Zephaniah 3: 14-18a 

Isaiah 12: 2-6 

Philippians 4: 4-9 

Luke 3: 7-18 

“A Mere Prophet” 

Grace and Peace to you my brothers and sisters in Christ, Amen. 

For the longest of time, Israel was without a prophet.  Complete silence for centuries, a void, a darkness, has  overshadowed Israel. It was like when all the animals have  rushed away and an eerie silence befalls a community as the  background white noise disappears before the coming storm or  earthquake. And a massive was indeed coming, coming in the  form of Christ’s arrival. But there was an eerie silence, for the last  prophet who walked on the earth was Malachi. You may know  him as the author of the final book of the Old Testament, the final  book, named after him, Malachi. The Old Testament, the Torah is  a living document meant to be a historical account of the  Judeans, therefore with each prophet a new book was usually  added. But with the eerie silence that befell the people of God, a  silence that lasted 3 to 4 centuries, The Torah and the history of  Israel stagnated, ever waiting for the next prophet. 

So when the next prophet did finally show up, his arrival lead  to a most curious reaction. John the Baptizer, a prophet to  prepare the people for the coming Messiah, preached simple  things and baptized with mere water. Yes, he was a prophet, but  because Israel was without a prophet for so long, their perception  of him was grander than whom he truly was. He spoke with fire 

and brimstone, calling out hypocrites as he disparaged his own  listeners with derogatory names such as brood of vipers. He  called out the fact that instead of repenting they hid behind  Abraham. That is no different than a Christian swollen with pride  hiding behind Christ in order to excuse sinful actions and not  repent. He called them out and warned them the end times is  coming, which is the coming Lamb of God who must die on the  cross to save us from our sins. 

Concerned, the crowds asked him what they must do while  also asking to be baptized. And John gave them obvious  answers, answers that should have led to a nonchalant reaction.  This includes telling them help the needy, don’t steal, don’t lie,  have gratitude; things that the Judeans should already be doing.  But because they do not do these things and because it has been  a long time since a legitimate teacher has come to tell them the  Law, they didn’t just started seeing John as a prophet, but they  overreacted so hard that they started asking if whether or not  John was Christ. 

You may have heard stories of kids who are so horribly  abused that they just don’t know what genuine goodness is. They  are ridiculed, persecuted, attacked, emotionally manipulated, and  beaten. Once rescued, they finally experience genuine care, as a  

parent or a friend or a normal civilized person would naturally  provide. Yet because, said child has never known kindness, such  actions may become too much to handle and those who first  treated them with care become like gods to them.

John is providing simple messages that should be naturally  understood by the common Judean, but this mere prophet in the  eyes of a people who felt abandoned was no mere prophet but  their saving grace. He may be a messenger, but that is all he is.  Thus John explained to those who reacted with joy at this  apparent Christ-like figure, that he is only baptizing them with  water, but the true Christ who is coming, and is in fact already  here, will baptize you with the Holy Spirit. This is why we say  baptism is not an act of man but an act of God, because through  baptism you indeed, 100%, will receive the Holy Spirit. And if you  think that John the baptizer is so great, Christ who is coming and  is already here is so much greater that John is unworthy to untie  Christ’s sandals, a task that would be done by slaves. 

John is a mere prophet, but if you think so fondly of him,  then boy are you going to be surprised when the real deal comes.  So you are impressed by the words of John? Wait until you hear the real Christ. You think John is fire and brimstone? You haven’t  heard such yet. You think John preaches good news? Christ is  the Good News. Yes, it is okay to be amazed by John, but his job  is to point us towards Christ whose amazingness dwarfs John. 

Let us pray, 


Dear Heavenly Father, by sending John to prepare us you  allowed us to get a heads up on your arrival and to heighten our  expectations of you. Help us to never grow lax in observing your  Law and know that your Grace will always be more than our  human understanding. In your holy name we pray, Father, Son,  and Holy Spirit. Amen.

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