Summary: The character of both John and Jesus is one that compels us to give from our heart rather than from our excess. This is more than money, but a life of service.

To Whom It May Concern,

You will find that I did borrow the intro and another paragraph from other sermons at Sermon Central. Please feel free to use or modify this material in any way. Thanks. -John

Paonia United Methodist Church

Dec 14, 2003

Luke 3:7-18

It started out with all the makings of a very exciting day-

the day of our gospel story this morning.

Mark takes a little longer with the paintbrush setting the stage

than does Luke, so let’s start there…

John the Baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism

of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of

Jerusalem were going out to him (Mark 1:4-5).

Wow! There’s an image to make any preacher excited!

We can easily imagine the growing sense of anticipation as the crowd

got larger and larger- affirming everyone’s decision to be there:

and building, as a great crowd can do, a sense of expectation

and contagious excitement.

The stage is set… a hush falls across the crowd as the star,

the feature attraction of the day, moves to centre stage.

Every ear turns to catch his opening words...

He hesitates for a second, his eyes sweeping over the hordes of people,

trying to get a feel for the audience, his mind searching for just the right words to

rivet the crowd’s attention, words by which to create the “teachable

moment” in which important things may be conveyed with

powerful effect.

And then, came the sermon…

Luke 3

7John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ’We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 9The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire."

10"What should we do then?" the crowd asked.

11John answered, "The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same."

12Tax collectors also came to be baptized. "Teacher," they asked, "what should we do?"

13"Don’t collect any more than you are required to," he told

14them. Then some soldiers asked him, "And what should we do?"

He replied, "Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely--be content with your pay."

15The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Christ.[1] 16John answered them all, "I baptize you with[2] water. But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. 17His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire." 18And with many other words John exhorted the people and preached the good news to them. (NIV)

This is the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Well, Merry Christmas to you too John!

Now, tell me something, if it was the first time

You came to hear me preach, and I started my sermon that way,

How many of you would return?

Any of you?

I can’t imagine why they stuck around.

Can you not immediately sense the crowd recoiling,

reacting to these stinging words?

Eyes averting… arms crossing defensively… moms suddenly turning

away to fuss over their children-avoiding the message…

men squirming in their seats wondering who

this guy thinks he is…

And, here is the punchline…

this is supposed to be “good news!”

This is supposed to be how a preacher might effectively connect

with a crowd!

I think that John would have had trouble passing basic homiletics in seminary.

So, who was this guy anyway?

And why were people so interested in him?

And why, during the third week of Advent are we still

Hearing from this guy?

Well, I am glad you asked, because that is exactly what we are going to

Take a look at this morning.

In the desert around the Jordan River,

there lived a man who wanted people to change their lives.

John the Baptizer was that man, teaching the people to repent.

Remember, to repent means to turn around, to change direction in your life.

John was preparing the people for the coming of the Messiah.

The Bible describes how crowds of people would come out to see him –

he was such an unusual sight – a man living out in the desert,

dressed in a robe made out of camel’s hair, eating grasshoppers

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