Advent IV Sermon (rough draft) Dec 23 2018 Fr. Michael Cawthon
In the fourth Sunday of Advent, as last week, we have John the Baptist brought forth in the Gospel reading.
It is very obvious that the preaching of John the Baptist
concerning the imminent judgement of God upon His People and the world,
and the establishment of The Kingdom,
was causing great excitement
and stirring up the people of Jewry (the Jewish people.)
Because of this testimony of John the Baptist,
the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem from their council,
men of learning and of great gravitas and authority.
(Although in reality, they were sent with one purpose, to suppress John’s teachings.)
It is interesting that they would send such high level “diplomats” of the Jewish faith to examine John the Baptist?
Let us speak just for a moment of John the Baptist:
Zechariah, John the Baptists Father, was of the sect of Abijah (Lk 1:5 – a – bi a ) (A * Bi’ * Jah),
Indicating that Zechariah was not only a Levite, but also a descendant of Aaron,
thus Zechariah was an Aaronic Priest.
And Luke also declares that Zechariah wife was “of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth.”
So, not only is John’s dad a descendant of Aaron, but his mother is also from within an Aaronic family.
This makes John the Baptist a full-blooded Aaronic (being of the house of Aaron.)
Therefore; for someone to examine and question John, one had to probably be – at least at the level of a priest.
One could make the case that God had chosen Zechariah, a man without a child,
and fulfilling (even if for a day) his rightful role of Priest.
God selects this man, in his old age, to have a child, that is, to produce one last Priest; please read St. Luke chapter 1.
Luke 1:15 says, “He will be great in the sight of the Lord. And he will drink no wine or liquor.
And he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, while yet in his mother’s womb
and he will turn many of the sons of Israel back to the Lord God.”
It is he who will go as a forerunner before him – before the Messiah.
And in Malachi 3:1 God tells us that he will send a “messenger” to prepare the way of the Lord.
The proclaiming of the coming Messiah was not a secret hid from the world,
but was actually the repeated revelation of God to His people in the Old Testament.
It has been written: (In his Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophecy, J. Barton Payne itemized)
of 127 Messianic predictions which involve more than 3,000 Bible verses,
with over 500 (574) verses referring directly to a personal Messiah!
Let us review just a few written in the OT AND fulfilled/confirmed in the New:
Of His Birth:
Born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2, Matthew 2:1; Luke 2:4-7)
Born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:21-23)
a descendant of Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3; 22:18; Matthew 1:1; Galatians 3:16),
of the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:10; Luke 3:23, 33; Hebrews 7:14),
and of the house of David (2 Samuel 7:12-16; Matthew 1:1)
Of His early life:
We read of the killing the infants (Jeremiah 31:15; Matthew 2:16-18) (Herod)
and of Jesus being taken into Egypt (Hosea 11:1; Matthew 2:14-15)
And of His ministry:
To be proclaimed by the messenger of the Lord (John the Baptist) (Isaiah 40:3-5; Malachi 3:1; Matthew 3:1-3)
Of being anointed by the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 11:2; Matthew 3:16-17)
Of bringing and preaching good news (Isaiah 61:1; Luke 4:14-21)
Performing miracles (Isaiah 35:5-6; Matthew 9:35)
Cleansing of the Temple (Malachi 3:1; Matthew 21:12-13)
And ministering in Galilee (Isaiah 9:1; Matthew 4:12-16)
Concerning His Passion and Crucifixion:
He would entered into Jerusalem as a king on a donkey (Zechariah 9:9; Matthew 21:4-9)
And He would be rejected by Jews (Psalm 118:22; 1 Peter 2:7)
And die a humiliating death (Psalm 22; Isaiah 53)
Which would involved: rejection (Isaiah 53:3; John 1:10-11; 7:5,48),
betrayal by a friend (Psalm 41:9; Luke 22:3-4; John 13:18),
sold for 30 pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12; Matthew 26:14-15),
and who would be silent before His accusers (Isaiah 53:7; Matthew 27:12-14),
He also would be mocked (Psalm 22: 7-8; Matthew 27:31),
beaten (Isaiah 52:14; Matthew 27:26),
spit upon (Isaiah 50:6; Matthew 27:30),
and there would be piercing of His hands and feet (Psalm 22:16; Matthew 27:31),
while crucified with thieves (Isaiah 53:12; Matthew 27:38),
all the while praying for His persecutors (Isaiah 53:12; Luke 23:34),
as His side was pierced (Zechariah 12:10; John 19:34),
He would even be given gall and vinegar to drink (Psalm 69:21, Matthew 27:34, Luke 23:36),
He would have no broken bones (Psalm 34:20; John 19:32-36),
and would be buried in a rich man’s tomb (Isaiah 53:9; Matthew 27:57-60),
and they would cast of lot for His garments (Psalm 22:18; John 19:23-24).
Finally: of post crucifixion it is written:
He it is Who Rose from the dead! (Psalm 16:10; Mark 16:6; Acts 2:31)
And Ascended into Heaven (Psalm 68:18; Acts 1:9)
And Sat down at the right hand of God (Psalm 110:1; Hebrews 1:3)
Christianity, because it is true, was not formed in darkness
but was prophesied in the Old Testament
and fulfilled in the New by Jesus Christ – to be seen by all.
Thus when they mistook John the Baptist for the Christ, he confessed:
“I AM NOT THE CHRIST
Another is at hand, He it is.
Although coming after me, (He) is preferred before me.”
John simply and plainly tells them
“I am the voice crying in the wilderness
Make straight the way of the Lord”
My friends, it is you and I who are now called…
As John was a descendant of Aaron, each of you are a descendant of Jesus Christ through your baptism.
It is you who are to take Christ into the wilderness,
the wilderness of this spiritually barren land,
so that He can purify the polluted world which surrounds all of us…
It is His Divine Grace, God’s unmerited Love for us,
that provides the means for the cleansing of this world from it filth.
In a few days, we will celebrate the Incarnation of Jesus.
Let not another day, or year, slip away from your Salvation
and from your Hope of His Glory…
Come forward in a few moments
and partake of His Body and Blood
and allow Him to strengthen and cleanse you;
let Him prepare you for the battle which lies ahead.
Let 2019 be the year that you find Peace and Love, within His Loving Arms,
As you become all that you can be – In His Name –
in the name of Jesus Christ.
Hold nothing back, Be faithful, be strong, be His forever.
The hour cometh….