Summary: A sermon for the 2nd Sunday in Advent John the Baptist Preaching Repentance
2nd Sunday in Advent
3:1 ¶ In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene,
2 in the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness;
3 and he went into all the region about the Jordan, preaching
4 As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, "The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
5 Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth;
6 and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.
Grace and Peace to you from our Lord and Saviour, Jesus who is the Christ. Amen
Our Advent story continues with the story of Elizabeth and John.
John comes preaching in the wilderness. He comes preaching "a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins."
John comes preaching the law. And at the same time, he comes to bring a message of good news. Someone mightier than him is coming into this world.
There are two kinds of religion in the world, a religion of law and a religion of grace. Those who cling to a religion of law are like a young monkey who clings to his mother for dear life as she transports it around.
A religion of grace is like a mother cat who picks up her kittens in their helplessness and carries them.
A religion of law produces a fearful, uncertain clinging to the proposition that if a person’s good deeds outweigh his bad, God will look upon him with favor.
A religion of grace recognizes one’s personal helplessness and inability to find favor with God. The transforming good news is that God for Christ’s sake rescues us in our helplessness. He lifts us out of the old life with its downward pull and motivates us to live by his love and Grace.
John came with a message of both law and grace. The law of repentance and the grace of the one who was coming to forgive sins.
John was unique because he was special.
John was a special child as his existence was foretold early on as it says in Isaiah 40 3 ¶ A voice cries: "In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
John was born of special parents for John was of the priestly race by both parents, for his father Zacharias was himself a priest of the course of Abia, or Abijah offering incense at the very time when a son was promised to him; and Elizabeth was of the daughters of Aaron. Both, too, were devout persons--walking in the commandments of God, and waiting for the fulfillment of his promise to Israel.
Elizabeth’s son, John was a special child and child called to a mission even before his birth. A mission to proclaim the coming of the Lord. For this Advent season is a season of proclaiming. Proclaiming the coming of the babe born in the manger.
And John’s job was to make us ready for the coming by proclaiming that we should repent and turn to the Lord.
That word repent is difficult to understand, as the dictionaries say it means, A complete reversal of one’s attitude and values, i. e. a turning toward God or To feel such regret for past conduct as to change one’s mind regarding it or To make a change for the better as a result of remorse or contrition for one’s sins.
As you can see all the definitions contain one common idea, it is to make a change. But change is difficult for us. And it is even more difficult because many of us never believe that we must repent.
We say to ourselves, I’m not so bad. I’m better than that person.
Our text says that "he went into all the region about the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins."
John knew that for the people to get ready for the coming of the Babe, they had to see that indeed they were sinners and needed the forgiveness that the Babe would bring through his life, death and resurrection.
But if you believed that you indeed did not need to repent, then you do not need the Saviour?
So John told the people over 2000 years ago to repent, to get ready for the Saviour, and he is telling us the same thing. Get ready, acknowledge your sinfulness, repent and the forgiveness of the Babe born in the manger will be yours.