Be Ready for the Coming of the Lord, Sermon 12/9/2018

“Be Ready for the Coming of the Lord”

Malachi 3:1-4;  Luke 3:1-6

Today is the second Sunday in Advent. Advent is a period of preparation for Jesus’ coming. At this time of the year the Spirit of Christmas is always present. What is the joy of Christmas? Is it in having the family together? Is it in decorating of Christmas tree? Is it in receiving lots of gifts? Or is it because of a holiday from school or work?

The real joy of Christmas is that God will come in Christ to save us. In Christ, the true God was truly present.

According to the book of Malachi, Yahweh promises to send his messenger to prepare the way for his coming. The messenger is the center of this periscope. Malachi means “my messenger.” The book was written by an unknown prophet who considered himself the messenger to prepare the way for Yahweh’s coming to the rebuilt temple after the return of the Exiles from Babylon. Christians interpret this passage as a promise of a messenger fulfilled by John the Baptist to prepare the way for Christ.

To prepare the way for Christ’s coming, John the Baptist preaches repentance. The focus is upon John the Baptist who is related to both secular and salvation history. He is the last of the Old Testament prophets who point to Jesus as the Christ. The call to preach comes to John when he is in the wilderness and carries out his call by preaching repentance to the region around the Jordan River.

We cannot have Jesus unless we first have John. God sends John to prepare people for the acceptance of Jesus. If there is no sense of sin, there is no need for a Savior. If there is no repentance, there can be no forgiveness. If there is no death to self, there can be no new life.

The Scripture says, “Then John went from place to place on both sides of the Jordan River, preaching that people should be baptized to show that they had turned to God and away from their sins, in order to be forgiven” (Luke 3:3)

The average person asks, “Why should I repent? I am happy as I am. I don’t see any need to change my lifestyle.”  John the Baptist’s call for the people to “straighten out” their lives meant that they should give up their selfish way of living.

During this Advent season, a time for repentance as preparation for Jesus’ coming, people are preparing for Christmas dinners, parties, and family reunions. Least of all is there any time given to the need for repentance as preparation for Christmas. Yet, we all know we are sinners and our society is polluted with the corruption of sin.

What is repentance? Repentance means to confess the things that afflict us before God and to turn our whole heart to the Lord.

In the gospel of John 13:1-11, Jesus tried to wash Peter’s feet, Peter refused to allow Jesus to wash his feet. But Jesus told him that unless he accepted this washing, he would have no part of him. Peter then begged that not only his feet, but his hands, and his head should also be washed. But Jesus told him that it was enough that his feet should be washed. Jesus said, “A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean. And you are clean…”

Here, what Jesus said was that we don’t need to pay the price again for our sins. The blood of Jesus washed away our sins so that we are saved. Our sins are forgiven. But we sometimes fail to fulfill God’s commandments, even though we try to live according to God’s will.  So, we still need to repent daily for our failures and shortcomings. Just as apostle Paul confessed in the book of Romans 7:15, “l do not understand what I do. For what I want to do, I do not do, but what I hate I do.” He expresses an experience which is of the very essence of the human situation. Unless our lives are led by the help of the Holy Spirit, we cannot live a righteous life.

We sometimes feel guilty and weak, when we are unable to live according to God’s will. We still have these kinds of weaknesses; hatred, unforgiveness, doubt, ignorance and indifference. Sin is “any thought, word, action, omission or desire, contrary to the Law of God. The Scripture give us a clear picture of sin:

I John 3:4 says, “Whoever sins is guilty of breaking God’s law, because sin is a breaking of the law.”  I John 2:9 says, “…if you treat people according to their outward appearance, you are guilty of sin, and the Law condemns you as a lawbreaker.” We must treat all people as we would want to be treated. And James 4:17 says, “…the person who does not do the good he knows he should do is guilty of sin.” Knowing to do good, but not doing it is sin. We tend to think that doing wrong is sin. But apostle James tells us that sin is also not doing right.

Dear friends!  Unless we confess our sins, the Holy Spirit never overflows into our lives. When we come to Christ with repentance, he forgives all the sins we have committed. The Scripture says, “…if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” ( I John 1:9).

Let us prepare the way of the Lord by repenting our sins. Let us confess the things that afflict us before the Lord then Jesus can be reborn in our hearts. The Lord said, “Be holy, because I am holy.”

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