Summary: A sermon for the 3rd Sunday in Advent that helps us see that despite troubles, God has not deserted us and that we are still blessed.
As we continue in this Advent season it is important to remember that we are not just preparing for Christmas but when Jesus comes again as our saviour and our judge.
In today’s Gospel reading we hear of John being in trouble because he was a witness of Jesus.
John’s story of following Jesus begins in Luke 1:44, where even before he was born we hear that John is excited to be in the presence of Jesus.
Then we don’t hear much about John until a reading we heard last week in Matthew 3, where John prepares the way by calling people to repent.
John is also the one who baptises Jesus.
And today in Matthew 11 we hear that John is in gaol, and this has lead to doubts of whether following Jesus is good idea.
And in Matthew 14:10 we see that John dies as a result of following Jesus.
What difficulties do you face as a result of following Jesus?
Have you ever asked the question or something similar that John asked in today’s Gospel reading,
"Jesus are you the one I should trust my entire life with or should I look elsewhere?"
Now interestingly Jesus doesn’t follow a line that is popular amongst many people today.
Jesus doesn’t say,
’hey John sorry mate you are in trouble,
look I want you to be happy and comfortable,
I want you to be well off,
forget about this suffering,
go and do what makes you happy’
Jesus doesn’t say ’ohh don’t worry about not being a witness for me, so you can be happy and comfortable.’
From time to time each of us fall for a false gospel.
The false gospel say that Jesus wants us to be happy, wealthy, comfortable and wise, right now and all the time.
That my friends is not scriptural.
Being happy, wealthy, comfortable and wise is not necessarily evil, but it is not scriptural.
It is not the determing factor of whether God is pleased with you or not.
So your relationship with God should never be measured on whether these things exist in your life.
And if you strive only for these things you risk your healthy relationship with God.
Because your decisions of whether you will listen to God,
come to church,
participate in bible studies,
continue being a witness for God in this world amongst your family and friends will not be on the basis of what God’s perspective on life is, but on your own perspective.
As a young boy growing up I was often torn between my football club and my church.
And the football club often appealed to me a lot more.
Simply becuase I was accepted by more people and had a lot more friends at my football club than at church.
Unfortunately the football club was a place where everyone was accepted, well nearly everyone,
whilst the church seemed to be a place where you had to dress right, like the some old fashioned kind of music, and act in certain ways to be accepted.
Fortunately this is not the church that God talks about, nor is it the church that we are meant to be. However as a result of my experience I felt less interested in church and more interested in the football club.
That was until an older football following friend of mine, encouraged me to remember that what the God offers throught he church, are good things that will last forever, and whilst they may the church may not be as enticing as a football club, it offers far more than a football club. One is focused on eternal life, whilst the other is simply focussed on making you happy now?
What seems more appealing to you?
Does it offer eternal life, a better life?
It is easy for us to question whether following Jesus is the right thing, particularly when there are other things that seem more enticing.
Now even John when stuck in prison questioned, whether Jesus was the way, or not?
Interestingly listen to how Jesus responds to those who were to bring the message to John.
The first is directly to John via some messengers
Go tell John what you hear and see:
The blind see, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news proclaimed to them. Blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.”
In other words Jesus tells John not to look at his own life to determine if Jesus is the Messiah, the saviour.
But to look at all the good things that is happening to others, around the world.
And this is true in our own life.
Take for instance how God is working through the Australian Lutheran World Service.