Advent 2
December 10, 2000
Luke 3:4-6
"The Prophet John - a good dose of reality"

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"The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill shall be brought low and the crocked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth; and the rough ways shall be made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God."

Introduction: As we prepare for Christmas we need to be ready.  How do we make ourselves ready to receive Jesus as our Savior and Lord?  We can do that by receiving the message of John for without John there can not be the true Jesus. The Father sent John to prepare people for the acceptance of Jesus Christ. If there is no sense of sin, can there be a need for a Savior?  If there is no repentance there can be no forgiveness. If there is no death to self, there can be no new life. Because John is the only prophet who prepares for the Savior's coming Jesus calls him the greatest of all of the prophets. Let's see how John can give us a good dose of reality.

1.         To make us aware of sin.  Who are we?  Are be born into this world basically good? Is there some quality of worth in each of us?  Just quick glances of the Scriptures will tell us that we are far from perfect. The Scriptures remind us "the soul that sins, it shall die" "There is not a man upon this earth that does good and does not sin"  "In sin my mother conceived me, in sin my mother bore me"  Over and over again, the Scriptures tell us that we are blind, dead, and an enemy of God"

But even more damning and even more discouraging is the sin that we commit by our thoughts, words and deeds.  It is one thing to say that we are born in sin. It is quite another to say that we have committed sin. Again the Scriptures are quite clear in spelling out to us that we are all guilty of sin. "If we say that we are without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us" the Bible tells us.  Our lives spell it out. We live as if God does not matter but that we matter most. The Lord's name, we have not honored as we should, our worship and prayers have faltered. We have not let His love has its way with us, and so our love for others has failed. There are those whom we have hurt, and those whom we have failed to help. Even our thoughts and desires have been soiled with sin. In a nutshell we are all sinners.

Transition:  Being convicted of sin should lead us to repentance. But how do we do that? We cry out to God asking for His mercy and compassion.

2.         John was sent by God to lead us to repentance. With the psalmist we pray: "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from Your presence, and take not Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me with Your free spirit" (Psalm 51:10-12) 

This was the reason for John to come just prior to Jesus. He came to turn our hearts away from ourselves to turn to Christ to receive His mercy and grace. We come repenting of our sin, and turning to Christ who is able to restore and redeem us. We see and feel our sin; our conscience convicts us of our wrong. The Word shows us where we have gone wrong.  This leads us to repent and to turn to Christ our Savior who came to save us. 

John stands as a true prophet to guide us to Jesus for forgiveness. John simply said, "Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world" Who is this lamb?

"This lamb is Christ, the soul's great Friend, The Lamb of God, our Savior; Him God the Father chose to send To gain for us His favor. "Go forth, My Son," the Father said, "And free men from the fear of death, From guilt and condemnation. The wrath and stripes are hard to bear, But by Thy Passion men shall share The fruit of Thy salvation."  {"A Lamb Goes Uncomplaining Forth" TLH Hymn 142; stanza 2}

That's what Christmas is all about. Jesus came to earth to take unto Himself our flesh. He came to be our substitute. He came to suffer and die for the sins of the world. He came offer us forgiveness and life. That is why we can say that in Jesus Christ, all sin is forgiven - period!

Conclusion:  Are you ready for Christmas?  If you see your sin, repent, and turn to Christ for life you are ready. Lord, by your Advent may we be, fit and ready to worship Thee.  In Jesus Name. Amen.