Summary: A sermon for the 3rd Sunday in Advent
3rd Sunday in Advent
"A child, A Messiah"
"Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, "Are you he who is to come, or shall we look for another?" And Jesus answered them, "Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is he who takes no offense at me." As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: "What did you go out into the wilderness to behold? A reed shaken by the wind? Why then did you go out? To see a man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, those who wear soft raiment are in kings’ houses. Why then did you go out? To see a prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is he of whom it is written, ’Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, who shall prepare thy way before thee.’ Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has risen no one greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he." Matthew 11:2-11, RSV.
Grace and peace to you from the one who is coming. Amen
Are you the one? Are you the one? That was the question John the Baptist posed of Jesus, Are you the one? Are you the Messiah, are you the one who I was preparing would come and, destroy the evil one; would preach the wrath of God and sinners would be blasted out of their complacency.?
That was the kind of question John was now asking as he was in prison. He still had the freedom to speak to his disciples, to know what was going on in the world around him. John wonder why there was not terror in Jesus’ words which was the sure device he thought people jump to the side of justice and purity. Jesus was not preaching, the wrath of God, the judgment of God, as I had, thought John so is he the one. There was no fire and no brimstone, so John asked his disciples to go and see, to check it out, to find out if this guy Jesus was truly the Messiah, the. one who is coming in the name of the Lord, whether this Jesus was the one who John had prepared the way, or whether another was still coming?
So John sent a group of the disciples to see to ask Jesus if he was the one, or whether there was still another one to come? ;
The disciples go and ask the question to Jesus, and notice the answer of Jesus, he doesn’t really answer it, but ’he says, "Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is he who takes no offense at me." What the disciples saw and heard was not the wrath of God, but the grace of God.
Jesus’ answer to John’s disciples was: Go back,. and don’t tell John what I am saying: tell him what I am doing. Don’t tell John what I am claiming: tell. John what is happening.
Jesus is saying that he has come not with the wrath of God to drive people away from God, but he was coming with love to attract people, to attract them with love and with mercy.
Frederick Buechner says the following in his book, Peculiar Treasures: "Where John preached grim justice and pictured God as a steely-eyed thresher of grain, Jesus preached forgiving love and pictured God as the host at a marvelous party or a father who cannot bring, himself to throw his children out even when the spit in his eye. Where John said people had better save their skins before it was too late. Jesus said it was God who saved their skins, and even if you blew your whole bankroll on wild living like the Prodigal Son, it still wasn’t too late. Where John ate locusts and honey in the wilderness with the church crowd, Jesus ate what he felt like in Jerusalem with as sleazy a bunch as you could expect to find."
One of the favorite hymns of the Advent season is the hymn entitled "What Child is This"
What child is this, who lays to rest,
On Mary’s lap is sleeping?
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet
While shepherds watch are keeping?