Summary: This is a message about Repentance. John's Message of Repentance is a Message of Hope. It's a message of Hope because it reminds us that: 1. God is For Us 2. God wants to Work in Us 3. God wants to Work through Us
Title: The Hope of Repentance
John's Message of Repentance is a Message of Hope. It's a message of Hope because it reminds us that: 1. God is For Us 2. God wants to Work in Us 3. God wants to Work through Us
Also - Advent #2 - Year A
Grace and peace from God our Father and from Jesus Christ His Son who came to take away the sin of the world
Is there any greater message of hope this morning in what that statement we just shared? Grace and peace from God our Father and from Jesus Christ His Son who came to take away the sins of the world.
This morning, I want to invite you to take a trip with me. We are going to travel down to the Jordan River where John the Baptist is preaching. If we are coming over from Jerusalem it's going to be about a 20 - 25 mile journey. If we are coming down with Jesus from Galilee it's about 70 miles and if we are coming up from the area of Beersheba it's about 80 miles. So, go find your sandals, grab some food and water and let's go.
25 miles, 70 miles and 80 miles. It would be easy for us here this morning to hop into a car and make those distances in less than an hour and a half. However, in Jesus day most people had to walk from one place to another. A few people rode a donkey and even fewer had a camel or a horse. So, if we were walking from Jerusalem to where John was preaching and baptizing it would take us about two days. Coming from Galilee and Beersheba would have taken us a minimum of five or six days and that is just one way. We have to get back home so we need to factor in a return trip as well. That means in order for us to go and listen to John preach we need to carve out a least a week of our time if we are coming from Jerusalem and about 2 to 3 weeks of our time if we are coming from Galilee and Beersheba.
Suddenly, we see the passion and dedication that these people had in coming to hear John the Baptist preach. Matthew 3 verse five tells us that people all around Jerusalem, Judea and the region came out to hear John, to confess their sins and to be baptized by him in the Jordan River.
So, what caused people to pack up days worth of food, take off from work and set out to camp out underneath the stars for an extended time in order to hear John the Baptist? I mean how many of us would really travel five or six days one way to hear someone preach? How many people including yourself do you think would travel that far to hear someone tell you that you need to repent of your sins, be baptized in water and then live out a transformed life? What made John and his message have that much magnetism?
It certainly was not his appearance or the sharing of his diet. Wearing a coat of camel's hair with a leather belt was not high fashion in that day especially not out in the wilderness. Munching on a diet of locusts and wild honey wasn't the reason people traveled for weeks at a time to get to be around John. Added to this anyone going in those days couldn't send back a selfie of them and John standing in the River Jordan together. It also wasn't the added attraction of a praise band, some family friendly blow up inflatables or even comfortable chairs because there were not any around.
We find the answer in the opening chapters of Luke's Gospel. It has to do with John's birth and God's anointing on him. Luke shares with us the stories of the angel Gabriel and the barrenness of Zechariah and Elizabeth. He shares how God supernaturally enables Elizabeth to bear John. Luke shares how the Holy Spirit reveals that John will be a man "full of the Holy Spirit and a Prophet of the Most High." Luke lets us know that John will be anything but normal.
For a moment, let's focus on those words "Full of the Holy Spirit and a Prophet of the Most High". Here was a man who was filled with God's Holy Spirit. A man who had been given the anointing of being one of God's Prophet. No wonder those people were drawn to put aside their jobs and their everyday lives and travel out to the wilderness to hear and respond to John's Message of the Hope of Repentance. They were drawn by the anointed power of the Holy Spirit in John. They were drawn by the Hope they heard in John's message of Repentance, Baptism and Spiritual Formation.