Summary: Repentance leads to an adventure with Christ.
The ADVENT ADVENT-ure
1In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was ruler of Galilee, and his brother Philip ruler of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias ruler of Abilene, 2during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. 3He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, 4as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah,
“The voice of one crying out 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 made low,
and the crooked shall be made straight,
and the rough ways made smooth;
6 and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’”
When the consultants were called to do the consultation with this congregation back when Pastor Mari left, I found it a very hard thing to swallow. I was deeply disappointed and very angry. I was so upset that I wanted to call the Synod office and demand that my name be put up for call to a congregation that needed a good pastor.
What was said about me by some people totally contradicted what I saw in myself and in past experience. Obviously something was wrong with this picture. There’s a failure of expectations; a failure of communication; a failure of vision.
What was really hard was admitting how wrong I was—about myself and my view of this congregation and my view of certain people. I don’t know about you, but I hate being wrong.
1. Do you know anyone who likes admitting they are wrong? Do you like to admit you’re wrong? Of course not!
a. John the Baptist made a career of going around preaching to people and telling them they are wrong. Not only are they wrong, but they absolutely MUST change. The word the Bible uses is REPENTANCE.
b. I wondered about this. Why would people want to hear how wrong they were and why would they want to be told they MUST change? Why would they tear their own clothing as a sign of change? Why would they allow themselves to be dunked in the cold water of the Jordan River as a sign of their changed lives?
2. I think we can understand how John the Baptist succeeded if we can understand the word REPENTANCE.
a. What is REPENTANCE?
i. It’s not a word the church invented. It comes from a long time ago—before there were roads or maps.
ii. Traveling through the wilderness a person can get lost. Getting lost in the wilderness can cost a person his or her life.
iii. When ancient nomads would travel, they were very aware of the fact that they might be going the wrong direction.
1. This awareness of going the wrong direction is step one.
2. But REPENTANCE doesn’t really happen until the traveler changes directions. That’s step two.
b. REPENTANCE was a matter of life or death to the ancient traveler.
c. REPENTANCE is a matter of life or death to anyone’s spiritual life.
i. The payoff for the nomadic traveler of ancient times was life itself.