Summary: The second sermon for Advent 2008. Reflecting on the Peace that can only be received through a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
Messenger of Peace
Advent is the season of preparation for the coming of Christ. We remember when Christ was born in this time of the year. It is more symbolic than literal.
When I was considering these 4 weeks before Christmas I began to think of preparation for when someone comes. It depends on who is coming – how much we prepare doesn’t it? If it’s a friend or someone who comes by all of the time, often we prepare very little. Maybe we’ll throw away a stuff that has gathering around the house or shove some of the children’s toys into the closet.
But what if a far away relative, or some important family, or some person you’re trying to impress is coming? Often we’ll step it up several notches. The floors will be mopped and the carpet vacuumed. The house will get a shake down and cob webs are cleared, mirrors are buffed and shined, thrash taken far away, and the toilets are scrubbed.
But what if George W. Bush made a special arrangement to come by for a visit this year to your house? WOW! Can you imagine the cleaning job you’d do? You might even have to hire some help! I can imagine that some of you might even be doing some repainting and basic repairs that for years have gone to the wayside.
John the Baptist began preparing believers for someone more important that George W. Bush. John the Baptist came and announced the ministry of Jesus Christ! The same Christ that would save all who believed in him, and those He promised that when they physically die would not die but live again with Him.
Can you now imagine what kind of preparation we should do as we anticipate the coming of Christ? In this season it’s not so much about getting your house in order as it is about getting your heart right. We need to prepare ourselves in anticipation of the celebration of Christ’s birth. Today we have lit the candle of peace, to remind us that Christ is the peace we have. As we look a this text in Mark, we will find that John the Baptist began to prepare the way for all people to receive Christ. First, prophecy in the Old Testament told of John the Baptist.
I. The Prophecy of the Messenger (vv. 2-3)
a. Isaiah prophecies that a messenger will come who will prepare for the servant of peace.
i. This messenger says Isaiah will come to prepare the way for the Lord – in order that the paths might be straight for him.
ii. Notice what the verse says, “it is written” – This points to the scriptural basis for John’s baptism and preaching.
1. He was not just another random man preaching or offering to cleanse sins – he was truly called of God to do so.
iii. Verse 3 nearly perfectly recounts Isaiah 40:3
1. This is not a new idea, but rather an Old prophecy from at least 300 years prior; that John the Baptist now fulfills.
Most of us here can remember one key phrase for TV – “Here’s Johnny” – Ed McMahon would always introduce the host of The Late Night Show with that key phrase. It signaled the end of the evening news and time for Johnny Carson’s evening monologue. Ed McMahon performed a viatal role, but he himself was never the focus of the show. John the Baptist is similar in that he is not the focus of scripture’s message, yet at the same time he announces the entrance of Christ’s formal ministry.
II. The Messenger (vv. 4-6)
a. Who is this messenger?
i. John the Baptist here is described as the messenger, preaching and baptizing.
ii. This man was dressed in clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist.
1. Not your current day cover of GQ magazine.
iii. And the food of his choosing was locusts and wild honey!
1. Who wants to try that diet!
iv. Not your typical person!
b. It say of this messenger that all the people of Jerusalem went to see him.
i. They confessed their sin, and were baptized in the Jordan River.
ii. The word baptize here means to dip or submerge and so is similar to the baptism our church practices. A total immersion in the water.
iii. Further note he preaches a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
c. This John was not a typical man, neither was his practice of baptizing those who were forgiven of sin typical.
i. But John the Baptist had an important message for sinners:
1. CHRIST IS COMING – Peace at last for the broken hearted!
III. The Message of Peace (vv. 7-8)