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Summary: A sermon for the Second Sunday in Advent A sermon about John the Baptist and Repentance

Second Sunday in Advent

Mark 1:1-8

’Turning Around"

1:1 ¶ The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

2 As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, "Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, who shall prepare thy way;

3 the voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight--"

4 John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

5 And there went out to him all the country of Judea, and all the people of Jerusalem; and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.

6 Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, and had a leather girdle around his waist, and ate locusts and wild honey.

7 And he preached, saying, "After me comes he who is mightier than I, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie.

8 I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."

Grace and peace to you from our Lord and Saviour, the coming Christ. Amen

Our lessons this morning speak about the coming of Christ. During this Advent season, we learn about the three ways that Jesus comes into our lives, Jesus, the babe born in the manger, Jesus who is coming in the second coming, and Jesus who is in the present, in our lives. This Jesus brings his grace and forgiveness into our lives.

This is the Jesus that I want to dwell on this morning. The one who brings forgiveness as we repent.

John the Baptist is speaking about this Jesus this morning when he says: "After me comes he who is mightier than I, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie.

A Mark begins this passage with a quote from Isaiah which speaks about this coming of the one who will prepare the way for Jesus when he says: "Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, who shall prepare thy way;

3 the voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight--"

And finally mark says this about John: "John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins."

John has come to prepare the way for Jesus, to call the people to repentance.

I would like like to tell you two stories that show how John is preparing us for Jesus.

Do you remember the old Johnny Carson show? Johnny received a warm welcome every tine he stepped out on the stage, because some always announced him. Ed McMahon would always bring Johnny out with this great announcement, "Heeere’s Johnny" and the band would break into the theme song and Johnny would stand on stage, make a few pretend swings with a golf club and wait for the clapping to die down.

No one since, I think, has been introduced in the same way.

John the Baptist come to introduce Jesus in the same way. He came to proclaim that the Saviour of the world was coming and we should prepare.

Gordon McDonald tells this story:

"A Nigerian woman who is a physician at a great teaching hospital in the United States came out of the crowd today to say something kind about the lecture I had just given. She introduced herself using an American name.

’What’s your African name?’ I asked. She immediately gave it to me, several syllables long with a musical sound to it.

’What does the name mean?’ I wondered.

She answered, ’It means "Child who takes the anger away."’

When I inquired as to why she would have been given this name, she said, ’My parents had been forbidden by their parents to marry. But they loved each other so much that they defied the family opinions and married anyway. For several years they were ostracized from both their families. Then my mother became pregnant with me. And when the grandparents held me in their arms for the first time, the walls of hostility came down. I became the one who swept the anger away. And that’s the name my mother and father gave me.’"

McDonald concluded, "It occurred to me that her name would be a suitable one for Jesus."

Jesus is coming into our lives now to remove the anger, the frustration we feel with live. Jesus is coming, he is here now to take about our guilt, to forgive us, as we repent, as we turn away from our sins.

This concept of repentance or metanoia only occurs in this chapter and verse in the whole of Mark’s gospel. Mark wants to make the point that repentance is very important. It marks the stage for the coming of Jesus in our lives.

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