Summary: Jesus is coming. Are you Ready?
A Journey Through the Stable III
Hear Ye! Hear Ye! Hearing that makes you take notice, doesn’t it? These are words
that let you know that something important or relevant to you is about to be said.
Now we don’t know if John the Baptist actually said those words but we do know
that people listened to him.
The Jews had endured over 400 years of silence. God had always spoken to His
people through a man, but now the prophetic voice of God was silent. Malachi
closed out the Old Testament with the prophecy of another prophet coming before
the day of the Messiah. John the Baptist was that prophet. Matthew doesn’t give the
Jewish readers any background on him because he was famous. John the Baptist
was the Billy Graham of his day.
His message for all the people was simple, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is
Advent is a season that invites us to anticipate and prepare for Christ’s coming. It is
certainly a suitable time for reflecting on this biblical promise of the coming
kingdom, since it is also the time which prepares for the celebration of the birth of
So as we gather on this third Sunday of Advent, let us continue to prepare for
Christ’s coming by continuing our journey through the stable.
I asked you the first week of Advent if you were hungry. Today if you were hungry,
you would go into the kitchen and get something to eat. Well, like people, animals
have to eat, too. Grain in the stable would serve as food for the animals, but it is
also important that the animals don’t eat all the grain. It is important to save some
for planting, so that next year there will be more grain.
You know, seeds are strange things. They’re small and they don’t really look like
the big plants they will become. But they do. In the same way, these seeds are like
God’s promises. Lying in the manger, Jesus probably didn’t look like the Savior of
the world he would grow up to become. But the promise of God was there...Jesus
did grow up to make sure we have hope for the future.
Look around the stable. The grain says, “Trust God’s promises.”
What looks like a rake in our stable is actually a winnowing fork. A winnowing fork
separates the grains of wheat from the chaff. When tossed into the air the heavier,
good grains would fall to the ground while the lighter chaff would be blown away.
Sometimes separating things like that is important, like when you peel a banana or
orange and throw away the peel (no good to eat) and keep the good part.
This winnowing fork can reminds us that Jesus came to separate our sins from us so
that what remains can be good. The winnowing fork says, “Your sins are taken
In most stables then (or barns today) you will probably find tools. A plow is a tool,
the kind that farmers would use to prepare the ground for the planting of their seeds.
Tools are important. There are different types of tools for different kinds of jobs.
Joseph was a carpenter. One of his jobs was to make tools so other people could do
their jobs. I think it’s part of God’s plan to provide work for people to do and to
make it possible for us to have or make the things we need to do our work.
The plow can remind us that Jesus had a job to do, too, and he did it for all of us.
Some people were called away from their work to come to the stable and see baby
Jesus. Shepherds were the first ones to be told the good news that Jesus had been
born. After Mary and Joseph, shepherds were the first people Jesus met.
Remember last week we looked at Jesus as the “Lamb of God.” Sheep need a
shepherd, maybe that’s why later Jesus called himself “The Good Shepherd”. A
good shepherd cares for his sheep, he leads them, guides them, feeds them, and
protects them from harm or wandering off.
One of the ways shepherds protect and care for their sheep is with a staff. This staff
can be used as a weapon against predators, as a guide for the sheep, or lifting them
out of dangerous situations. All of those things our Good Shepherd does for us. He
even laid down his life for his sheep. We should be happy to follow him.
Do you see the travel bag? For people in Jesus’ day, travel often consisted of using
animals such as donkeys, oxen, or camels. Those who used these animals carried
their clothes and such in saddlebags, which is kind of like a suitcase. It was