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A Preacher Who Dared to Preach “Repent!”

December 8, 2013

Second Sunday in Advent                                                                    Trinity Lutheran Church

8 December 2013                                                                                                       Murdock, NE

+Jesu Juva +

Matthew 3:1-12


Wow!  Who let this guy get in to the ministry?  Who is responsible for signing this Wacko Nut Job’s ordination certificate? Seriously!  Don’t spin it by saying that he slipped through the cracks.  Or that there’s a pastor shortage and the church has to take any Joe Blow who applies to preach.  Some ecclesiastical heads need to roll.  There’s got to be a little accountability!

For starters check out his name:  John the Baptist.  Who does he think he is taking a name like that?

How about that look? Duck Dynasty gone bad!  Real bad!  Out-Si’s Uncle Si! Camel hair vestments?  A leather rope for a cincture.  Seriously?  Obviously, he’s dumped the edgy torn jeans and t-shirt look we’ve all come to know and love from all the younger and with-it pastors.  He desperately needs a metrosexual hair cut, five o’clock shadow, an earring or two, a couple piercings, and a manicure so he can be the eye candy pastor we yearn for and swoon over in the church.  And where’s the hot blonde wife, the first lady, to do the coveted team ministry?  She’s MIA!

It’s one thing to go on a diet, you know like Marie Osmond, but limiting yourself to dried, roasted grasshoppers sprinkled with a little bit of honey?  That’s really going a bit overboard, wouldn’t you say?  He expects everyone to go out into the red-hot (hot as …. well you know) sandy desert to hear him pontificate and drone on and on for hours.  People have better things to do!

In addition, the preacher has the nerve to use the nasty and forbidden “r” word.  No pastor is allowed to say that word anymore.  It’s been stricken from preacher speak.  Isn’t that somewhere in the bylaws of the church?  Or didn’t a convention deep six the “r” word?

Now, when he constantly uses the banned “r” word, he audaciously assumes that people will need to confess their sins (as if they’re sinners).  Confession?  Confession of sin?  HELLO?  Didn’t the church get rid of that too a long time ago?  The eye candy pastors sure have!  Confessing sin?  Who’s got anything to confess?  It’s all such a downer and keeps people away from coming to church any way!  We want joy!  Atta boys!    Entertainment!  We want to rock!  Preacher John’s constant use of the “r” word is way over the top!

So who let this John THE BAPTIST in to the ministry?  Who was the idiot that let him loose and wreak so much havoc in the church?

Do you really want to know?  Do you?  I’ll tell you if you insist?  All right.  All right.

The … Lord Himself called John to preach!  No joke!  You’re not being punk’d.  I’m totally and completely serious!  The Lord’s responsible for this preacher.

I know it’s shocking.  Absurd.  Outrageous.  But it’s true.

So now what?  What are you going to do now?  Do you still want ecclesiastical heads to roll? Or will you just cover your eyes, open up your ears and listen?

Yes, let’s!  Let’s do just that.

After all, John is the “voice crying out in the desert.”  He has been sent to prepare you for the Lord Jesus Himself.  Jesus comes and reigns as the King!  At Bethlehem’s cradle.  At Calvary’s crypt.  In the preached Word and in the Sacraments of Holy Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.  Then in glory on the Last Day to judge the living and the dead.  And you’d better be prepared to meet the Lord Jesus as He advents Himself as King.

In order to get you ready, you need a preacher.  So God sends you one.  JOHN THE BAPTIST:  “the last and greatest of the prophets.” That’s what Jesus called him by the way (Matthew 11:9-11)!

“Repent” is the first word out of his mouth.  Why?  Because, “the kingdom of heaven is at hand!  In other words, the King from heaven is here:  JESUS!  He has rolled up His sleeves and come down from heaven in order to pull off a Good Friday for the salvation of the world!”  Sinners like you and me must be repented if we would meet the King — Jesus properly.

