Summary: The shallow adulation and transitory merriment that the people showed toward John the Baptist is echoed toward Christ in the world’s celebration during what is known as advent or the Christmas season.
‘TIS THE SEASON
I. The Season of John the Baptist
A. The Ministry of John the Baptist
1. He was a burning and a shining light
2. Several words can be used for light
a. Luchnos – a portable lamp or luminary.
b. phōs – light, source of luminousness
3. A light shining in the darkness lighting the path to the true light – Jesus Christ.
4. John 1:6-8 There was a man sent from God; his name was John. This one came as a witness, to bear witness concerning the Light, so that all might believe through him. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.
B. The Initial Reaction to John’s Ministry
1. “You were willing for a season to rejoice in his light.”
2. Rejoice – literally “jump for joy’
3. When John first appeared among them, they were fond, and even proud of him; they gloried in him that a man of such uncommon endowments, and of such exemplary holiness, was raised up among them.
4. John the Baptists message resulted in his being extremely popular.
5. John’s message “The King is Coming” was met with great joy and elation.
6. They rejoiced that he professed to be sent to introduce the Messiah.
7. Mark 1:5 And all the land of Judea, and those of Jerusalem, went out to him and were all baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins.
8. Matthew 3:5 Then Jerusalem and all Judea went out to him, and all the region round about Jordan.
9. The Jews were attracted to John “like moths to a candle” (Bernard)
C. The Rejection of John’s Ministry.
1. “You were willing FOR A SEASON to rejoice in his light.”
2. In the original, for an “hour” - denoting only a short time. They did it, as many others do, while he was popular, and it was the “fashion” to follow him.
3. The interest in the Baptist was a frivolous, superficial, and short-lived excitement.
4. Bengel says, “they were attracted by his brightness, not by his warmth.”
5. They were willing, like children, to play in John’s light without stopping to seriously consider its meaning, but when he bore testimony to Christ they blasphemed him. (Matthew 11:18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He has a demon.)
6. The prospect of a King overthrowing the Romans and bringing glory To Israel was exciting and enticing. But to follow the carpenter was another issue. When John the Baptist pointed to Jesus Christ as the Messiah his popularity stopped.
Transition: The shallow adulation and transitory merriment that the people showed toward John the Baptist echoes the world’s celebrations during what is known as advent or the Christmas season.
II. The Season of Christmas
A. Traditionally the fourth Sunday before Christmas day, which is the Sunday nearest November 30, marks the beginning of Advent and the Christmas Season. Christmas is a very special time of the year. It is a holiday that both children and adults enjoy. Songwriters have called it “the most wonderful time of the year” and “the season to be jolly”.
B. The General Acceptance of Christmas.
1. There are numerous reasons why people delight during the advent season.
a. Merchants enjoy the season as the largest profits of the year are made during this time.
b. Parents and grandparents look forward to the family gatherings.
c. Wide-eyed children eagerly anticipate unwrapping the colorfully wrapped gifts laid under the tree.
d. Everyone delights in the joyful and merry Christmas melodies and the vividly sparkling festive lights and decorations.
2. Very few find the celebration of the birth of a babe in a manger in Bethlehem offensive. To be sure there are some but by most “for a season” the world celebrates.
3. Tim Gorski, an atheist and pastoral director of the North Texas Church of Freethought says that Christmas is not just for Christians but for atheists too. He states that Christmas is all about stopping to make the time for what we sometimes think we don’t have time for. Things like being jolly. Peace and goodwill towards all. Generosity. Caring. (What Does Christmas Mean For Atheists? December, 1997, The North Texas Church of Freethought by Tim Gorski, M.D.)
C. The Rejection of Christ.
1. Just like those who followed John it is but for a season. As long as the world can keep Him the babe in the manger they will celebrate.
2. Illustration - A ten year old girl went with a group of family and friends to see the Christmas light displays at various locations throughout the city. At one church, they stopped and got out to look more closely at a beautifully done nativity scene. "Isn’t that beautiful?" said the little girl’s grandmother. "Look at all the animals, Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus." "Yes, Grandma," replied the granddaughter. "It is really nice. But there is only one thing that bothers me. Isn’t baby Jesus ever going to grow up... he’s the same size he was last year."