Summary: ADVENT 2(B) - Prepare hearts for Jesus’ return by recognizing our sinful ways and then looking to Jesus’ forgiveness.
PREPARE HEARTS FOR JESUS’ ARRIVAL (Outline)
MARK 1:1-8 - December 5, 2004 - ADVENT 2
1The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
2It is written in Isaiah the prophet: "I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way"-- 3"a voice of one calling in the desert, `Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’ “ 4And so John came, baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. 6John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 7And this was his message: "After me will come one more powerful than I, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. 8I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."
INTRO.: It seems as if outward preparations for the Christmas season have become quite routine. We know in which box the decorations have been stored. We only need to drag them out for another year. But what about our inward preparations? We will want hearts that are wholly holy for the coming of the King! Today’s text points us to the humility of John the Baptist as the way-preparer for Jesus. We are also reminded to prepare our hearts. "Teach me your way, O LORD, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever"(PSALM 86:11,12).
PREPARE HEARTS FOR JESUS’ ARRIVAL
I. Recognize our sinful ways
II. Look to Jesus’ forgiveness
I. RECOGNIZE OUR SINFULNESS
A. The Gospel of Mark was addressed to a Gentile audience / believers.
1. Today’s text reminds believers that all things work according to God’s gracious plan.
2. In verse 2 Mark points that someone would come as the way-preparer.
B. This coming way-preparer is described in verse 3. He would be a wilderness preacher.
1. This is a fitting description of John the Baptist. Verse 4. John came as foretold.
2. John came as fulfillment of God’s promise. He led a no-frills life described in verse 6.
C. John preached a simple message of repentance. People were to recognize their sinful ways.
1. This message so badly needed that many come out of comfortable city to hear. Verse 5a.
2. Note the effect of the message of repentance in verse 5b. They came to the message.
3. John’s baptism was a baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
D. Imagine the singular message for people to recognize sinfulness. Would that message draw crowds? Are we so willing to look in our hearts at our own sinfulness? Not always. This is exactly what is needed! Turn to Genesis and you see that man is naturally sinful. "The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time"(GENESIS 6:5).
E. Today people live to fulfill their many sinful desires. For believers we run into a conflict with such a worldly attitude. As believers we know what is right and what is wrong. As believers we can struggle with sin and overcome sin with the help of our holy God. "For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want"(GALATIANS 5:17).
F. Make no mistake; the believer is born with the same heart as everyone else in this world. It is important that in all of our outward preparations for Christmas we honestly look inside. As we honestly look inward we discover something very unpleasant. "For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly" (MARK 7:21,22).
TRANS.: We are reminded to PREPARE HEARTS FOR JESUS’ ARRIVAL. The first step is to recognize our sinful ways and our helplessness. In our helplessness we look to Jesus’ forgiveness.
II. LOOK TO JESUS’ FORGIVENESS
A. John the Baptist was a called servant of God to call others out of darkness into light.
1. The Baptist’s message would seem to be unpleasant. Still many came. Verse 5a.
2. People had been eagerly waiting for the Christ, the Messiah. Promise to Adam and Eve.
B. The promise made hundreds (literally thousands) of years earlier.
1. Generation after generation eagerly watched for this promised Messiah.