Friday, December 13, 2013

Advent 3

Advent 3
15 December 2013
Matthew 11:2-15

Well, let’s just have a miserable Christmas! Ever heard that? Ever said those words? Ever pondered those thoughts? Truth be told, there are many these days who are thinking this very thing. To them this will be a dismal, gloomy, depressing Christmas. It really does stink to be them.  And they have John the Baptizer to join them in their misery.

Consider John’s circumstances. Jesus compares him to the great seer of old the prophet Elijah. “And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come.” Elijah that great man of God; after standing down the prophets of Baal found himself on the run. There was a bounty on his head. Wicked queen Jezebel wanted him dead. This was not an idle threat. She had the power to do it. You didn’t want to cross that woman!  She was pure evil!

Elijah was the only one left. Only he was faithful. Or, so he thought. The Lord had to remind him that there were still seven thousand reserved for Himself who had not bowed their knee to Baal. Elijah, that mighty man for God had his moments of doubt. He knew what was like to live in fear.

John could relate to Elijah’s sufferings. He finds himself in prison. He was there because he dared to speak the truth. He had faithfully proclaimed Jesus to be the Coming One. Filled with the Holy Spirit before his birth; he leapt for joy when he was in the presence of Jesus, when Mary’s word reached his ear. He was consistent.  He had called both young and old, rich and poor, the weak, the powerful…to repentance.

What got him into trouble is that fact, he would not back down from the rich and powerful King Herod. It could have been easy to remain preaching at the banks of the Jordan. But he confronted the king in his court in Jerusalem. What goes on behind closed doors is usually nobody’s business. However, John made it his business. He called Herod out because of the open affair Herod was having with Herodias the wife of his brother Phillip. That’s right! Herod was having an open affair with his sister-in-law!  

This confrontation had landed him in prison. It would not go well with John. There would be no release. There would be no miracle. There would be no divine intervention this time. He would die a horrible death.

Circumstances as they are cause some to question. “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” We are living outside of Eden. “From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been subjected to violence, and violent people have been raiding it.” There is suffering. There is persecution.  There is violence.

During this time of the year, there are people who do not share the joy or the merriment of the season.  Something troubles them. Memories of broken relationships, missed opportunities, the expectation for a better life that just hasn’t happened.

Because of these or other events, their hearts are broken. They too are imprisoned. Their hopes have been dashed by the circumstances of life. Who is this Messiah? Who is this Jesus? Who speaks to me in the prison of my own life? Can He speak to my situation? Or do I look for another?

This Jesus is the one who broke the darkness of our world to enter time and space. He came into this world to take on flesh, to bear your sin, to take on your pains, and sorrows, to bear your sin in His own body. He is the Savior that you need. You need not look for another. He came to be your Savior, friend and brother.

Life sometimes is not fair. Sometimes the deck is stacked against you. Sometimes easy breaks don’t come your way.  Yet your Lord knows all too well your needs. He has the sufficiency to supply them. He looks beyond the circumstances of your life to offer the peace no one else can offer.  

Many are the trials I face Lord. Protect me and guide me through them all! Many are the temptations before me Lord. Give me courage to overcome them. Many are the sorrows and afflictions before me Lord. Give me a merciful heart to help and silence of love where I cannot.  Lord, prepare for me a heart steadfast in love; a soul filled with loving kindness and a spirit of right judgment in every circumstance.

Lord, let at last Thine angels come, To Abr’ham’s bosom bear me home, That I may die un-fearing; And in its narrow chamber keep My body safe in peaceful sleep Until Thy reappearing. And then from death awaken me. That these mine eyes with joy may see, O Son of God, thy glorious face, My Savior and my fount of grace. Lord Jesus Christ, my prayer attend, my prayer attend, And I will praise thee without end.[1]

[1] Lutheran Service Book, Lord, The I love with All My Heart stanza 3; © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis

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