The Fourth Sunday of Advent 2015

Bible Text: John 1:19-28 | Preacher: Rev. Mark Buetow | Series: 2015

Strange dude baptizing in the wilderness. “Hey! Are you the…” “No! I am NOT the Christ.” “Well are you Elijah?” “No.” “Ah, so you’re the Prophet with a capital ‘P’?” “Wrong again.” “Well, look, all the big wigs sent us out here to check you out. So what do you have to say for yourself?” “I’m a just a voice. A voice that declares the Lord is coming and to make ready his way. That’s it. Just a voice.” “Well then who do you think you are, baptizing and preaching?” “Because the One who comes after me is before me and I’m not even worthy to untie his sandals.” And that’s why John is baptizing. And preaching. Because the Lord sent him out there to prepare the way. When the President of the United States travels, the Secret Service heads out first to check everything out and make everything ready. When there’s a parade in town, the police and city have to go along the route and put up the barriers and get everything ready. So it is with Jesus. Before He arrives, a preacher comes to get everyone’s attention and point them to the coming Savior. And in this ministry of John, we see how the Lord sets up the ministry from then on out. The preacher is sent to prepare you for Christ’s arrival. Advent prepares you for Christmas.

John prepared people for Jesus showing up by reminding them of the prophecy of Isaiah: A voice crying in the wilderness. John pointed Jesus out when He appeared: “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” John preached a baptism of repentance and the forgiveness of sins. Sinners got down into the water and had their sins washed away. It was a clear message about what this Savior was coming to do. And then, like when its morning and the garage lights go out, so John fades away when Jesus comes. And Jesus goes about doing His Savior stuff. Healing. Raising the dead. Suffering. Dying on the cross. Being laid in the tomb. Rising from the dead. This is what John’s dad told him he would do: Prepare the way of the Lord and give knoweldge of salvation to people by the forgiveness of their sins. John says, “I’m just a voice. Here’s what I’m crying out: prepare the way of the Lord! Sinners, have your sins washed away. Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! There He is! Repent and believe in Him!” And so that’s all John does: He points to Jesus and then he’s done. And it’s Jesus’ time to do His work of redeeming the world.

So it is today. The Lord still does things the same way. He sends preachers to make ready His way. He sends preachers to prep the people for Jesus showing up. Preachers to baptize in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Preachers to absolve sinners in the stead of Jesus. Preachers to proclaim the Lamb of God is on His way. Preachers to prepare the Lord’s Way at His altar, speaking Jesus’ words by which He comes to us in His body and blood. Who am I? I’m not Jesus. I’m not Elijah or the Prophet either. I’m just a voice. A voice through which the Lord says, “Repent of your sins. Turn from your wickedness. Stop doing the things that prove you pay no attention to God and don’t love your neighbor. And hear and believe that Jesus has put away your sins.” Hear the voice say, “You are washed. You are forgiven. You are taught. You are fed. You are the Lord’s. You have a heavenly Father. You have a Savior in Jesus. You have the comfort of the Spirit. You have the hope of eternal life.” You see, your preacher is also sent by the Lord to prepare you for His final coming. He’s going to be here. He’s going to show up. On the clouds of heaven in all His glory with the holy angels. And how shall you meet Him? You’ll be ready. John points to Him. Your preacher points to Him. All eyes on Jesus who is born in the flesh, nailed to the cross, risen from the dead, ascended into heaven, here at the font, there on the altar, and soon visible in the sky to save us once and for all. The Lord sends a voice. The voice proclaims Jesus. And now you’re ready. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.