121209 Luke 3:1-6

Last Updated on Monday, 10 December 2012 Written by Pastor Schmidt

Sermon Text: Luke 3:1 – 6
Sermon Theme: "Listen to the Messenger of Advent"

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar—when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene—during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the desert. He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. As is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet: "A voice of one calling in the desert, 'Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him. Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth. And all mankind will see God's salvation.' "

What are some of the names from the Bible that come to mind at this time of year? In his class between our Sunday Services right now, Pastor Pagels is leading a Bible study on Zachariah and Elizabeth; Mary and Joseph; and the Shepherds whom the angels appeared to on the night that Jesus was born. One of the key figures of the Advent Season is John the Baptist. During our sermons for the next two weeks, we will take a closer look at the ministry and message of this Advent Messenger. So today, as we take a closer look at the Gospel Lesson for this weekend from Luke chapter 3, we hear the encouragement to LISTEN TO THE MESSENGER OF ADVENT.

You know as well as I do, that there are many doubters of the Bible. They deny the Bible's teachings such as God creating the world in six days; or that Jesus, God's one and only Son, came to this earth, and that as true God and true Man he won forgiveness of all sins. The Holy Spirit knew that there would be people who would not believe that a messenger by the name of John the Baptist was born to prepare the way for Jesus' coming as the Promised Messiah. So he led the Gospel writer Luke to give us a great amount of detail of who the political and religious leaders were when John's ministry began.

What other names come to mind for you when you think of messengers of the Lord? Perhaps we think of Moses or one the Old Testament prophets such as Isaiah or Jeremiah or maybe Malachi, whom we heard from in our Old Testament Lesson for today. Maybe you thought of Jonah, who at first didn't want to be the Lord's messenger, but then later did go and proclaim a message from the Lord to the people living in Nineveh. As we think of messengers of God's Word found in the New Testament maybe we think of the Lord's Apostles, such as Paul or Peter or one of the Gospel writers or others who were messengers sent by the Lord to proclaim his Word. Today, the Lord wants to use you and me as his messengers. But, rather than being willing messengers of the Lord, you and I will confess that too easily we are guilty of acting like Jonah. We try to run away from the Lord and his Word so we don't have to be his messenger. Maybe we are afraid of being made fun of by our friends. We give in to the thinking that it is someone else's job to share God's Word with people or that it's not worth the time and effort.

But, the Good News for you and me is that refusing to be a messenger of the Lord is a sin that Jesus Christ came to suffer and die for, just as he did for all the sins of the whole world. Pray that the Lord would forgive you for those times when you refused to be his messenger or gave into peer pressure and failed to be his messenger. As you humbly confess this and all your sins, let the Good News of the forgiveness of all of your sins fill your heart with peace and comfort. Ask the Holy Spirit to make you eager to share his Word with others. Because of Jesus, God the Holy Spirit empowers you and me with a willingness to go out and share the message of Advent: the message of his first coming and his birth to be our Savior; the message that Jesus is coming again as the King of kings and Lord of lords. My dear fellow messengers of God's Word: Listen to the messenger of Advent! Give thanks that you, like John the Baptist, have been entrusted to serve as a messenger of our Savior-God.

As you and I take time to listen to the messenger of the Advent season, and by the power of God's Word, you and I are filled with a desire to be messengers ourselves, the Lord uses you and me as his messengers to speak his word of comfort.

In his sermon next week, Pastor Pagels will share more with us on the message of John the Baptist. Here at the beginning of Luke chapter 3 we are told that as the Lord's messenger, John the Baptist, spoke a message of comfort to the people of his day. We are told that John "went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins." This was a direct fulfillment of what the Lord's messenger Isaiah wrote some 700 years earlier when he was led by God the Holy Spirit to describe John as "'A voice of one calling in the desert, 'Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him. Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth. And all mankind will see God's salvation.'" Rather than eternal punishment for sins, the promised Messiah would come as the world's one and only Savior. What words of comfort for John himself to hear! What words of comfort he was able to share with others!

What words of comfort for you and me to hear today as we listen to the messenger of Advent! What comfort is yours and mine knowing that "every valley" in our lives, that is every short-coming, every sin, has been filled in by the blood of Jesus. What comfort is ours that the mountain pile of your sins and mine has been leveled by the perfect sacrifice of God's one and only Son! What comfort is yours and mine knowing that because of Jesus all of our crooked, wicked ways are all forgiven as we come before the throne of our Savior-God in humble repentance. What comfort is ours as we open the pages of the Bible and in Jesus Christ you and I "see God's salvation" with our own eyes. As one author has written, "Every sinner longs for the announcement that he or she is free from the bondage of sin and death. Because Jesus has come, we are released from death. We are no longer slaves to sin. We are no longer locked in the dungeon of eternal death because of God's wrath and anticipating an eternity of punishment in hell...this is not because we have achieved release by our own efforts or because we have done our time and satisfied the Law. Our bondage is over because our loving Father in heaven achieved our release through his Son, the promised Savior." Through our Savior, Jesus Christ, the comfort you and I have to enjoy is the forgiveness of all of our sins and the promise of eternal life at his side in heaven. As we listen to the messenger of Advent, what words of comfort for you and me to hear for ourselves! What words of comfort you and I are able to share with others!

In just a few short weeks, we will celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Leading up to the celebration of our Savior's birth, we enjoy hearing and singing the songs and hymns of Christmas. But, during these days before Christmas, may all of us set aside time to listen to the messenger of Advent. As you listen for yourself to the message of John the Baptist, as you are filled with joy because of your own forgiveness and the promise of eternal life in heaven, remember that the message of Advent is spoken by you. You are one of the Lord's messengers. Ask for the Lord's blessings as you share his Word. Be a willing messenger of the Lord as you offer a message of comfort to others; comfort that can only come through our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

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Compelled by the love of Christ, St. Matthew’s Evangelical Lutheran Church and School seek to reach out to our families, community and world, using Law and Gospel to make disciples, growing and nurturing them in their Christian faith and life.

 

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