Summary: There are misconceptions,attitudes, actions or the lack there of that keep us from embracing the coming of Christ and his Kingdom life.
Title: The Snares of Advent: Snares in Life
Text: Matthew 3:1-12
Thesis: There are misconceptions, attitudes, actions or the lack there of that keep us from embracing the coming of the Christ and Kingdom Life.
(John said the Kingdom is “near” but Jesus clarified that when he said the Kingdom is “among” you. The rule of Christ in our lives is both now and then… so while we wait for the visible rule of Christ we live into the invisible Kingdom rule of Christ now. Embracing the Christ who came and is coming again is to live into Kingdom life now in anticipation of then.)
There is a sculpture of a figure wrapped in a blanket, looking a lot like the homeless we see on the benches and grates of a city. The figure has gaping wounds in his feet. The piece is titled: Jesus the Homeless. Two prominent churches, one in Toronto, Canada and the other in New York city, have rejected that image of Jesus opting to not have the sculpture places on their campuses… they did not like the idea of Jesus identifying so much with the homeless of society. Never mind Jesus once said of himself, “The Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”
This time of year the nativity accounts and scenes of Jesus’ birth are the artwork of our Christmas cards and outdoor Nativity Scenes and the centerpiece of our Christmas pageants. A crude animal shelter and a hay manger hardly make for the scene of the birth of the Son of God. Certainly the cruel depictions of Christ’s death on a cross hardly make for a majestic coronation of the King of the Jews, much less the Savior of the world. And a sculpture depicting Jesus as a homeless person sleeping on a park bench hardly fits the image of the Son of God.
Jesus did not look or act the part of the Son of God and Savior of the world.
Our text today introduces us to John the Baptist. John the Baptist was Jesus’ front-man. He looked little like a slick Madison Avenue ad-man or a TV preacher or televangelist. John the Baptist did not look or act the part of someone God would send as the official front-man for the Son of God and Savior of the world.
Today I am wondering if there are some misconceptions suggested in our text, that keep us from seeing and welcoming the Christ of Advent.
Half-truths always seem to trip us up.
I. Beware the snare of the half-truth
John the Baptist began preaching, “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” Matthew 3:1-3
Here is a little misconception. Have you heard that George Washington wore wooden teeth? The fact that he had no teeth is true but wooden-teeth is a half-truth. In fact his dentures were made of gold, hippopotamus ivory, lead, and human and animal teeth (including horse and donkey teeth). That little known factoid is gross but hardly of any eternal consequence.
However, failure to fully hear John the Baptist’s “Prepare the way of the Lord” speech may be of eternal consequence.
Few people probably really grasp the whole truth of who Jesus is. Not every Jesus is the real Jesus.
• There's the Republican Jesus—who is against tax increases and activist judges, for family values and owning firearms.
• There's Democrat Jesus—who is against Wall Street and Wal-Mart, for reducing our carbon footprint and printing money.
• There's Therapist Jesus—who helps us cope with life's problems, heals our past, tells us how valuable we are and not to be so hard on ourselves.
• There's Starbucks Jesus—who drinks fair trade coffee, loves spiritual conversations, drives a hybrid, and goes to film festivals.
• There's Touchdown Jesus—who helps athletes run faster and jump higher than non-Christians and determines the outcomes of ball games. (Especially so today as the Broncos host the Tennessee Titans here in Denver…)
And then there's Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God. The one to establish God's reign and rule; the one to heal the sick, give sight to the blind, freedom to the prisoners and proclaim Good News to the poor; the Lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world.
This Christ is not a reflection of the current mood or the projection of our own pre-conceived notions and needs. He is our Lord and God. He is the Father's Son, Savior of the world, and substitute for our sins—more loving, more holy, and more wonderfully terrifying than we ever thought possible. (Kevin DeYoung, "Who Do You Say That I Am?" from his DeYoung, Restless, and Reformed blog, posted 6-10-09)
Today we find ourselves in a Season in which we are reminded to once again welcome the coming Christ by preparing our hearts and lives through repentance and turning to God.