Saturday, December 8, 2018

Advent 2

Advent 2 - Series C
December 9, 2018
Luke 3:1-14
Advent 2
No John – no Jesus

Almighty God, You gave Your only-begotten Son to take our nature upon Himself. Grant that we, Your adopted children by grace, may daily be renewed by Your Holy Spirit. To that end may the words which come from these lips and the meditations which take place in these hearts be acceptable to You our strength and our redeemer. Amen

John the Baptist stands as the forerunner of Christ. In fact, if you would look at the life and ministry of John - you would see that Jesus does everything that John had done previously. We should not be surprised then when we learn that some folks were even confused - thinking Jesus and John were the same person. When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” - Matthew 16:13-14 The life of Jesus mirrors and complements that of John - on so many levels. 

John preaches.  Soon after, Jesus begins His preaching ministry. John confronts the local leadership - Jesus also stands before rulers and authorities. In rapid succession; John is arrested, tried, and killed - Jesus experiences a similar outcome. In fact, an interesting statement is made by Matthew in his gospel as he observes the crucifixion scene of Jesus.  And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.  At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus’ resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people.” - Matthew 27:50-53     

Considering the approximate closeness between John and Jesus we should not be surprised if John were one of these persons Matthew mentions – a person who rose from the dead and took a walk to Jerusalem, appearing to many people. It would certainly fit the pattern. Scripture does not signal out John specifically as one of these saints spoken of in Matthew’s gospel; yet Scripture offers at least the possibility of John being one of these afore mentioned holy people resurrected from the dead.

Jesus, whose birth we will celebrate in just a few weeks, is the one who suffers and dies for the sins of the world. Ironic, isn’t it; that we celebrate a baby born only to die a criminal’s death - a baby born in a stable will be executed by the state as an adult, and such a cruel and vicious death at that!  

How do you know that His death is sufficient to offer atonement, and absolution for your many sins? As soon as Jesus dies – death dies. As soon as Jesus gives up His life – life is restored to persons who had previously died; whose bodies were sealed in their graves. As Jesus comes out of the tomb and appears to countless witnesses– they too will enter the holy city appearing to many people. 

In every respect, John is a foreshadowing to Jesus. John leads the way to Jesus. John is the forerunner.  John comes to prepare the way for Christ. He prepares the way for Christ by preaching a simple yet profound message; a message of repentance and a message of faith. Before Jesus we first must have John.

John’s preaching is necessary to make us aware of sin.
If there is no sense of sin, we continue in a lost condition.  If there is no sense of our shortcomings, of our brokenness, and of our separation from God we can never be restored back to the Father and the 
relationship He would have for us.   

There is no need for a Savior – without a sense of sin. A Savior is needed - to break the bonds of sin. A Savior is needed - to take your place under the Law. A Savior is necessary - to restore you back to the Father.

Transition:  The preaching of John makes us aware of sin. This is necessary – without a sense of sin there is no need for a Savior. John’s preaching leads us to repentance. Again, this is necessary for if there is no repentance there can be no forgiveness.

John’s preaching is necessary to lead us to repentance
If there is no repentance we continue to be lost.  Repentance is what leads to forgiveness. Repentance is a process; where we own up to our sin taking responsibility. Next comes remorse; where we are heart sorry for our sin. {We must ask the question, are we truly sorry for the pain we have caused or are we “sorry” we got caught?}  Taking responsibility and expressing remorse leads to repairing what we have broken which finally leads to a break from our past, where we repeat not!

There can be no forgiveness however if we allow our repentance to go thus far. Reconciliation is what is necessary. St. Paul put it this way; “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:  that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them.” -2 Corinthians 5:18-19  

Forgiveness means God chooses to look at us differently. He looks at us through the cross of His own dear Son. Do you look at people differently? As one who has been redeemed by Christ. – Or do you view your neighbor as the same old person? Repentance which leads to reconciliation translates that we look at people differently – as not merely people who have changed their spots. But people who have become reconciled to God, which allows you to be reconciled to your neighbor.  

Transition: The preaching of John leads to an awareness of sin, it leads to repentance. John’s preaching guides us to Jesus for forgiveness and life, for without a death to self there cannot be a new life which only Jesus can offer.

John’s preaching is necessary to guide us to Jesus who offers us His forgiveness and life.
If there is no death to self there can never be a new life, which comes only through Jesus Christ crucified. Pr. Todd Wilken, in an excellent article, drives home the point that in many respects we have reduced Christianity to a program of self-improvement techniques, where people are urged to follow - ten scriptural steps, to use the seven spiritual principles, or start living the five biblical purposes. The Christian life is thus reduced to an extremely long to-do list. But this has nothing to do with the Christian life at all. Says, Wilken, “These are about American middle-class anxiety. “I’m not becoming, overcoming, transforming, or experiencing whatever I’m supposed to become, overcome, transform or experience.” “Suburban stress in many pockets of Christianity (has replaced) sin as the Christian’s real problem![1]  

There can be no new life unless there is a death to self. That is why this season of Advent is a season of repentance and self reflection. Only by dying to self can we be brought to real life.

The life you live is a changed life. It is a life of repentance from sin, to a new life lived in Christ. That is why we first must listen to John if we are to truly understand our Savior Jesus.   

John is rightly called the greatest of all the prophets. He is the one the Father used to prepare us for Christ’s coming. With repentant hearts we long for Jesus’ appearing. With the awareness of sin we are drawn to repentance which leads to forgiveness; a death to self and new life to God in Jesus Christ.

Soli Deo Gloria 
Passive Sentences –16%
Reading Level – 6.8

[1] Issues, Etc, Vol. 5, No 3 © Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO pp. 7-8

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