2nd Sunday of Advent – Sermon 325
- 2nd Sunday of Advent
- 6.30pm Wholeness and Healing
- 15th December 2019
Prayer to start
May the words of my lips and the thoughts of our hearts be graciously received for the Glory and Honour of our Lord Jesus Christ
“If I testify on my own behalf that testimony is not valid ……. I seek to do not my own will, but the will of Him who sent me”
words from the opening verses of our Gospel reading – and Jesus’ response to accusations from the Jews – about His actions on the Sabbath –
In chapter 5 of John’s Gospel Jesus makes some amazing claims about Himself – He says He is the “Son of God” – the “One sent by the Father” – the “source of all life” – the “judge of the world” – the “raiser of the dead” – the one who will one day empty all the cemeteries of the earth –
People listened in amazement – and the Jews in disbelief – Who is this man? – How could He make such claims? – Where is the proof that Jesus is who He says He is?
In our Gospel reading Jesus answers His critics by calling up a number of witnesses that testify for Him.
First Point John the Baptist
The first is John the Baptist – who announced Jesus as the long-expected and long-awaited Messiah – the one whom the prophets such as Isaiah wrote about
John even quoted the words of Isaiah about Himself – “I am a voice crying in the wilderness, make straight the way for the Lord” – (John 1:23)
At Jesus’ baptism – John announces Jesus as that coming Lord – “the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” – (John 1:29)
– the innocent substitute who will take our place and take our sins upon Himself – freeing God’s love – so we can establish a new relationship with God through Jesus –
John also declares Jesus to be the “One who is to Baptize with the Holy Spirit” (John 1:33) – who – as Isaiah puts it – will “pour down rain on a thirsty land” – living water that will satisfy our thirst for life and for truth –
John also declares Jesus to be “Gods chosen One” (John 1:34)- the word made flesh – none other than God Himself and Lord of heaven and earth –
In our Gospel Jesus tells us that all John has said about Him – is true –
“You sent messengers to John and he has testified to the truth”
Jesus too reminds them that – John was not sent for His sake – but for theirs – to bring them to Him –
He describes John as a “brightly burning lamp” –
Some lamps shine dimly – some not at all – because the light in them is low – and they are barely seen – but John’s light is for all to see –
A lamp that shows the light – but is not the light itself –
Jesus is the light – when we welcome Jesus into our hearts – we too will be able to shine brightly and bring people to Jesus –
But not everyone who sees the light – will be attracted – the Jews were attracted for a while –
But never really took John seriously – he was listened to when he said things they liked – but when his words became uncomfortable – they went away –
John was a pointer and a prophet – he was also the first witness and believer in Jesus as the Son of God – a light that testifies to the true light – who came after him in time but existed before him in eternity –
Point 2 The Father who sent me
Then Jesus cites another witness
“But I rely on testimony higher than John’s – the work my father has given me to do and to finish …. the very hard work I have in hand”
Here Jesus is talking about God’s presence and actions in the world – through Him – The invisible witness of God in the many miracles and works that Jesus performs on His behalf –
Jesus had just healed the crippled man at the pool of Bethesda – the people had seen this man rise out of weakness and paralysis and start walking again – they had heard that He casts out demons –controls violent storms with a command – teaches – on almost every area of life and death – in a way that penetrated – and provoked
All this says Jesus – is not from Him but from God – in fulfillment of God’s promise to rescue His people from themselves –
From the very beginning God has set out a plan of love – to bring us to salvation – to re-establish the broken relationship caused by sin – caused by generations of selfish stealing and lying – hatred and violence – wars and famine – crying and frustration – to re-establish the emptiness that we feel inside because of our inadequacies – and our failures to live up to His expectations –
Jesus tells us that the promises made by God have all come true – through Him – God’s plan for the redemption and salvation of mankind – is complete in Jesus Christ
Jesus has been sent as witness to God’s love – to show us that He understands and cares about our individual needs and difficulties – to experience our way of life – and to die on the cross – so that our sins can be forgiven – and we can be brought back to Him –
But says Jesus there are those who will not listen – despite their understanding and knowledge of God
Point 3 Bible
And so we come to our third witness – the Bible –
The most widely distributed – life giving book – ever written – the word of God expressed – through His relationship with men and women over the last 5000 years –
The Jews were students of scripture – spent their whole lives counting the words – memorizing large sections of it – because they thought that knowledge of it was sufficient to bring salvation –
But Jesus tells them that – they had lost the plot – knowing the words is not enough – they’d failed to apply them to their own lives – they’d failed to recognize God’s presence with them –
Jesus tells them that all the scriptures point to Him – even the writings of Moses himself – on which the Jews set all their hopes and confidence –
There are 322 different prophesies about Jesus in the OT – they predict His birthplace – His birth – His mission – His death – and they all fit together like a smooth fitting lock –
Mathematical prediction – suggests the chance of these prophecies being fulfilled in one man is 1 in 10 to the power 84 – that’s a lot of jackpot wins on the lottery –
But the Jews rejected Him – not out of ignorance – but because of pride – their standing in society came before their standing before God –
and today we do the same – we believe that Jesus is who He says He is – yet we do not come to Him – we put our own concerns before His – close our minds to His calls for help and support –
We have each been planted as a seed of the highest quality – created in the very image of God – and created by God.
As we grow and take root in the world around us and experience life in all its variety – God looks to us to produce fruit of the highest quality.
Fruit that will resemble our Creator, fruit that Christ not only expects from us – but has taught us – fruit that the Holy Spirit is willing to bestow upon us – love, joy peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal 5:22).
In our OT reading from Isaiah God looked at the Israelites – and was burdened by their waywardness and unfaithfulness –
He saw injustice – the rich getting richer and the poor becoming poorer – Righteousness had lost its meaning – People rejoiced in strong drinks – There was music and celebrations – but without God.
Deceitfulness and wickedness raised their ugly heads. Evil was considered good and good evil. Justice was denied to the innocent. Bribe won the race. People were wise – in their own eyes.
We have a picture of people who have plunged into the river of wickedness headfirst.
but there is a way out – through Jesus – like the people of Isaiah’s time – we too need to recognize that things can change – that God can do something new in us – through Jesus Christ – that we can make a difference – and shine brightly for Him – like John –
Conclusions So where does all this leave us?
There is no denying the importance of Jesus in the history of the world and in the life of millions of people today – He has walked through the last 2000 years of changing empires, governments, political systems and philosophies – and has remained a dominant and challenging presence – with us
In our Gospel reading Jesus puts Himself on trial -and gives us the opportunity to decide – whether we are for Him – or against Him –
Jesus claims to be – on an equal footing with God – to have the authority to forgive sins – to heal and cleanse us – and bring us to salvation –
But the vital issue – is not only what we think or believe about Jesus – but what we do about it –
whether to accept His claims – and follow Him – or walk away – and welcome His presence within us – what will you do?