Monday, December 23, 2013

Sermon for 12/22/13--Fourth Sunday in Advent


The Same Old Message

Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Amen. 

You can't sidetrack John the Baptist. His job is to people to Jesus, and that’s all he does. He sounds almost other-worldly: camel-hair and locusts and living in the wilderness. But when they realize he's not some rock star mystic out there by the Jordan, the people lose interest. The Old Adam loves to play the personality game: we like this pastor; we think this pastor has the goods. This preacher makes us feel good. But all this guy talks about is Jesus. Boring! A preacher whose message is a constant flow of Jesus and His gifts will eventually lose the interest of his hearers. The most popular preachers in our age are those who preach messages about prosperity and hope, messages where Jesus is a mere footnote. If Jesus is all there is week in and week out, the Old Adam will move on to something he finds more interesting.
That's how the world works. We want the next model, the newest version. And we view religion the same way. What’s new? What’s exciting? What’s different? But John preaches that the Jesus he is talking about, the one who comes after John, is the same one who has been before John. This is Jesus the Savior. He was before John and He comes after John. He was before you and He will come after you. You can't go anywhere where there is no Jesus. You won’t find some new and improved version of Jesus that wasn't there before. The Jesus who shows up is the Lamb of God, the One who never changes even though we desire something new and flashy. And it is this Jesus who saves us: the Lamb who was sacrificed for you. The good news of the coming Savior is that He comes to do what He does whether you think it's interesting or flashy or anything else. He is the One who hung on the cross, the One who rose, the One who suffers and dies for the sin of the world. If that’s not exciting enough for you, you’re out of luck, because that’s the only message John, the disciples, and your pastor are called to preach.

While the Old Adam hates this broken record Jesus stuff, the New Man clings to nothing else. Jesus every week? Anytime pastor opens his mouth, it's about Jesus? Thanks be to God! What or who else is there to forgive our sins and give us everlasting life? And what about all this talk about Baptism and The Lord's Supper? Well, that's all about Jesus too. The New Man cries out, “Never mind anything else, just give me Jesus! Mark me with the sign of the cross to remind me I'm baptized into Him. Give me His body and blood to eat and drink for the forgiveness of my sins. Absolve me and preach to me the Good News that there IS someone who is before and after me, whose sandals we aren't even worthy to untie but who humbles Himself to suffer and die and rise for me! Give me that Jesus always,” says the new man in Christ! And that’s exactly what you receive. Jesus is all yours. That's why He came: to save you, to give you everlasting life. That's why you hear about nothing else but Him from this pulpit.

John had one job: to point to Jesus. That is the same job your pastor has. The Lord doesn't leave you to yourselves to find Him or seek Him out. He comes to you. He never wants you to be confused or in doubt about what it's all about, so He sends the prophets and then John, the apostles, and then pastors to deliver to you the Word which saves you because it delivers nothing other than Jesus. The way is ready. You have been forgiven. The paths are straight. Jesus is coming. He will be in manger for you, on a cross for you, coming out of an empty tomb for you, and for you at the font and the altar. He is the Christ, and He is coming—indeed, He is here to save you. In the name of the Father and of the Son (†) and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always.  Amen.

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