Summary: A sermon from Mark 1:1-8 for the Christmas season (Outline and some material adapted from Sermon Central’s John Hamby at: http://www.sermoncentral.com/sermons/preparation-for-christmas-john-hamby-sermon-on-christmas-64230.asp)
Do we have any travel plans during the Christmas holidays? Do any of us visit out of town family and friends? We did when I was a teenager.
Some of my fondest childhood memories of the Christmas holidays were times when we went to visit my grandparents in northern Indiana. I don’t know how many times we made that trip to my grandparent’s house, but there was always some part of I-69 that was being repaired. There were signs that said something like this. Show sign from Michael.
I always thought to myself, “What a nice highway this will be when it is finished and there is no more construction.” That was many years ago and I have traveled it a few times since then and nothing has changed. They are still working on it! By the time they finish working on one part of the highway, there is another place that needs to be repaired. They will never fishin working on it.
Those trips to my grandparent’s house remind me of the story of the first Christmas. No, I’m not talking about the baby Jesus, I’m talking about John. The Bible tells us that God sent a man named John to prepare the way for the coming of Jesus. John told the people to make a highway int he desert for their God. HE told them to make the crooked ways straight and to make the rough places smooth. John wasn’t really talking about building a highway upon which cars could travel. He was really talking about the hearts of the people. He was calling people to prepare their hearts to receive Jesus so that He could walk among them and minister with them.
(From Sermons 4 Kids at: http://www.sermons4kids.com/prepare_way.htm)
This Scripture is an unusal choice to begin advent or Christmas season. Matthew and Luke contain stories of birth of Jesus. John tells the story of Christ in a more philosophocial way. Lord willing we will look at John’s account of the birth of Christ more over the next couple of weeks. Look at Matthew and Luke’s accounts closer to Christmas day.
Even though Mark doesn’t give us an account of the birth of Christ, he essentially wraps up the Christmas message in just a few words. The opening line of Mark is “the beginning of the Gospel”- “Gospel” translated means literally “good news.” What is this good news? He doesn’t even begin with Jesus but with John the Baptist.
Thesis: Note 3 things about John as we prepare for Christmas
For instances: 1. John was an unusual messenger
I get the impression that John who was the cousin of JEsus was a little different. Probably have some people in our families that could be classified as a little different. There are just some people if we invited them to a social function we would feel a little uncomfortable to have them around. John was like that. John was a man of the desert, he ate the food of the desert and he wore the clothing of the desert.
“If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear expensive clothes and indulge in luxury are in palaces. But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet.” Luke 7:25, 26, NIV.
John had a ministry similar to Elijah. “And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, ...to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” Luke 1:17, NIV.
In the OT Elijah was often popping on the scene and causing a ruckus.
John had an unexpected message
Mark states that John fulfilled the prophecies of Malachi and Isaiah.
Telling the people to get ready for the Messiah. Preaching repentance and confession of sins.
In our love of the celebration of the birth of Jesus I think we sometimes get lost. WE love to prepare for Christ because it’s like preparing for a baby to be born. We get so wrapped up in the manger scene that we forget that He is not a baby anymore! We think that somehow He is satisfied to see us make our annunal appearance at Christmas and sing a few Christmas carols. How many times do we hear about repentance and confession of sins around Christmas?
Repentance means a change of mind. “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” 2 Corinthians 7:10, NIV.
Two kinds of repentance are possible in us.
Worldly sorrow- A feeling induced by the fear of getting caught. Many people recognize the unpleasant consequences of their sin and are persuaded that they are guilty. This results in superficial sorrow that may lead to a temporary reformation but not a genuine turning to Christ for forgiveness. If they knew they would not get caught, as long as they got away with it they would never repent or reform. No fear of God. “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge.” Psalms 51:4, NIV.