Summary: How John the Baptist’s preparation for life and ministry can serve as an outline for our Advent preparation.
Preparing the Way!
Advent is about preparation. Preparation of our houses, meals, presents. It should be preparation of our lives, our hearts, selves.
We continue by looking at an individual who knew what preparation was about, John the Baptist. Jesus said in 11:11 “Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist.” That is an endorsement we can trust. None greater.
Headliner: Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near!
Stuck to his message. Billy Graham stuck to his message.
1. His Ministry
Prophetic fulfillment. V3
God’s kingdom takes preparation. V3
There are straight paths, rights and wrongs. V3
Marketing strategy. V4
Specialty Foods – chocolate covered bugs
Draws a crowd. V5
Gets results. V6
Confess their sins.
Baptized – outward, public sign of inward change.
2. His Enemies
Pharisees & Sadducees
Filled with religious pride
There is a story of a clergyman who pridefully was musing about what a fine preacher he had become. So he said to his wife, "How many really great preachers do you think there are?" She thought for a minute and said, "Well, I don’t know, but there is probably one less than you think."
They had education, wealth, and power. They were the teachers, interpreters of the Law, rulers of the Temple, guides to the proper practices and sacrifices, and so on. And they thought of themselves as the chosen of the chosen. They believed that they were direct descendants of the first Jew, father Abraham himself. The Pharisees and Sadducees were proud as peacocks of that.
3. His Message.
Lost this word’s meaning in modern American society. Have a change of feeling. Shed some tears. Blame someone else. Return to old lifestyle.
Throw it in reverse. Change course completely. Accept responsibility for your actions of the past and future.
The kingdom of heaven is near. V1
The Russians are coming. 70’s, Vietnam war, nightly news, images.
God’s kingdom, His rule, reign, authority, judgement. They are all just around the corner. You had better live your life accordingly.
Public confrontation of hypocrisy V7
You bunch of snakes.
Always able to wiggle out of a situation.
Hide in tight spots.
Coming wrath & you are going to get it.
No sugar coating. No political correctness. No watering down of the message. Straight & true.
Judgement is coming. Wrath!
Who had warned his enemies.
Call to action V8
Produce fruit – walk the talk.
People should be able to pick the fruit of our lives, eat and be refreshed, strengthened, nourished, healed.
Questions accepted assumptions V9
Relatives don’t get you to heaven. V9
Not family, genetics, culture, religious preference, tolerance. None of these will get you to heaven.
God’s work alone. Changing of stones. They were pretty hard. V9
Clearing of fields. Established crops are destroyed. The old ways of thinking don’t work. V10
The axe. Lots of dead, unproductive wood.
Dead is burned. Unproductive destroyed.
4. His perspective
I’m just a pointer. V11
I’m not ultimately powerful