Summary: Sermon for the 3rd Sunday in Advent, Series "B"
3rd Sunday in Advent December 11, 2005 “Series B”
Grace be unto you and peace, from God our Father and from our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Let us pray: Dear Heavenly Father, as we progress through this season of Advent, continue to move us by the power of your Spirit to prepare our hearts and minds to appreciate anew the gift of your Son, who alone can bring the light of your grace into our darkened lives. Grant us courage to witness to our faith, that others may come to experience the light of your presence, and the hope that you alone can give. This we ask in Christ’s Holy name. Amen.
Last Sunday, our Gospel lesson consisted of the first eight verses of the Gospel of Mark, in which he began to tell us the good news of Jesus the Christ, not with stories of our Lord’s birth, but with the ministry of John the baptizer.
Mark emphasized that John was a pure prophet in the classic sense, even dressing like Elijah in a tunic woven from camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist. He told us that John set up shop in the wilderness, living off the land by eating locust and wild honey, preaching a message of repentance, and baptizing those who came to hear him, as a means of helping them prepare their hearts for the coming of God’s Son.
This morning, our Gospel lesson is from the opening section of the John’s Gospel, and the verses selected again center on this John, who has been preaching and baptizing in the wilderness. But the author of this fourth Gospel gives us another angle to consider in our journey of faith. The author of our text for this morning is not interested in how John dressed, or what he ate. He is not interested in how his personality and demeanor identified him with Israel’s past prophets. That seems to be evident by the answers that our author reports John giving to those who sought to know by what authority he conducted his ministry.
Rather, the author of our text for this morning is more interested in the role that John played as a witness, as a person who pointed to Jesus and proclaimed Jesus to be the Christ, the light of world, the very Son of God, than he was about John’s character. The author of the fourth Gospel is a theologian, who is not as interested in having us know all of the details and stories of persons surrounding the life of Jesus, as he is in having us understand the significance of what Jesus’ life means for us.
In all honesty, this is another one of those times that I wish that our text included the full context in which it occurs in this Gospel. For in the first chapter, right from the beginning, the author John describes for us in theological terms, a tremendous event that has taken place in history. Thus, I would like to summarize the context in which our lesson for this morning appears, according to the literary technique called a chiasm, the form in which it was written.
John begins his Gospel by telling us that “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word became flesh and lived among us.” This is our author’s way of describing what took place in the birth of Jesus the Christ. The Word that was with God from the beginning of time, has entered our human race in the person of Jesus.
Secondly, John’s Gospel tells us that this Word that was with God from the beginning, took part in the creation of the universe. In John’s words, “All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being.” But then John adds that even though the Word had had become flesh and entered our human race, we didn’t recognize him for who he truly is. In John’s words, “He was in the world, and the world came into being through him, yet the world did not know him.”
And thirdly, John’s Gospel tells us that this Word become flesh, who had participated in the creation of the universe, possessed the gift of life for all people, which would illumine the darkness of our sinful world. Again, in John’s words, “What has come into being in him was life, and this life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
Now we come to our text for this morning. “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John, He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but