truth, but the truth is lethal to his opposers, so they hunt him down.”
There are so many times when God’s ways are confusing to us, or His commands are challenging. Keller opens with a great word picture of how the testimony from above has so much more clarity than the testimony from below. Imagine being behind a slow vehicle on a long and winding road, and you want to pass, but you just can’t see if it is safe. A helicopter pilot, however, has the clarity from above and could tell you:
“Don’t do it!” Or, “Go ahead — it’s clear for miles!”
That’s the clarity of the testimony from above.
One of Keller’s famous tweets is:
If we knew what God knows, we would ask exactly for what he gives.”
The Sermon: Witness
1. How have you experienced the presence of God this week?
2. What stands out to you from the above and why?
Monday: The Text
Last week we considered what it meant to be born of the water and the Spirit and looked at the prophecy in Ezekiel 36:25-26 with the water representing the cleansing that comes from the Spirit, and then the Spirit representing His coming to live in us. “After this” there is controversy.
3. Read aloud John 3:22-26
A. With what two words does this section begin? Relevance?
B. What is happening here? What concern do the disciples of John have?
C. Do you see any parallels with jealousy among churches? What should we learn from this?
4. Read aloud John 3:27-30
A. Meditate on this and share your observations.
A. How does John answer them by first, explaining his purpose?
B. What word picture does he then give and how does this explain his point?
5. Read aloud John 3:31-36
A. Meditate on verse 31. Who is John the Baptist talking about and why is His vision superior?
B. How are people responding to the testimony from the One from above according to verse 32?
C. What do you learn about the one who does accept His testimony?
D. What do you learn about Jesus in verses 34 and 35?
E. What great divide is explained in verse 36?
Listen up to about 8:30 when he moves into “Lifestyle”
6. Keller says Jesus brings clarity to the mystery of your jigsaw puzzle life. How has Jesus brought clarity to the mystery of your life and helped all the pieces fit together?
7. Jesus is the authoritative truth-teller. Keller said it is possible to go after Jesus yet reject his testimony. What did he mean and how does this relate to you?
8. What was Keller’s point with the helicopter analogy? How you could apply this right now?
9. How did John the Baptist have the right attitude?
10. Did anything else stand out to you? If so, what?
Wednesday: Lifestyle – Believing What Jesus Believes
Listen up to about 16:45 when he says “A Witness Brings Authority”
I have personally found that in our crazy mixed-up world, instead of trying to defend things the world accepts about gender, or sex, or abortion is usually counter-productive, but sometimes a simple “I believe what Jesus believes” is powerful.
10. Jesus has the clarity and authority to tell us how to live. What were some of the areas that Keller mentioned concerning this? You may think of others. Take an area where you struggle with His authority and contemplate why you do and how you could talk to your soul.
11. He said if we reject seeing sin in ourselves, we are rejecting the testimony from above. We need to regularly pray for God to search our hearts — how well do you do at this?
Recently while speaking locally I told a story I’ve told before about my friend Marty who didn’t think she was a sinner. I didn’t respond to her but I prayed and God showed her. I asked her before I spoke how He did that and got more of the story. She said, “I was so frustrated about the whole sin thing I decided not to go to Bible study that day but to ride my bike. While I was riding He showed me my sin, but then how much He loved me. I was overwhelmed.” That is why she came in late to Bible study so excited! It made realize when I really am upset with someone to pray that God will show us both our sin — for He can do it!