And the only way that’s going to happen is for God to employ a preacher’s mouth to preach it.  Preachers are the Lord’s voice to calls sinners to repentance.  Otherwise you’d never hear it.  Seriously.  We don’t hear such language where we work, live or play.  It’s only a preacher like John who dares to use the “r” word.

So, it’s time to be squared up to reality.  Time that we learned what the essence of what it means to be baptized and to live as baptized Christians.  Time for us to grow up and be mature Christians.  You want that, don’t you?  Of course you do.  So here goes.  I hope you’re all ears.  THE CHRISITAN LIFE IS ALWAYS ONE OF REPENTANCE.

If you think that you can do without repentance, then you’re on the ragged edge of living outside your baptism or outside of Christianity.  Seriously!

Or let me put it positively.  I hope this just blows the circuit breakers in your minds  You’re growing, progressing, or maturing as a Christian when you’re always, every day … BEING REPENTED by the Lord.  Repentance is the heart of Christian living!  That’s why John’s first sermon is:  “Repent!”  So too Jesus!  He preached the same thing in His first public sermon after His ordination:  “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near,” (Matthew 4:17)!  And all the apostles in the New Testament preach it too.  Why?  Because repentance IS THE CHRISTIAN LIFE!  The Christian never moves beyond repentance! 

Part of repentance is telling the truth.  First, the truth about yourself.  Revealed to you by God through His Word.  And what truth is that?  That you’re a sinner.  Full blown.  Total.  A no holds barred sinner.  Like you did at the beginning of the service.  You told the Lord the truth about yourself: that you are a:  “poor, miserable” sinner worthy of His “temporal and eternal punishment.”  Spot on!  Or as they say in New Orleans:  “True Dat!”  Or as the Bible teaches:  to confess that you’re a sinner is “the beginning of wisdom!”  Or as John put it quoting Isaiah:  “make straight paths for him.”

The next part of repentance is faith.  It is the most important part of repentance.  That too is the truth of God’s work in, with and under you.  Through His Word of mercy the Holy Spirit faiths you so that you turn your back on your sin and receive God’s “boundless mercy” promised to sinners “for the sake of the holy, innocent, bitter sufferings and death” of His “beloved Son, Jesus Christ.”    Faith receives and rejoices in the truth of God’s forgiveness in given in the Word and Sacraments.

Faith doesn’t say “no” to the Lord’s giving.  Faith is always eager to hear Christ’s forgiveness, live from holy baptism, and  go to the Lord’s Supper.

The Lord’s giving of forgiveness has its way with you.  His grace enlivens you to:  “produce fruit in keeping with repentance.”  Notice it’s called “fruit.”  The good tree of faith bears good fruit.  It comes naturally.  Fruit of the Spirit who has called you to faith in Jesus.

Like having more patience with your kids.  Or actually doing your job for the sake of the company doing well and satisfying the customer. Out of the blue you hold your tongue in order to let loose a barrage of praise and support for your neighbor’s reputation.  You work for the well-being of the member’s on your congregation.

Gentlemen, it means listening – really listening – perhaps for the first time in your life to the concerns of your wife.  All of a sudden you want to help her and please her.  You want to love her. “Where did all that come from?” you ask.  From the Spirit who has gospel-ed you.  Faith-ed you.  Enlivened you to “produce fruit in keeping with repentance.”    

Dittos for the ladies.  All of a sudden you cherish and prize your husband.   You have tender thoughts toward him and respect him.  All at once you’re interested in the things that interest him.  And he’s the most important person in your life. “Where in the world did all that come from?” you ask. From the Spirit who has gospel-ed you ladies.  Faith-ed you.  Enlivened you to “produce fruit in keeping with repentance.”    

Confession of sin, faith in Jesus, and faith’s fruit.  The three parts of repentance!  This is the life of the Christian.  You never move beyond it!

All because the Lord gave you a preacher.  Preacher John THE BAPTIST.  Who dared to proclaim:  “Repent, because Jesus who is the kingdom of heaven on the earth is at hand.”

In the Name of Jesus.

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