Summary: A sermon for the 3rd Sunday in Advent
3rd Sunday in Advent
"What child is this?"
"Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, "Are you he who is to come, or shall we look for another?" And Jesus answered them, "Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is he who takes no offense at me." As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: "What did you go out into the wilderness to behold? A reed shaken by the wind? Why then did you go out? To see a man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, those who wear soft raiment are in kings’ houses. Why then did you go out? To see a prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is he of whom it is written, ’Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, who shall prepare thy way before thee.’ Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has risen no one greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he." Matthew 11:2-11, RSV.
Grace and peace to you from our Lord and Savoiur, Jesus who is the Christ child. Amen
Our gospel lesson this morning sees John the Baptist in prison and he was wondering if Jesus was indeed the Messiah. So he sent some of his disciples to ask Jesus if he was the one.
Jesus does not say yes or no, to that question but tells the disciples of John to tell John what you have seen and heard. And what did they see and hear. The lame can walk the blind had received their sight,. Leper had been healed and the dead have been raised up.
Jesus told John’s disciples to go back and tell John what has been happening and then John could figure out for himself that Jesus was indeed the Messiah.
John was probably having a difficult time understanding who Jesus was.
He might be thinking, "Lord, where did I go wrong? I did what I thought you wanted. I said what I thought you wanted me to say. You told me that Messiah was coming. But where is he? Where’s the fire, the ax, the judgment he’s supposed to bring? And why, if he’s here, would he let me stay in this place? I’ve heard rumors about this one called Jesus. I thought I knew my cousin pretty well. I remember that day in the Jordan when I baptized him. What a glorious day. I knew it was all beginning then. God’s whole plan was being put into play. But, where is he now? Why isn’t he doing what I said he would do? Is he really the one or should I look for another?
John waned to know why Jesus did not come with a fire instead of love. He wanted Jesus to bring judgment upon the people, but instead he brought love and forgiveness. This was not what John thought the one would do. He thought the one would come with fire and brimstone. but Jesus came with love and understanding. Jesus came with forgiveness.
Jesus then pays his respects to John by saying : Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has risen no one greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
He tells the crowd that John indeed someone who should be respected for the message that he brought. John’s message was right for that time, but Jesus’ message of love and forgiveness is the main message that God wanted to come to this earth.
And today, which message do we listen to when we see the child come at Christmas? Do we see judgment or do we see love?
What child do we see on Mary’s lap sleeping as that song says. What child, the child of judgment or the child of love. The child who can answer all our questions of faith, or the child that leaves some of those questions unanswered.
Wondering, having doubts, is that okay? Do we shy away from these questions of doubts ? As Christians do we say doubts, questions of faith are wrong?
Paul Tillich points out that God does not stand aloof, apart from our questioning; rather God is in the struggle of doubt, making himself known through it. Doubt therefore is a vital part and element of the faith which justifies.
In the book, "A sign in the straw" Pastor Richard Hoefler asks, "Who of us have not cried out with John, ’Are you the Christ, or shall we look for another’? When life gets tough and we see innocent people suffer. The bad so often succeed while the good fail. When we face a world locked in the death grip of one meaningless war after another; when we witness the destruction of nature as greed and desire for comforts drain the earth of her natural resources; when we choke on pollution and stumble over wrecked lives of people struck down by drugs and alcoholism; who can help but cry out, ’If you are the Messiah, why this? Must we, shall we, look for another?’