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The Best Preacher — The Best Preaching!

December 14, 2014

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Third Sunday in Advent                                               Trinity Lutheran Church

14 December 2014                                                         Murdock, NE

 

+Jesu Juva +

 

John 1:6-8, 19-28

 

John was such an amazing preacher. And we, in the church, need more like him.

 

Not because he preaches in the desert, wears camel hair clothes, devours locusts and slurps down wild honey for breakfast, and baptizes in a river. Not because he tells human interest stories that bring tears to your eyes. Not because he tells humorous stories that people can relate to. Not because he gave witness to how God changed his life from being a deadbeat Woodstock-like heroine addict to an obedient man of God. Not because he claims to be Elijah of the Old Testament or the promised prophet of Deuteronomy 18.

 

Instead, John was such a rare and an outstanding preacher because he faithfully preached God’s Word! The law without diminishment. The gospel without limit. Law preaching that exposed and killed the sinner. Gospel preaching that delivers forgiveness from the Mightier One (Jesus). Such forgiveness, then, preached and bestowed in Jesus’ Name miraculously creates a new creature spelled F-A-I-T-H! The believer that hangs on and around Jesus for salvation. Eventually, such truthful preaching by John would land him in jail and he’d be made shorter by a head by those who wanted nothing to do with being properly advented, that is, to say, repented and faithed. Goes with the territory of being an authentic preacher of the Bible.

 

But at the same time, John’s accurate and proper preaching of the law and the gospel drew huge crowds that went out to hear him. It’s why so many were repented and faithed: advented and received his “baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Mark 1:4) in the Jordan. These people learned to confess the truth about themselves, namely, that they were dead, damned sinners who were in desperate need of the gospel promise that Jesus is the one and only Savior of sinners. John, through his proper preaching of distinguishing between the law and gospel, gave sinners what they ultimately needed: Jesus!

 

Have you ever heard a better preacher than John the Baptist? Or better preaching than his? Seriously. Have you?

 

Only if the preacher preaches like John who emphatically proclaimed: “I am not the Christ.”

 

When John’s not the Christ, that means someone else is the Christ. And who is that? Yes, that’s right: Jesus! “He [Jesus],” John declares, “is the one who comes after me, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.”

 

Preacher John is a nothing. The lowest of low. He is only “the voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’”   John preaches not to exalt himself as if he’s so special, but to exalt Jesus who truly is special. Divinely special. The divine Light who gives salvation to sinners. And so, in John’s preaching, Jesus the Messiah-Savior, is everything for sinners. And FOR YOU. Jesus the Christ is the Lord for whom John’s preaching prepares sinners. Your salvation depends on Jesus. Only Jesus – the Christ.

 

So learn from preacher John and his preaching to diagnose what a good sermon is. Or what is the best preaching in the church.   Close your eyes and open your ears. Listen to what the voice of the preacher preaches. The emphasis must be: JESUS! John preaching bears witness not to himself but to Jesus the Light of salvation. John’s preaching gives Jesus to sinners. John’s preaching delivers the goods of eternal salvation: Jesus! He’s the Christ!

 

Do you lust for a different kind of preacher? A different kind of preaching? Should John have preached someone or something else? Are you bored, apathetic, indifferent or antagonistic to John’s preaching of and the bold witness to the Light, Christ Jesus?

 

If so, you need to repent. Seriously. Before it’s too late. To put off, blow off, or reject the preaching of Jesus as Savior for sinners and for you will cause you eternal spiritual harm. It’s called hell. The forever and ever being separated from God and His forgiveness in Christ. Damned in and with your sin.

 

I know how sinners are. I am one. The old Adam (mine and your sinful nature) tag teams with the world and the devil to do a triple threat on preaching and preachers that dare to preach Jesus and give witness to Jesus as the Savior of sinners. The triple team criticism goes like this: “Jesus is nice and all, but not everything, especially when it comes to salvation. Your obedience surely counts in the salvation game. Your trying really hard certainly earns you brownie points before God. And, look here, people really are basically good. There’s a spark of divinity within everyone. We just need to discover it and let it loose. We need to let people reach their potential – and stop putting up so many roadblocks that are so restrictive! Once we help people reach their capabilities, unleash what’s possible for them, the world will be transformed. Utopia!   A heaven on the earth! At last!”

 

Enough of that! Time to listen to a faithful voice. The preacher voice’s named John! “I am not the Christ.”

 

Indeed. Jesus is. When John preaches, “I am not the Christ,” he’s preaching Jesus as the Christ — Savior for you. He’s telling you: “The Light of salvation has come! He is here. He is Jesus. He’s come to die on the cross for you. To take away all your sin as the Lamb of God.”

 

No better preaching than that. No better preacher than that. The preacher and preaching that gives you Jesus and the gift of salvation through the forgiveness of sins. As you believe – so you have!

 

In the Name of Jesus.

 

 

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