Summary: Advent. It is hard to do an orignial John the Baptist advent sermon isn’t it? I give it a go. Our life circumstances do not determine the validty of who Jesus is. Also, John 1:6-9, 15-16,19-23.
There are starting to be more movies with biblical themes coming out – the Nativity is the latest. I was thinking…Disney Studios might jump on the bandwagon and produce a biblically oriented film. I think there are many stories they could choose from….but you know Disney has a habit of changing the ending, to make it more…positive. Their rendition of the little mermaid ends with the happy couple living happily ever after – in the original, the little mermaid has to suffer the consequences of the bad decisions she made. What if they did a movie about the life of John the Baptist, how in the world would they change it…to make it more positive?
Can’t you see the workgroup brainstorming ideas for a positive ending between sips of Avian water…?
The eco friendly ending: John could escape Herod’s prison into the Judean wilderness he loves and live out the rest of his life protecting the environment with his team of friendly speaking locusts.
The family friendly ending: John, who of course would be a fabulous singer, would fall in love with a campy type wilderness girl. They would join up with cousin Jesus and travel the middle east in song - with a talking donkey.
The super hero ending: John, with the help of his Jewish Zealot friends, and small talking animals, use martial arts like fighting moves to fight through Roman legions, corner King Herod and his minions and magically banish them (and their talking animals) to parts unknown. Then John would rule in peace with his cousin Jesus, and of course, some talking animals.
Or perhaps would John would tick off the king by pointing out his incestuous marriage arraignment, be picked up by the brute squad, rot in prison for over a year, surviving only by the generosity of friends,
question everything he stood for, and then, die at a young age by beheading ……no upbeat songs, no heroics, no cute talking animals …
no sequels, no perpetual Saturday morning cartoon series...Just real life.
In our second Scripture this morning, John the Baptist sends his disciples to Jesus: “Where’s the happy ending Jesus? I feel as if I am as good as dead.You know, at one time John was the talk of the town.
People sought him out, the rich, the famous, the powerful, the ordinary. They heard his powerful uncompromising message: Repent, change your ways, get yourself right with God, for the kingdom of God is at hand.
They came hundreds of them. John didn’t go to them. They came to him out in the wilderness. A dry, dusty, dangerous…..well, wild place. There were wild animals – like lions. There were bandits. There was the harshness of the environment. There was the extensive length of the journey, just to hear the life changing message of John. And life changing it was. People gave up bad habits, a life of crime, personal attacks on others, destructive relationships were walked away from; People were for the first time able to look inside themselves to see who they really were. People fell on their knees before him to confess and repent.
It must have been quite an event to hear John speak. Here is a man who everyone knew, was born of a woman who couldn’t possibly have children.Here is a man, whom Scripture says had the Holy Spirit upon him, in the womb - wow. Here is a man clearly, and unequivocally blessed by God with a true message. Here is a man who knows where he stands before God, and has nothing to lose, nothing to hide, nothing to gain. What freedom!
So he speaks freely, he speaks boldly – the critics melt before him.
Near the end of verse 7 (look in your bibles and read along with me)
Jesus speaks to the people, who have clearly all seen John the Baptist
End of verse 7. “What did you go out into the desert to see? A reed swayed by the wind?
That is a reference to a person who goes with the flow and moves with the current popular talk – a philosopher. No – the people didn’t go to hear a philosopher. They didn’t want theory. They went to hear bold truth – and they got it.
Verse 8, are you with me? Jesus still speaking….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.
Yeah, John the Baptist would have made a great Alaskan – the subsistence lifestyle, Judean style. He wore animal skins, was unintimidated by the wild, self sufficient - A man’s man.
Verse 9, 9 Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet.