Summary: By comparing the lives of John the Baptist and Dietrich Bonhoeffer I show that God does not despise our questions and doubts; He uses them to and make us whole.
A HOPEFUL CONFIRMATION
SERMON # OF THE ADVENT SERIES “HOPE IS ON THE WAY”
Big idea: God does not despise our questions and doubts; He uses them to and make us whole.
2 When John heard in prison what Christ was doing, he sent his disciples 3 to ask him, "Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?" 4 Jesus replied, "Go back and report to John what you hear and see: 5 The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. 6 Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me." 7 As John's disciples were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: "What did you go out into the desert to see? A reed swayed by the wind? 8 If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings' palaces. 9 Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10 This is the one about whom it is written: " 'I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.' 11 I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
John the Baptist was a man’s man. He was filled with passion and determination. He was obsessed, maybe even possessed, by a spirit of justice. His presence captivated your attention and his words demanded your consideration. It has been said of John that he was “incapable of seeing evil without rebuking it. He spoke too fearlessly and too definitely for his own safety” (Wm. Barclay, the Gospel of Matthew).
John’s prophetic voice and in-your-face demeanor landed him in prison and eventually cost him his head. He was executed at the command of Herod.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was born on February 4, 1906, in Breslau, Germany. He was raised in a comfortable home, was well educated and wrote his dissertation at the end of three years at the University of Berlin (1924-1927) where he was awarded his doctorate with honors. We became a professor at Berlin University and a parish priest in various assignments.
His upbringing and his demeanor could not be more contrasting to John the Baptist’s and yet they had more in common than we might discover at first glance. You see, Bonhoeffer, like The Baptist, proved incapable of “not rebuking evil.” He, too, had a deep conviction regarding justice and the will of God; he, too, was unable to compromise. Neither was “a reed shaken by the wind.” Bonhoeffer's opposition to the National Socialism of Nazi Germany was founded upon his faith and made him a leader, along with Karl Barth, in the anti-Nazi Confessing Church of Germany. He was an advocate on behalf of the Jews. It was his efforts to help a group of Jews escape to Switzerland that led to his arrest and imprisonment in the spring 1943. He was hanged in the concentration camp at Flossenburg on April 9, 1945 specifically because of his faith and support of the Protestant resistance movement.