Download and Listen To This Sermon
2 the Word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness. 3 And he went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
Can you hear the advent call? It cries out even now, from the voice of the forerunner. The kingdom is at hand. It is already here, for the king himself has come. Now is the time to prepare. Now is the time to repent and seek His forgiveness. Now is the time to preach the Good News to one and all. Grace goes before and is free, it is not earned through repentance; that we are able to repent, in itself is a work of grace in us. Therefore there is no repentance without faith, no rejecting of sin without the acceptance of the forgiveness of sin.”
Sound the trumpet! Tell the message: Christ, the Savior king, is come!1
7 [John] said therefore to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, We have Abraham as our father. For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. 9 Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
The Advent cry is one of repentance and forgiveness, but forgiveness is not the kind of good news everyone wants to hear. To value forgiveness, first we must see our desperate need for forgiveness. We are not better than others simply because we are Christian. We have not proven our worth by going to church or reading our Bibles. Even the best of our lives have not been as fruitful or as productive as they should be. We must recognize that there is right and there is wrong. God is right, and anything that doesn’t agree with Him is wrong. We must acknowledge our sin, and see that all our self-interests have worked toward lead only to sadness and shame.
Herald, sound the note of judgment, Warning us of right and wrong,
Turning us from sin and sadness Till once more we sing the song.
4 As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. 5 Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall become straight, and the rough places shall become level ways, 6 and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.
Yet into the rough and rugged wilderness of our souls, a glad sound echoes forth. The King is here. The Christ has come and all flesh shall see the salvation He brings. Every ravine shall be filled up – all anxious minds and discouraged hearts shall take courage, for the King is coming to pay the penalty for, and forgive, all their sins. Every mountain and hill shall be made low – all self-righteous, proud spirits shall be broken and brought to the understanding that without Jesus they cannot escape the wrath to come. The tortuous and crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places shall be made smooth – all those that are lost in the error of their own lusts, all those that are seeking, by devious byways, to enter into life, should cast their foolish thoughts far from them and come to Jesus, the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
Herald, sound the note of gladness; Tell the news that Christ is here;
Make a pathway through the desert For the one who brings God near.
10 And the crowds asked him, What then shall we do? 11 And he answered them, Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise. 12 Tax collectors also came to be baptized and said to him, Teacher, what shall we do? 13 And he said to them, Collect no more than you are authorized to do. 14 Soldiers also asked him, And we, what shall we do? And he said to them, Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages.
The trumpet call sounds forth “bear fruits in keeping with repentance” and its piercing tones slice deep through heart and mind. And the souls in which this call resonates and rings true, echo in return – what shall we do? What fruits should we give that befit the grace we’ve been shown? Nothing short of a new life, a pardoned life, a life that is lived on the basis of Baptism and God’s Word. A life that is lived not for the attachment to the things of this world, but for the benefit of one’s neighbour. A life of sharing with the poor and needy, a life of fairness and honesty, a life of contentment – this is the new life repentance gives.
Herald, sound the note of pardon— Those repenting are forgiv’n;
God receives His wayward children, And to them new life is giv’n
15 As the people were in expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Christ, 16 John answered them all, saying, “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. 17 His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” 18 So with many other exhortations he preached good news to the people.
The Advent call is so powerful the popular expectation and conjecture was that John might be the promised Christ. But he promptly denied this as any forerunner of Christ should. The One, for whose coming he was preparing the way, would be so much mightier and stronger that John did not feel worthy to perform the lowest service of a slave for Him. Christ would baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire. In and through the trumpet cry of the Gospel He gives to sinners His Spirit for the renewing of our hearts, for the sanctifying of our life. His power has the purifying, cleansing properties of fire. It gives sinners strength to do what John demanded, bear fruits of life worthy of repentance. May this same Gospel-given Spirit enable you to sound the trumpet in this day and age, telling the message of Christ to those around you as you prepare for the day of triumph when Christ returns in glory for you!
Herald, sound the note of triumph; Christ has come to share our life,
Bringing God’s own love and power, Granting vict’ry in our strife.
Sound the trumpet! Tell the message: Christ, the Savior king, is come!
1 Text (sts. 1, ref, 2–4): © 1977 Moir A. J. Waters Used by permission: LSB Hymn License .NET, number 100010248. Created by Lutheran Service Builder © 2006 Concordia Publishing House.