Summary: A sermon for the 3rd Sunday in Advent B A sermon about John the Baptist witnessing to the coming light
Third Sunday in Advent
"The Man Who Witnessed"
6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
7 He came for testimony, to bear witness to the light, that all might believe through him.
8 He was not the light, but came to bear witness to the light.
19 And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, "Who are you?"
20 He confessed, he did not deny, but confessed, "I am not the Christ."
21 And they asked him, "What then? Are you Elijah?" He said, "I am not." "Are you the prophet?" And he answered, "No."
22 They said to him then, "Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?"
23 He said, "I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, ’Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said."
24 Now they had been sent from the Pharisees.
25 They asked him, "Then why are you baptizing, if you are neither the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?"
26 John answered them, "I baptize with water; but among you stands one whom you do not know,
27 even he who comes after me, the thong of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie."
28 This took place in Bethany beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing.
Grace and Peace to you from our Lord and Saviour, Jesus who is the one coming. Amen
Have you ever been called on the carpet by anyone? You know what I mean, have you ever been called in front of someone, someone who had authority over you to explain some actions, to explain something that you did or said?
If you have, you know that is a very uncomfortable feeling. And it is even more uncomfortable if the people you are standing in front of are very angry with you and you cannot figure out what you did so wrong. ’
John the Baptist in our gospel lesson this morning was called on the carpet by the religious rulers his asking him who he thinks he is preaching out in the, wilderness, this baptism of repentance.
They wanted to know who John thought himself to be, and why he thought he had the right to be doing this kind of preaching.
Can you picture the scene? There is John, this giant; rugged individual, standing front of these wimps, these religious rulers with their flowing robes, their leather bands around their heads and wrists and they are probably waging their ’fingers at John screaming at him because they are angry with his kind of preaching and John is calmly and coolly standing there telling them all he is doing is preaching about one who is coming.
Can you just hear his words: "Hey, guys don’t get so upset I am not doing something so awful, NO, I am not the Christ, I am not Elijah, I am not a prophet, I am just a voice crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord as Prophet Isaiah said. I am preparing the way for one who is mightier than I, whose sandal I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with Power, with the Holy Spirit."
John gave a witness to the one who was coming. He bore witness to Jesus. He stood his ground, he told about what he saw as his mission, he told about the coming of Jesus’ public ministry. John the Baptist was called by God to bear witness to the coming of Jesus’ public ministry. He was called to be a voice of God in this world, he was called to prepare people for Jesus. And his calling from God was not a popular calling.
The religious rulers were angry with him, they could not understand where he got the authority, or the power, or who’s permission to do this kind of preaching: John didn’t fit the mold the people were looking for.
John wasn’t what you call the typical religious ruler of his day. But John was faithful to his calling, he was faithful because he knew he was called by God for this mission. He knew God would give him the strength to carry forth.
John came not to show how great he was, which by the way was the mold for the religious rulers; he came to show others another who was greater than he was. John came to bear witness to the light of the world. John was being used, not as the center of attraction, but as the light pointing to someone else.
We have beautiful stained glass windows in this church. The workmanship of these windows are beautiful, the pictures they display are superb. But without light, without sun light, shining through these windows, their beauty, will never be seen.