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Summary: Third Sunday in Advent

Third Sunday in Advent Sermon

Matthew 11:2-11

"What Do You Hear and See"?

2* Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples

3* and said to him, "Are you he who is to come, or shall we look for another?"

4 And Jesus answered them, "Go and tell John what you hear and see:

5* 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.

6* And blessed is he who takes no offense at me."

7* ¶ 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?

8 Why then did you go out? To see a man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, those who wear soft raiment are in kings’ houses.

9* Why then did you go out? To see a prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet.

10* This is he of whom it is written, ’Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, who shall prepare thy way before thee.’

11* 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. (RSV)

A pastor tells the following story:" I served a rural Indiana church as a student. In reading the minutes of the. church council some years ago, I came across the following: Elder Smith recommends we hire Mr. Johnson as our student minister. He has a background in music and a history of outstanding youth work. Music and youth are two areas of church life where we need improvement. Eighteen months later there was another entry: Elder Jones made the motion that we fire Mr. Johnson, our student minister. The man spends too much time working with the kids in the church and it seems all we do is sing during the worship service. We need more preaching and someone to work with the older people."

Mr. Johnson didn’t know what to expect from his church council. He tried to please them in one area, and they changed their expectations of him. John had the same problems with Jesus. John had preached that the Messiah was coming, he told the people to repent, to change their ways, or they would go to hell. But, then Jesus comes and his preaching is one of compassion, one of love, and John doesn’t know what to expect. SO, he tells his disciples to go to Jesus and ask Jesus if he is the one, if he is the Messiah, if he is the one who is coming, or should we look for another?

John had doubts about who Jesus was. Are you the one? He wasn’t sure Jesus was the one. He wanted to check it out. As he sat in jail, he struggled with what he had heard about Jesus. He questioned, he had doubts, he wondered.

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?

What Child is this who lay to rest on Mary’s lap sleeping? What child?

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?’

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