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Third Sunday in Advent
Series A

Option #1: "Not For Sale"
Matthew 11:2-11
Rev. Wayne Dobratz

Introduction: There’s an old story that the devil held an auction. He offers to sell all his tools--all except one, that is. As the buyers gather, they see on the table an oddly shaped tool which was labeled: NOT FOR SALE. Asked to explain, the devil said: “I can spare my other tools, but not this one. It is the most useful tool I have. It is called DISCOURAGEMENT, and with it I can work my way into hearts that are otherwise closed to me. Once I get discouragement into someone’s heart, I can plant all kinds of useful things.” The devil’s best tool was at work in John the Baptist in his lonely prison cell. He sent a messenger to Jesus and Jesus helped him with his doubts. He has the same message for us today. 

WHEN IN DOUBT, REMEMBER...

I. Even the prophets had doubts


    A. Abraham had doubts–Gen 15:8


    B. Moses feared for his life–Ex 17:4


    C. Gideon asked for a sign–Jdg 6:17

 
    D. Elijah wanted to give up after the defeat of the Baal prophets–1 Ki 19:3-4

 
II. Remember what Jesus said


    A. “I am the Light of the world”–John 8:12


    B. He gives rest to troubled souls–Matt 11:29-30


    C. The Kingdom of God has come in Him–Mrk 1:14-15

 

    D. He speaks the Father’s words–John 7:28-29, 14:24

 

III. Remember what Jesus did (text, v2–John’s question is raised on the occasion of Jesus raising the young man at Nain; Lk 7:11ff)


  A. He fulfilled Isaiah’s great prophecy–Isa 61:1-2


  B. Jesus claims in His first message to fulfill this prophecy from Isaiah–Lk 4:18-19


  C. His work of providing spiritual sight, spiritual freedom and spiritual food is illustrated by his miracles  
        1. John 8:32 
        2. Rom 8:2
        3. Rom 8:21
        4. 2 Cor 3:15 
        5. John 8:12 
        6. John 6:27

Adam Clarke's Commentary on the New Testament:

 Go and show John the things—ye do hear and see—Christ would have men to judge only of him and of others by their works. This is the only safe way of judging. The blind receive their sight, look upwards, contemplating the heavens which their Lord hath made. The lame walk—they walk about; to give the fullest proof to the multitude that their cure was real. These miracles were not only the most convincing proofs of the supreme power of Christ, but were also emblematic of that work of salvation which he effects in the souls of men.

1. Sinners are blind; their understanding is so darkened by sin that they see not the way of truth and salvation.

2. They are lame—not able to walk in the path of righteousness.

3. They are leprous, their souls are defiled with sin, the most loathsome and inveterate disease; deepening in themselves, and infecting others.

4. They are deaf to the voice of God, His word, and their own conscience.

5. They are dead in trespasses and sins; God, who is the life of the soul, being separated from it by iniquity.

Nothing less than the power of Christ can redeem from all this; and, from all this, that power of Christ actually does redeem every penitent believing soul. Giving sight to the blind, and raising the dead, are allowed by the ancient rabbis to be works which the Messiah should perform, when He should manifest himself in Israel. The poor have the Gospel preached to them—and what was this Gospel? Why, the glad tidings that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners: that He opens the eyes of the blind; enables the lame to walk with an even, steady, and constant pace in the way of holiness; cleanses the lepers from all the defilement of their sins; opens the ears of the deaf to hear His pardoning words; and raises those who were dead in trespasses and sins to live in union with Himself to all eternity.

+  +  + 

Option #2: "Salvific Suffering"
James 5:7-10
Rev. Kelly Bedard

A. Patience has an ultimate eternal, not present, application: we're called to patience so that, ultimately, more people hear and know of salvation--not just so this present world will be a nicer place in which to live

B. Patience doesn't mean wishy-washy-ness but, instead, standing firm on/with God's Word

C. Impatience produces grumbling and fault-finding and, possibly, judgment

 

Notes

1. makrothumeo (verse 7): be patient, have patience, have long patience, bear long, suffer long, be longsuffering, patiently endure; to be of a long spirit, not to lose heart; to persevere patiently and bravely in enduring misfortunes and troubles; to be patient in bearing the offenses and injuries of others; to be mild and slow in avenging; to be longsuffering, slow to anger, slow to punish

2. karpos (verse 7): fruit; the fruit of the trees, vines, of the fields; the fruit of one's loins, i.e., progeny, posterity; that which originates or comes from something, an effect, result; work, act, deed; advantage, profit, utility; praises, which are presented to God as a thank offering; to gather fruit (i.e., a reaped harvest) into life eternal; (as into a granary), is used in figurative discourse of those who by their labours have fitted souls to obtain eternal life

3. A farmer does not give up when his crop does not come to harvest immediately; he keeps on working even when the crop cannot be seen at all--so Christians must work hard and exercise patient endurance even when the harvest day seems far off.  (David Guzik)

4. Times of hardship can cause us to be less than loving with our Christian brothers and sisters; James reminds us that we cannot become grumblers and complainers in our hardship--lest we condemn ourselves even in our hardship. (Guzik)

5. Without patience our expectation degenerates into wishful thinking. Patience comes from the word "patior," which means to suffer. The first thing Jesus promises is suffering: "I tell you...you will be weeping and wailing...and you will be sorrowful." But he calls these birth pains. And so, what seems a hindrance becomes a way; what seems like an obstacle becomes a door; what seems a misfit becomes a cornerstone. Jesus changes our history from a series of sad incidents and accidents into a constant opportunity for a change of heart. To wait patiently therefore means to allow our weeping and wailing to become the purifying preparation by which we are made ready to receive the joy which is promised us. (Henri Nouwen)

6. Patience does not come automatically to most of us. Here are some ways to practice patience in an ordinary day: choose the longer checkout line at the grocery; avoid looking at the clock when you are waiting for something; hold off on checking the mail; give a little extra consideration to those with whom you live and work. God uses such ordinary moments to help us grow into people filled with christ's own life. (Nouwen)

7. One-liners re: patience: 1) When impatience knocks, send Jesus to the door; 2) Good things come to those who wait; 3) Patience is a virtue; 4) the patience of Job (Jas 5:11ff)

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This page was revised on: Friday, January 20, 2006 12:10:32 PM