Summary: A sermon for the 2nd Sunday in Advent Series C A sermon about John the Baptist
2nd Sunday in Advent
"No John, No Jesus"
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 a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
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 today with the story of John the Baptist. Remember our story of salvation begins with two women, Elizabeth and Mary. Remember Elizabeth was told she was too old to become pregnant, but she did and bore a son who she named John. Mary we were told became pregnant by the Holy Spirit and her son would be named Jesus. But her story continues later.
Today we deal with Elizabeth and John.
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.
A man said.
"Most people repent their sins by thanking God they ain’t so wicked as their neighbors."1
Isn’t that true. We can see the speck in our neighbors eye but not the log in ours. But John is saying to us that all of us fall short of what God expects of us. All of us sin, period. So all of us need to repent and accept the forgiveness of the one born in the manger.
Without John there would be no Jesus. For without hearing from John the Baptist that we are sinners, we would not need the Christ child. For what good is forgiveness without acknowledging that one has something to be forgiven for?
Many years ago C.S. Lewis wrote the Screwtape Letters. Screwtape was an assistant devil writing to his nephew Wormwood. Screwtape was telling his nephew how to make the "patient" leave the camp of the arch enemy, the Prince of Peace, and dwell in the camp of the real boss, the prince of darkness. It is a great read!