Sermon for Advent 3 – 12.17.23

+ Advent 3 – December 17th, 2023 +

Series B: Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24; John 1:6-8, 19-28

Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church

Milton, WA

 

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

“All rise. The Superior Court of the Jordan River Valley is now in session. The honorable LORD, judge of heaven and earth presiding.”

 

“The priests and Levites of Jerusalem versus John the Baptist, aka the Voice.”

 

“Will the prosecuting attorney please call their first witness to the stand?”

“Yes, your honor.”

 

“We call John the Baptist to the stand.”

 

“Please stand. Place your left hand on the scroll. Raise your right hand. Do you promise that the testimony you shall give in the case before this court shall be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?”

 

“I do.”

 

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.

 

To get to Christmas and Jesus, we go through John. Notice that he never seeks the spotlight. He is not the light. He is a witness to the light. John is a mirror. Jesus is the Light. John is the moon. Jesus is the Sun. John is the index finger. Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. John is the voice. Jesus is the Word made flesh.

 

John confesses Jesus, not himself. That’s why John is always a bit of an enigma. And his appearance certainly doesn’t help. John the ultimate hipster was uncool before it was cool to be uncool; he wore only custom made camel-skin clothing, ate local, non-GMO, grass-fed, organic, range-free locusts, and fair trade, cage-free wild honey.

 

John’s strange look is accompanied by an even stranger message. Who does this guy think he is, telling us to prepare, repent, and make straight the way of the Lord?

 

“Who are you?” the Pharisees inquire. The wilderness becomes a courtroom. John is in the dock.

And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?”  He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.”

 

John is a witness. A witness has one job: tell the truth about the person or event to which they are testifying. John declares that Jesus is the Christ, the anointed one, the long-expected Savior. The wilderness is ripe with messianic expectation, even if those expectations are misplaced and the Messiah is misunderstood. So, John confesses: I am not the Christ.

 

What then? Are you Elijah?

 

Though Jesus later would teach us that John came in the spirit of Elijah, preparing the way of the Lord, John bears witness again: I am not.

Are you the prophet? Are you the prophet greater than even Moses, foretold in Deuteronomy 18?

No.

 

Who are you? We have TPS reports to fill out. Headquarters is waiting. We need to know. What do you say about yourself?

 

I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.”

 

That’s what John is. The voice. The messenger. John is a faithful witness. John prepares the way of the Lord. The Lord whom Isaiah said would be born of a Virgin and the root of Jesse. The Lord who is the righteous branch of David’s family tree and the Suffering Servant. The Lord who will preach good news, heal, and set the captives free. For John, the defense never rests. To the very moment his head is on a platter he’s pointing people to Christ. Even in death he is a faithful witness to Christ.

 

John comes to us this Advent as he came that first Advent. In the wilderness, a dark place without Christ our light. That’s where John begins our advent preparation, in the wilderness…in the darkness. John calls us to confess with him. Confess that we are captive to sin and imprisoned by death. Confess that we have not honored the Lord’s name as we should, that our worship and prayers have faltered, that our love for God and others has failed, that our thoughts and desires are soiled with sin. Confess that we love to deny who we are as God’s baptized children. John calls us to confess and repent…and rejoice. For your Light is coming.

 

John’s witness to Jesus prepares us to witness His advent.

 

So, John draws us out into the wilderness where your only life is where there is water. Jesus makes his way straight through the font to you. Your Baptism is Jesus’ advent. Your Holy Baptism is also Jesus’ witness to you. Your Baptism testifies that you are buried and raised with Jesus. Your life is hidden with Christ in water, and His word: You are forgiven.

 

Christ the Light shines in your Baptism. The darkness of sin is banished and washed away by Jesus. No camels’ hair clothing for you. No, you’re clothed with the garments of salvation. Robed in Christ’s righteousness. Adorned as his pure, holy, and spotless bride.

 

John’s confession is also our confession. Who are you? Are you a child of Adam left to die in the wilderness?

No. I am baptized into Christ. Are you a voice crying out alone in the darkness of death?

No, I am baptized into Christ. What do you say about yourself? I am baptized into Christ.

 

In this life, the church is like John. We are witnesses to the Light. We confess Christ, not ourselves.

 

We are witnesses. We point to Jesus. We witness to Jesus when we support our preschool and care for one another with the love of Christ. We witness to Christ when we visit our friends, families, and members when they are in need. We witness to Jesus when we invite our friends and neighbors to church and bible study. We witness to Jesus when we share the witness of John in the lives of others: Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, for you.

 

And like John, the defense never rests. Confession is how we live in Advent. We confess the Creed. We confess and receive the Sacrament. We confess our faith as we sing. We seek to teach his word faithfully; to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. For we do not know when the court will adjourn.

 

But we do know the verdict. For you have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous one. Jesus intercedes for you. Jesus is your mediator.

 

Satan may be our accuser, but all of his evidence – and let’s face it, there’s plenty against us – it’s all thrown out of court. Christ the judge declares all of it inadmissible. Satan can accuse you no more. In Christ there is no condemnation. For the blood of Jesus covers all your sins. Jesus denies himself, and takes up your cross. Christ your judge steps down from his chair and takes your place. He allows the gavel to fall on himself instead of you. Christ the judge becomes your advocate. The innocent for the guilty so that the guilty would be made innocent. Jesus assumes the punishment for all your offenses.

 

And yet He lives for you. Case closed. Court adjourned. You are free in Jesus. Rejoice! Go your way and bear witness to the Light.

 

 

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Beautiful Savior

is a traditional Lutheran Church, faithful to God's Word and His Sacraments. We equip God's people to serve, love, and encourage one another as we grow in our personal relationship with Christ. We reach out to the community as beacons of light, sharing the love of God in Christ Jesus, our Savior.

Church Office Hours

Monday - Thursday 8:30am-3:30pm

Friday 8:30am-11:30am

The office is closed on Fridays during the summer months of June, July, and August.

Preschool Office Hours

August - May
Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday
8:30am-12:30pm

By appointment only June and July

Contact

Address
2306 Milton Way
Milton, WA 98354
Phone
(253) 922-6977
Fax
(253) 922-6977