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Summary: John the Baptist struggled. Was Jesus the One? Jesus leads us into God’s Word to heal our struggling hearts, just as he did for John. A) He fulfills the prophecies, so we find healing in the Scriptures B) He blesses us in his Word, so we take it to heart

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Text: Matthew 11:2-11

Theme: Jesus Is the One

A. He fulfills the prophecies, so that we find healing in the Scriptures.

B. He blesses us in his Word, so that we take it to heart.

Season: Advent 3a

Date: December 12, 2010

Web page: http://hancocklutheran.org/sermons/Jesus-Is-the-One-Matthew11_2-11.html

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. The Word from God through which the Holy Spirit cheers our hearts with Jesus is Matthew 11.

"Now when John had heard in prison of the works of the Christ and had sent through his disciples, he said to him, "Are you the Coming One, or should we expect someone else?"

"Jesus replied and said to them, "Go, report to John what you hear and see: The blind see again, and the lame walk. Lepers are healed, and the deaf hear. The dead are raised, and the poor have good news proclaimed to them. Blessed is everyone who isn’t fatally trapped due to me."

"As they were going, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John. "What did you go out into the desert to see? A reed being swayed by the wind? Well then, what did you go out to see? A man finely dressed in soft clothes? Behold, those who wear soft clothes are in kings’ palaces. Well then, what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you -- and more than a prophet. For He is the one about whom it’s written: ’Behold, I indeed am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’ Truly, I tell you, no one born of women has arisen greater than John the Baptizer. But the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he is."" (Matthew 11:2-11)

Dear friends in Christ, fellow saints washed clean in the blood of our risen Savior:

A. He fulfills the prophecies, so that we find healing in the Scriptures.

"It’s the most wonderful time of the year With the kids jingle-belling And everyone telling you ’Be of good cheer.’ It’s the most wonderful time of the year" (by Andy Williams, see ) Or is it?

Yes, this time to celebrate, this time to be with family, this time to remember our Savior’s birth is wonderful. Yet along with it comes frenzy and stress, disappointed expectations, loneliness -- at times even a hopelessness.

It seems that John was struggling with some of those same feelings. We met him last week in the wild areas along the Jordan, wearing coarse camel’s hair and a leather belt. He was baptizing and preaching, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near" (Matthew 3:2 NIV). But now some months later, he’s sitting in prison.

Why? Here’s the background in brief. Herod the Great, whom the wise men came to see after Jesus’ birth, had died almost thirty years earlier. One of his son, Herod Phillip, married Herodias, who was his own niece. Herod Philip’s half-brother, named Herod Antipas who ruled Galilee, visited the couple in Rome. He and Herodias fell in love. So Herod Antipas arranged to divorce his first wife and married Herodias, his brother’s wife, instead. John said that this was not right. So Herod Antipas threw him into prison.

Do you think this was what John was expecting for his ministry? He was the forerunner, sent to prepare the way for the Messiah. He knew and gladly accepted that he would grow less as the Christ came into focus. We see no self-appointed arrogance in John. He confesses that he’s not fit to carry even the Messiah’s sandals. But he had preached that the ax already lay along the root of the trees. He had preached that the Coming One had the winnowing fork in his hand to separate his grain from the chaff which would be burnt with unquenchable fire. But where was that justice? Where was God’s judgment as he lingers there in prison?

Can you empathize with John? How could this be God’s plan? Why weren’t God’s promises working out the way he expected? How long would his suffering go on? Jesus had to be the One because he saw the Holy Spirit descend and remain on Jesus as God had promised. But where were those acts of judgment.?Was maybe another one coming to fulfill that? Can you empathize with this struggle of faith, his spiritual questions, even his doubts and confusion?

But John knows where to turn for help. He sends two of his followers to go and ask Jesus. Jesus is the One.

What does Jesus do? He points John to the Scriptures, but not in a mechanical way that simply says: "Read the Bible more." Rather, he draws John and us into the fulfillment of the prophecies: "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 . . ." (Matthew 11:4, 5 NIV).

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