Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Sunday, December 20, 2009 Advent IV John 1:19-28

A Prophet from among you, from your brothers, like me, He will raise up for you–Yahweh, your God; you will listen to Him. Like everything which you requested away from Yahweh, your God on Horeb on the day of the assembly saying, "May I not take in to hear the voice of Yahweh, my God; and this great fire, may I not see any more, and I will not die." And Yahweh said to me, "It is good, what they have spoken. A Prophet I will raise up for them, from among their brothers like you, and I will give My words into His mouth, and He will speak to them all which I command Him. And it will be, the man who does not listen to my words which He will speak in My name, I, Myself will demand from him.

It would seem that John the baptizer is not 100% clear on exactly who he is, according to scripture. Jerusalem priests ask him, "Who are you?" and he immediately answers, "Well, I'm not the Messiah." So far so good. Then they ask him if he's Elijah. There he is somewhat muddled, for John actually was the promised return of Elijah, preaching with Elijah's own spirit as Jesus testifies to on more than one occasion. Then they ask him if he is The Prophet. To this, John answers correctly: No!

How can John not be The Prophet? Didn't Jesus say that there was no man born greater than John? No other prophet of this earth can compare to John can they? Of course not. John is the greatest of all the line of OT prophets who preceded him. His is the culmination of OT prophecy concerning the Christ. John is by far the greatest of all the prophets of old, pronouncing prophet with a distinctive small *p*. But John is not The Prophet with a capital *P* predicted in the days of Moses.

There is only One superior to John, as far as Prophecy goes. That One, of course, is none other than Jesus. Jesus is the perfect Prophet, for every word uttered from His mouth is, by definition, God's word! The prophet Moses prophesies about this great prophet, that He would be Yahweh, your God; but Moses also predicted that he would be from among the Israelites, from their brethren. How can this be? Because Jesus is God who took upon Himself the human flesh of a prophet.

How humble was John, to downplay His own role as the one who prepared the Lord's way, recognizing that the great Prophet to come would far surpass anything he would do. This humility is a lesson to us all this day. For each and every one of us must learn to be slow to speak, and quick to listen to the Prophet, Jesus. For if you fail to listen to Jesus' prophecy spoken in His Father's name, God will demand from you what you cannot ever pay to Him, and that wouldn't bode well for you.

You must be humbled by God's Law so that you realize, like John, that you are not the Prophet. You may think that this is a sin you would never commit, but don't be too sure. If you love to talk about what you think is best for your church, and if you make it a priority to convince others of your opinions, then you are acting as if you are the Prophet. You act as if Jesus isn't the Prophet when you make excuses to avoid those God-given opportunities to come to His house to hear Jesus' word.

The voice of the Prophet Jesus convicts you of your sin for the purpose of bringing you to repentance so that you can be forgiven. His comforting voice proclaims all your sins to be forgiven, including those of trying to talk in His place, or acting as if His word doesn't matter. Jesus declares you to be forgiven, blameless in His sight, and righteous once again for His sake saying, "Father, forgive them." For whenever your Pastor forgives you in God's name, it is done in heaven just as here on the earth.

Part of being humble is knowing when to use our ears to listen to Jesus, our Prophet. Not just hearing, but really listening in such a way as to heed Jesus' words so that they can make changes in your life. For if you do not pay attention to the words Jesus prophesies to you, in the end, you may find yourself in trouble. On the last day, when Christ returns to judge the living and the dead, you may be called on the carpet, so to speak, for your lack of listening to the words of your Prophet.

For those who don't hear the words of the Prophet in faith, demands will be made of them by God. Not so for you who believe, for all of the Fathers demands have already been met for you in Christ Jesus at the cross. There, He suffered all of His Father's wrath against sin in your place, receiving in full the punishment you deserve. So that in blessed trade, you now receive the blessings Jesus alone earned for you by the giving up of His body on the tree, and by the shedding of His blood.

A great Prophet has arisen for you, Christ Jesus, who proclaims your sins to be forgiven, Who has cleansed you at the font, and Who nourishes your soul with His body given, and blood shed for you.

No comments: