Summary: A sermon that focuses on the true Joy of Christmas... the joy that we have recieved a messiah!
The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy. The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon; they will see the glory of the Lord, the splendor of our God.
Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.”
When John heard in prison what Christ was doing, he sent his disciples to ask him, “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?” Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: 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. Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.”
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? 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. Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written:
“I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.”
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.”
“The Real Joy of Christmas”
(Oops – Jesus wasn’t acting like the messiah… Was he?)
“Are you he who is to come, or should we look for another?” Are you REALLY the Christ? Are you REALLY the messiah? Cause I gotta tell you… we have some serious concerns here. Our teacher, John, has been an awful mess in prison… and to add insult to injury… you haven’t met any of our expectations of the messiah. When John baptized you… he said he was unworthy to even tie your sandals… but what happened to you?
We had such high hopes. We thought the prophet Isaiah had finally been fulfilled. We read the words, “Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, ‘Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.’” We thought that was you! But where is your vengeance? Where is your divine retribution? Where is our salvation? Last we checked Rome was still here, we were still an oppressed people, and salvation has come to no one!
So we come from John to ask this one question. “Are you he who is to come, or should we look for another?” Are you going to start acting like the messiah, or should we give up on you?
But the truth was… they had already given up on Jesus. He was not… nor would he ever be the messiah that they wanted. They were disappointed that their vengeance – their retribution – their salvation from Rome… had still not come. From their view… it was a world… still without a messiah – and they waited.
(Ugh – What if Jesus wasn’t the Christ, forever winter – the ughs of winter)
A world without a messiah… how sad, how bleak, how desolate. It would almost be like the world of Narnia. Do you all remember the Christian movie that came out a few years ago… “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe?” Well… that box-office hit was originally a book written by one of the greatest Christian authors ever, C.S. Lewis. The book and movie both take place in the fictional land of Narnia… a land that is desolate and depressing… because it is forever in the season of Winter. The evil White Witch held the world under her thumb, making it forever winter, but never ever Christmas. Think of that! (from p 20) All the downs of winter, without the joy of Christmas… without the hope of spring!
You know Winter is often people’s least favorite season. It is a grey season that is cold and harsh. It is a season marked by “seasonal depression.”
[Illustration From Keeney Dickenson sermon Narnia: Winter Without Christmas]
“Winter is a time of death and dormancy. Trees go from brightness to bleakness, from beauty to blah. Memories of green vibrancy create a longing within us for the newness of spring. What would it be like to live with no hope of greener days? Would the chill of winter gradually become unbearable? Would hope become dormant under the crushing weight of despair and be pushed to the brink of death? Winter is bearable because spring is inevitable. The sunshine of spring will dispel the shadows of winter, and life will begin anew! Birds will sing, flowers will bloom and mountain streams will flow with the melted remains of winter. But, what would life be like if winter did not give birth to spring?” What would it be like… to have eternal winter… with no hope of Christmas… with no hope of spring?