Sermon Advent III Dec 16 2018 Fr. Michael Cawthon
I just love this reading today; although, for many it leaves them scratching their heads –
John the Baptist who knew Jesus from the womb, now does not know him?
Some would say that John by this action is showing our human trait of doubt and confusion,
thus many rationalize that “well, if John had doubt” then that must be OK because he is human.
Recently, I have focused on the love of Jesus for each one of you –
how he cares for you – you are His and
how he can be yours if you receive him in truth.
And we have witnessed a soft and gentle love from Jesus, and we have seen a firm love – “ye have turned my house into a den of thieves”…
In all, we have seen His Being, who He is, and we see only “Love.”
Here today, I see this “love of Jesus” being revealed by His disciple – John the Baptist.
While some will read the Gospel this morning and “see a poor, poor, pitiful me” in John the Baptist,
as they see him questioning his entire life, but we will look deeper.
John the Baptist is in prison and one can only imagine his pain, but now his pain is lesson, mayber even turned to joy,
as he hears of the “works” of Jesus,
the joy of comfortable “words” when in distress soothes ones soul and can bring peace to ones mind;
however, in this reading today
they hear more than words, they hear, as stated in the Gospel, of His works.
People have survived, even in POW camps, solely on the power of hearing Jesus words and of His works,
POW, prisoners of war, give great testimony “that when you have God, you are never alone,”
what a great comfort to them and to us of His Word and Works:
so as even the room (life itself) may appear empty, the heart can still be still be full.
If John had doubts, like many of us, they probably arose from his own current personal circumstance
in which he was alone
and his current imprisonment had not been lesson, or made better, as isolation from friends surely surrounded him.
So yes, even in true faith, there can be a mixture of unbelief and doubt.
But yet, John knew – John had faith – John had the hope of Christ’s Glory in His heart.
So let me focus on the “story” this morning, while acknowledging theologically important factors, but as a story of John exhibiting
the “Love of Christ”: by his actions – to his brethren and disciples.
First the fact that although John was a prisoner; however, his brethren and disciples still gathered and adhered to him,
they attended to him, and anxiously awaited instructions from him, they loved John and did not leave his side.
John the Baptist knew the strength of their faith, or weakness, but he also knew of the need and benefit of them meeting Jesus.
Most assuredly some of John’s followers were probably even jealous of this man named Jesus.
So, John the Baptist sends them to Christ…
I love John the Baptist – his perceived appearance was of a rough and rowdy man in the wilderness –
yet now, from within the depth of his heart,
he sends “his friends” to visit his friend and his Lord,
Jesus Christ (thus leaving himself alone while they journeyed.)
I can even imagine John chuckling to himself (yes, pleased with himself) as they departed
(just wait until they get a load of him when they sit and talk with him, and yes as their eyes are opened
for they will receive the joy that I have received and have had from my own mother’s womb.
What a glorious thing: this “joy of Jesus Christ.”
And the questions that John gives them to ask; well, they reflect the same question that so many have today.
Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?
So many people today want to always look for the easier and better way, never really being satisfied.
This is a shame for to go through life not satisfied is a good indication that what you are seeking, are the wrong things for your life
as they may conflict with “your” own desires and your own “time table”.
Often we think we can control the world around us, good luck with that one.
So in today’s hurry up world it is sort of like asking Jesus
“OK, art thou the Messiah promised, or not”
give me a simple answer so I can be on my way – you know my schedule is busy and I don’t have a lot of time.
It is now that we see the kindness and humbleness of our Lord…
For He did not give them just words “Yes, I am He”;
but instead, He gave them true acts, true examples, of what He had done…
Talk is cheap, but deeds and actions are things that you see and hear,.
Thus the importance of “visible signs” of the sacraments.
Jesus does not just prove himself with just words, so he tells them:
“tell John those things which you do hear and see…”
“the blind receive their sight / The lame walk /Lepers are cleansed
The deaf hear / The dead are raised / The poor have the gospel preached unto them.”
These miracles seen as works of Jesus surely put a big smile on John’s face when he heard of them,
and not so much for himself, but for his beloved disciples.
John had professed that Jesus was the Son of God and The Lamb of God….
Now his beloved disciples experienced what John had preached,
and now they heard of the works of Jesus from the lips of Jesus and surely from those around him…
John’s gift to his disciples was the Truth of this Jesus Christ.
John’s love for his followers was the exact same love revealed by Christ throughout His ministry.
This Gospel ends with a message that we all need to hear and understand.
When John’s disciples had parted – as they were now gone – then did Jesus heap praise upon John.
He did not want the “flattery of John the Baptist” to return to John via his disciples.
He would not give “cheap flattery” to John because He loved him – not a cheap love of words, but the true love of Glory and Salvation,
But Jesus speaks concerning John for his people’s benefit
as he recalls John and his ministry to “make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” Is 40:3,
which ministry was received and well attended by towns and villages throughout the region.
John’s fiery love for Jesus had moved the people.
How about our Love – is it fiery or is it passive.
The satisfaction in serving our Lord is not in cheers and rewards from our peers,
but is in the Knowledge and Love of Christ
that is felt within one’s own heart and soul when serving Him.
To His Glory – not to our own.
So let us go forth and do as John, prepare the world for its God, share the joy of Christ – not for your benefit, but for His.
Go forth, not seeking words of encouragement and praise, but in seeking to bring Joy to others:
As you share this wonderful gift of Jesus to your family and friends – yes as you even bring “Joy to World.” – End
The hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. St. John iv. 23.