Summary: Jesus shows us that when things don’t go our way, and panic and impatience grips our heart,that He is still in control.
THIRD SUNDAY IN ADVENT
TEXT: MATTHEW 11:2-11
SERMON TITLE: Panicked? Impatient? Christ is in Control.
Two of our readings this morning surround us with the call to be patient! In Matthew, the patience that is referred to is one that surrounds life issues. In James, the patience that is referred to reflects upon the coming of Christ. If you have difficulty being patient in either area, then this message is for you.
John the Baptist, the man called and assigned to be the prophet who would prepare the way for the Lord, finds his freedom has been restrained. But this is not the reason why He prepared all those years to be the Messiah’s witness. John wants to be out there in the world, continuing to spread the news of repentance and the good news of the coming Savior. Yet, with all his desire to serve the Lord, John finds himself restrained. But in John’s mind, this restraint should not be happening for you see, Jesus the Messiah was now out and about, so surely He would free John from prison.
How can we apply this message to our life? Let’s say you lose your keys and thus you can’t get in your house and your family is coming shortly for a visit in order to celebrate Christmas. This messes with your entire day. You had plans to clean the house, to wrap presents, and basically get things ready for your family to arrive. And so, you call your spouse, or friend who has a spare set of keys to the house and tell them of your predicament. When you relay the message, and your situation you are able to calm down a bit. But then an hour goes by and your still locked out of your house. The keys have yet to have been delivered. What will start to go through your mind, during such a situation? How patient would you be able to be if you only had a few hours to prepare for the arrival of your guests? How patient would you be with your spouse or friend?
I know of many people, including myself, that would in one degree or another, become a bit unstable. I am usually a person that wants to get from point “A” to point “B” as quickly as possible. And if something impedes my journey, especially if I am in a hurry, I admit that I can become a prisoner of panic and a slave to impatience. And I have rarely met the soul who can remain patient in a time crunch.
When you are in the prison of panic, you can lose all sense of reality. When impatience starts to control you, all bets are off. You can start to worry. You can begin to stress out and you can become angry. Think upon the imaginary person who lost her keys. What would she be thinking after waiting outside for an hour, for her keys to arrive? Maybe something like, “Where is he, where are my keys, what is taking so long?” “He knows I am in a hurry, doesn’t He care?” When things are going well and you are not rushed, you would most likely not have such thoughts. You would still think of your friend/spouse as trustworthy. You would most likely have no doubt that your keys would get there, eventually. But when you are under a time constraint, like the one in this scenario, you might start to question your spouse/friends ability to come through in the clutch. You might wonder if that person cares enough about you to aid you in a time of crisis.
Why do I suggest these possibilities? Well, because that is exactly what John was going through. If you remember, not too long ago, John knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus was indeed the Messiah. He said to Jesus, “I am unworthy to even tie your shoes, it should be you to baptize me.” But now, John is in prison and all his certainties are going right out the window. He has, at this time, lost patience and at the very least, doubts that Jesus really is the Messiah. Maybe he was thinking in this way, “If Jesus was the Messiah, he would get me out of this prison. He would see to my needs. He would come through for me!”
And so John calls upon his disciples to find Jesus and ask him, “Are you the one who was to come, or shall we expect another?”
Wow! Talk about being in prison! The greatest prison we can ever get ourselves into is the prison of panic, especially if it causes you to doubt, or think negatively of a loved one. And even more so, if that loved one is Jesus. But that is exactly what we do, when we allow our impatience to consume us. We can forget that Jesus is in charge of the situation. In the case of the missing keys, Jesus would be in charge of the situation in that he would give peace to calm the distraught spirit.