Summary: Delivering the gospel message
December 9, 2018
The Messenger/The Voice
I remember as a youngster always looking for the mailman. He was so very faithful to deliver our mail every day. There were not many kids my age to hang out with, so many times I would just walk along with the mailman as he delivered the mail on his route. He was a kind man and tolerated me and all along the route housewives would come to the door and smile at this little guy, that walked with the mailman.
But it was the mailman that delivered the mail. Today just as then, our mailboxes are crammed full of mail from political promises, to sales promotions, to bills and bank statements, and even some with all kinds of promises for a chance to get rich.
Who hasn’t at one time or another dreamed of winning the Readers Digest Sweepstakes, or scratching off a chance to be the winner of a brand-new shiny automobile, etc., etc. Every piece of mail is in and of itself a message, some vital and some pure junk. But the mailman is the messenger that delivers the messages.
The message itself is from the sender, the one who ultimately is the one who sends the messenger. For mail, it is that tiny stamp in the corner that directs the mail to its destination.
In today’s gospel reading, we see John the Baptist as the messenger, the one who delivers the message. John’s message was that of repentance and a proclamation of the gospel truth of Jesus the Christ. John was a most important character as the messenger of the gospel AND baptizing with the message of repentance. His personage and his message were prophesied by the prophet Isaiah. Not a bad intro, right?
For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying:
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the LORD; Make His paths straight.’” Matthew 3:3
“Comfort, yes, comfort My people!” Says your God.
“Speak comfort to Jerusalem, and cry out to her, that her warfare is ended,
That her iniquity is pardoned; For she has received from the LORD’s hand
Double for all her sins.” The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
“Prepare the way of the LORD; Make straight in the desert
A highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted
And every mountain and hill brought low; The crooked places shall be made straight
And the rough places smooth; The glory of the LORD shall be revealed,
And all flesh shall see it together; For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” Isaiah 40:1-5 (I encourage you to read this chapter in Isaiah and meditate on it.)
Okay, so John was a cousin of Jesus. That relationship did not gain him in biblical account. It wasn’t who he was nor was it who he knew. It was what he did with his life and service. John was a humble man and sought no glory for himself – as important was his calling and ministry.
John answered and said, “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ,’ but, ‘I have been sent before Him.’ He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore, this joy of mine is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease. John 3:27- 30
O could we preachers learn from this!
Back to my childhood. We used to receive a newsletter from the church on a monthly basis. It was entitled “The Voice”. I didn’t understand much of what was in it, but I did try and read it and recognized it as the message from the church. Today messages from the church are via an email, as are ours here or (in my opinion regrettably) updated on a webpage, meaning one must be truly seeking to go online and read from a webpage, as a discipline. Our mailman messenger was a man of importance, who in no way sought the glory of the sender of any of the messages that he delivered.
Maybe that sounds trite but from where I stand that is the attitude maintained by John the Baptist. I also believe that God’s design for pulpit messengers is exactly that. I confess that it is probably an area that needs my attention.
Let us pray -
I humbly and sincerely ask for your prayers!
Note: It is the practice of this church to preach straight from the bible. We follow the lectionary assigned readings from which the sermon/messages are derived.