December 4 2016
Divine Service Setting 1
Hymn of the Day: LSB #344 “On Jordan’s Bank the Baptist’s Cry”
Matthew 3:1-12 “Announcing the New Reign”
By the Preaching of Repentance, We Are Prepared for the Coming of the Lord
“John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, ‘Repent’” (Matt. 3:1–2). His preaching of repentance for the forgiveness of sins prepared people for the coming of Christ into the world. John’s work was historically complete with the incarnate advent of Jesus, but his vital ministry continues in preaching Law and Gospel. The Son of God has come in the flesh, “a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots” (Is. 11:1), and continues to bear the fruits of righteousness. His good tree of the cross is “a signal for the peoples” (Is. 11:10), by which He calls the nations to repentance. “With the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips” (Is. 11:4), He slays the wicked and brings the dead to life, making sons of Abraham out of lifeless stones. So also the “root of Jesse” comes to us, “even he who arises to rule the Gentiles” (Rom. 15:12), that “we might have hope” and be filled “with all joy and peace in believing” (Rom. 15:4, 13).
Stir up our hearts, O Lord, to make ready the way of Your only-begotten Son, that by His coming we may be enabled to serve You with pure minds; through the same Jesus Christ, our lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
When a presidential visit is anticipated in a local town, the word spreads. People gather. Everyone is straining to catch the first glimpse of a helicopter or motorcade. An advance speaker addresses the crowd. The people wait. How long they ask. John the Baptist appears at the Jordan River. He is the advance man. With a timely message. Will the people listen? And his message? A new day has downed. He announces the new reign of God.
Announcing the New Reign of God -
1. The new reign of God stirs up interest!
2. The new reign of God calls for repentance.
3. The new reign of God changes hearts!
1. The New reign of God stirs up interest!
A. Israel responds to John’s appearance. His message was something they had not heard.
1. The people were dissatisfied. Dissatisfied with world conditions. Dissatisfied with Israel’s plight. They felt hopeless. They longed for deliverance.
2. John’s person and message place him in the tradition of the Old Testament prophets. There is a rise of Messianic hopes of a new reign of God in the Davidic line. A Savior is coming.
B. But, you also, respond to John’s message.
1. We too can experience a general dissatisfaction with world conditions, of possible war clouds gathering, and national economic difficulties. We’ve just completed an important election cycle in our country. Now what?
2. John’s message about a new reign of God to solve our problems sounds exciting. A Walt Disney World church sounds pleasant and enjoyable. Yet this is not the message of John. He has only one word to give, “repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand.”
2 This New reign of God calls for repentance.
A. John shocks Israel from the Pharisees to King Herod with a radical exposure of sin. He calls for the baptism of repentance. Pharisees and Sadducees were coming to be baptized. They were coming to do what we can’t help but read. They were doing the right thing and yet, John tells them to re-orient themselves. Don’t count on your status; God can and is rising up a new people for Himself.
B. John exposes our sin. He summons us to the same kind of radical repentance that exposes our desire to reign over our own lives. Turn around. Repent. See yourself, your community, and your place in it differently. Don’t walk out of this water the same way you came in. It’s one thing to ask Jesus to come and change the world. It is a much more difficult thing to ask Jesus to come and change ME. With this message of repentance, John challenges us - To see ourselves differently. To frame our relationship with God and our neighbor in new ways, and then, to bear fruit worthy of conversion.
3 The new reign of God changes hearts!
A. John’s message leads many to conversations as they are prepared to embrace the Messiah’s reign in their hearts.
B. John’s message points to the One who dies and rises again for the world’s sin. Our hearts are rekindled through Word and Sacrament in this Advent season to embrace Christ’s new reign in our lives.
Getting to Christmas, as John tells us every year, is not an easy thing. John’s repentance begins with an acknowledgement that God does not need you. But you need God; who insists on joining us together as brothers and sisters. Yes each of us, and all the despised people in this world.
As John announces the new reign of God. We respond with more that superficial interest. Led to repentance, we find ourselves transformed by the Spirit to announce God’s new reign in Christ to ourselves, to others, to the world.
Passive Sentences –2%
Readability – 75.8%
Reading level –5.0Image: Schnorr von Carolsfeld woodcuts © WELS for private and congregational use
The Young John the Baptist; Leonardo daVinci, 1513-1517. Web Gallery of Art.