Sermon 15th December 2019 – 3rd Sunday in Advent
Text: Matthew 11:2-11 – Jesus is the one we are waiting for;
In the lead up to an election we hear lots of promises about what this leader will do for us if we elect them.
And more often than not when the elected party forms Government we will hear reasons why they can’t immediately fulfil their promises.
One previous Prime Minister from some years ago made a distinction between promises and core promises to explain why some things were not achieved that were promised.
In our Gospel reading today we see again John the Baptist – a very different John the Baptist from last week.
Remember last week with his brazen tongue calling the religious leaders a brood of vipers?
He was filled with courage because he was preparing the way for the one who would come with fire – the one so important that John wasn’t even able to carry his sandals.
John was so confident of having Jesus in his corner that he dared to condemn Herod because Herod married his own brother’s wife.
Unfortunately for John he spoke harshly to the wrong person and ended up in prison.
And now John is starting to wonder about this Jesus fellow whom he thought was the Messiah and who had his back.
From his prison he sends some of his disciples to get some clarification –
He sent word by his disciples and said to Jesus, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?
Why would John ask that?
He was so confident – this is the one I was telling you about.
This is the one – and because he is the one – I must decrease so that he can increase.
What made John begin to wonder if Jesus was in fact “the one”?
It’s because John had based his understanding of Jesus on his own predicament rather that what Jesus had promised to do.
He missed the core promise of Jesus even though he knew what that core promise was.
John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
That’s it – that’s the core promise of Jesus and continues to be the core promise – the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
The angel revealed that to Joseph when he was instructed what to name him - Mary will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
John missed that because he was judging Jesus on his own predicament.
The people missed that because they had in their mind what the Messiah promised by God would look like – and Jesus looked nothing like that.
Born in a barn – in a feeding trough – not in a palace
Born to an unwed, unfaithful mother – not to a Queen.
Eating with sinners – not the elite.
Consorting with questionable women – not condemning them
Riding into town on a donkey – not a royal chariot.
No wonder they cried out – away with him – crucify him – we don’t want him as our king.
We want Caesar as our King- he might not treat us nicely but at least he LOOKS like a King.
Jesus didn’t seem to be fulfilling “their” promises.
And therein lies the problem.
They had perceived what this Messiah would do.
And when he didn’t do what they expected him to do – like John the Baptist – they began to doubt Jesus and began to expect someone else.
What is Jesus promise to you?
What do you believe Jesus has promised you – these can be 2 very different things.
In your Baptism Jesus made specific promises.
Firstly he promised – I am with you always till the end of the age.
He also promised – whoever believes and is baptised will be saved.
Very specific – very definite – I AM with you - you WILL be saved.
Things Jesus didn’t promise that we sometimes presume are –
If you believe in me everything in this life is going to be rosy.
If you believe in me you will never get sick – and if you do and have enough faith you will be healed.
If you believe in me you will be successful financially.
If you believe in me your family will never go through any difficult times.
Jesus promises are not about this life but about the life to come in heaven.
And that’s why John the Baptist declared Jesus to be – the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
In Holy Communion Jesus makes specific promises to you:
This IS my body given FOR you.
This IS my blood given FOR you for THE FORGIVENESS OF YOUR SINS.
The entire promise of Jesus is eternal life in heaven.
For God so loved the world that he sent his one and only son so that whoever believed in him will NOT perish but have ETERNAL LIFE.
It is like a legal contract that binds God to his promise.
And anything outside of that is hearsay and inadmissible.
So when John asks – should we seek someone else – the answer is NO.
Because no one else can fulfil the promise made by Jesus.
No one comes to the Father EXCEPT THROUGH ME.
It is sad when we see what some people go through in life.
But it is even sadder when we see a person abandon their faith in God because somewhere they have heard that a loving God would not allow us to suffer.
Suffering is not a sign of God’s lack of love.
Assuring us of our sins being forgiven and assuring us of eternal life is God’s promise and sign of love.
It is really tough sometimes in life but God wants us to trust in his love as we journey to our eternal home where all will be revealed – where all suffering and death will come to an end.
James, in our 2nd reading encourages us - Be patient, therefore, beloved, until the coming of the Lord.
St Paul also encourages us to be patient until Jesus’ promises are fulfilled – in Colossians 3 he says; your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
The Kingdom of Heaven is what Jesus has promised us.
And what God promises he cannot revoke.
And the Kingdom of Heaven will answer all our questions that we have here now in regards to suffering as St Paul says - I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.
Jesus says similar when he says about John – chosen by God to prepare the way for Christ – highly exalted by God – and yet Jesus says - among those born of women no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
That’s how great Heaven is that awaits and we are asked to be patient and trust God’s promise.
Jesus is the one we can trust.
He is the one we are looking for and we are not to seek someone else.