When our Gospel text took place, John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. John the Baptist was a man whose authority and message came from God. John the Baptist was a man who knew and trusted The Word of God far more than he knew and trusted anything else in his life. John the Baptist was not a man seeking to preserve the earthly power symbolized by the Temple’s all-too human authorities who were always ready to sell out any Biblical belief to gain what worldly powers and interest groups were willing to offer — he was the man ordained by God to prepare the way for The Lord.
As God had promised seven centuries earlier through the prophet Isaiah, John the Baptist was “The voice of one calling in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make straight paths for Him’.” It was a mission he carried out in the most desolate and lifeless place on earth – to point to the coming of the only One Who can take us from the wilderness that is all temporal life without Jesus.
Once when Jesus described this fiery prophet He said people would be very disappointed if they were looking for a man dressed in fine clothes – or a man acting like a reed swayed by the wind. (MATTHEW 11) John wore clothing made of camel’s hair with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey – the clothes and food of the one calling in the wilderness that is completely devoid of all human and temporal resources. There he preached about the wilderness that exists in the world everywhere faith in Jesus Christ does not exist.
The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to John the Baptist. There were those sincere, pious seekers of divine truth who knew there was an emptiness - an essential lack - in their lives which only God Himself could fill. They prayed John the Baptist was that special prophet to point to The Way God had promised through Isaiah and other Old Testament prophets. They were not disappointed.
And there were those Pharisees and Sadducees who had been sent by the high priest himself to get this popular figure to promote their often unbiblical agendas or, failing that, to disprove any notion others may have had that John the Baptist was God’s VOICE OF ONE CALLING IN THE WILDERNESS.
Away from the resources of human ingenuity and striving, John lived in close harmony with his Creator and there he served as a constant reminder to the people of God’s all-sufficient providing.
Is it any wonder they all flocked to John the Baptist? By the Grace of God, John was offering an eternal relationship of love and trust with God, an assurance of eternal life which radically alters our view of every temporal so-called “necessity of life”. Those are gifts which only God Himself can offer and He offers them to all of humanity through genuine prophets like John the Baptist.
John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. For those who repent and seek their salvation in Christ through John’s symbolic baptism of repentance, John proclaimed a greater Baptism was coming. He spoke God’s Promise. “After me will come One more powerful that I, the thong of Whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water; but He will baptize you with The Holy Spirit.” John the Baptist leads the people into the undrinkable wilderness waters to confess their sinfulness and total unworthiness in God’s Presence. The joyous anticipation of this Advent Season and our very lives is found only in Jesus Who can truly cleanse us and give us genuine life now and eternally through His Baptismal Waters. Only Jesus baptizes with the Holy Spirit Who enlightens and empowers and only Jesus in Holy Baptism cleanses and purifies and empowers.
On this Second Sunday of the Advent Season, we hear again the cry of THE VOICE OF ONE CALLING IN THE WILDERNESS of Judea and THE WILDERNES of life itself -- pointing the way to The Savior Who promises "Whoever believes in Me and in My Word and is baptized will be saved" and who warns "whoever does not believe will be condemned" and Who in the fulfillment of both the Promise and the warning provides the only path to an eternal life and relationship of love and trust with God.
THE PEACE OF GOD WHICH PASSES ALL HUMAN UNDERSTANDING KEEP YOUR HEARTS AND YOUR MINDS IN OUR CRUCIFIED AND RISEN LORD AND SAVIOR AND ONLY PATH OUT OF THE WILDERNESS INTO SALVATION NOW AND ETERNALLY. AMEN.
2nd Sunday of Advent Season
December 10, 2017
Dr. Kurt Borows
Pastor, Resurrection Lutheran Church, Catawba Island, Port Clinton, Ohio