Summary: We like to excuse ourselves while we accuse others. John, the Baptizer called everyone to turn from their ways and turn to God.
Matthew 3: 1 – 12 / It’s Just Beginning
Intro: As I spoke with our son, Richard, I could hear our granddaughters crying in the background. I asked him what was happening and he said they were both hungry and they were getting ready to feed them. He said, “I had not idea being a parent was going to be this hard.” --- My response, “It’s just beginning!”
I. Every family has at least one! This time of year they tend to surface and you wish they wouldn’t. Jesus had just such a relative, John! (See Matthew 3:1 & 4)
A. John felt the time for politeness and protocol was at an end. It was time to be blunt and to the point. --- Diogenes said, “truth is like the light to sore eyes.” --- “He who never offended anyone, never did anyone any good.”
B. He was forthright and out-spoken. (ie. Herod’s illegal marriage) Called the crowd a “brood of vipers.” Why was John so forceful and direct? Wasn’t there any easier way?
C. “You better watch out, you better not cry, better not pout, I’m telling you why, Santa Claus is coming to town! He sees you when your sleeping, he knows when you’re awake, he knows if you’ve been bad or good. So be good for goodness sake!
II. It is the season to get ready and (Mt 3:2) John summoned the people to repentance as the way to prepare for the coming of the Lord.
A. Repentance is defined as a “change of the soul” --- it means turning one’s life around, changing directions, not in fear but in love.
B. John called the people from what they HAD done to what they COULD DO. Repentance looks to the past in honesty and remorse and to the future with resolve to live a new, different way.
C. A man watched as a master sculptor worked to release a beautiful statue from the marble that imprisoned it. He remarked, “I wish I could change my life as easily as you transform the marble.” The sculptor turned from his work and said, “Maybe you could if you worked like me, upon your knees.”
III. We like to ACCUSE others and EXCUSE ourselves. He’s cheap, I’m just careful. She’s a spendthrift, I’m generous. (Mt. 3: 7 – 9) John didn’t do this. He called EVERYONE to make some changes to prepare the way of the Lord. EVERYDAY CHANGES!
A. “Exalt The valleys” – lift up the valleys of poverty that embitter and gnaw at self-worth.
B. “Lower every mountain and hill” – Come down from our attitude of entitlement and our frivolous spending.
C. “Smooth the rough places” – make life easier for those who have it “rough”
Conclu: These are all possibilities! Our preparation for the coming kingdom is an everyday thing. It’s not something that happened long ago which we now remember. As we seek to live in daily repentance, we discover a hope that lies only in God. Hope in the kingdom of heaven which is coming and is here; hope as we die each day to old ways and look with courage and love to the future living in God’s ways preparing for God’s return.