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Thomas F. Fischer, M.Div., M.S.A., Editor

Second Sunday In Advent
Series A

Option #1: "Correcting A Long Wrong Idea"
Matthew 3:5-12
Rev. Wayne Dobratz, B.A., M.Div.

I. The wrong idea--vv7-9; John 8:39-44

John MacArthur’s New Testament Commentary: John’s message of preparation for the coming of the King was repentance, conversion, the demand for a completely different life. That must have been startling news for Jews who thought that, as God’s chosen people--the children of Abraham, the people of the covenant--they deserved and were unconditionally assured of the promised King. Knowing what they must have been thinking, John later told his listeners, "Do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father’; for I say to you, that God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham" (3:9).

II. The correction--vv5-6; 10-12; Rom 4:1-3, 9:6-9, 11:13-17; Gal 4:22-31

The message John proclaimed was simple, so simple it could easily be summarized in one word: repent (3:2a; cf Acts 13:24; 19:4). The Greek word (metanoeoô) behind repent means more than regret or sorrow (cf Heb. 12:17); it means to turn around, to change direction, to change the mind and will. It does not denote just any change, but always a change from the wrong to the right, away from sin and to righteousness. In his outstanding commentary on Matthew; John A. Broadus observes that "wherever this Greek word is used in the New Testament the reference is to changing the mind and the purpose from sin to holiness." Repentance involves sorrow for sin, but sorrow that leads to a change of thinking, desire, and conduct of life. "The sorrow that is according to the will of God," Paul says, "produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation" (2 Cor 7:10; cf. v9). John’s command to repent could therefore be rendered "be converted."

God was not interested in His people’s human heritage but in their spiritual life. God calls for radical change and transformation that affects the mind, the will, and the emotions--the whole person. John’s point was simple: "You are in the same condition as the Gentiles. You have no right to the kingdom unless you repent and are converted from sin to righteousness."

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Object: A toy shopping cart or an imaginary real one. A girl pretends to be shopping and a boy is following her in the same lane.

You’ve probably noticed that sometimes your teachers and your parents use words you don’t understand. That can happen in the church, too. I want to fix that today with one of the Bible’s most important words. It is the word REPENT. This is the time of year when people do a lot of shopping and the stores can be very crowded. Since you have a lot of things you need to get, you grab a shopping cart when you enter the store.

Well, someone is in front of you and she’s looking at some things and you’re looking at some other things, and then she stops. You don’t see that she has stopped, and your shopping cart smashes into her ankle. Now (a boy) being the gentleman that you are, you have something to say. What is it? (EXCUSE ME! or I’M SORRY!) No harm done, the lady says, and you both continue your shopping. But the same thing happens again and again--three times in the same shopping lane! Now what will she think about you?

We all sin much everyday, and I’m not saying that God has some kind of limit on how many times He forgives us. No, Jesus paid for all of our sins. What I am saying is that when you say you’re sorry, it should mean that you’re really sorry and that you’ve CHANGED YOUR MIND about what you did and you’ll try very hard not to let it happen again.

There! Now you know what the word REPENT means. Now the next time you go Christmas shopping, watch where you’re going. And watch your back; someone is always behind you!

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Option #2: "Theological Tree Trimming"
Matthew 3:1-12
Rev. Kelly Bedard, B.A., M.Div.

The Point: "Don't wait until the last minute!" is not the cry of only "Commercial Advent."
The Problem: Focusing on and/or being deceived by the so-called "goodness of humanity."
The Promise: The goodness of the One who became man has done all that is needed for our salvation, the One who indwells in us empowering us to repent and to bear fruit for Him.
Inspired and adapted from a homiletical help by Robert Rosin
1."...out of such crooked timber like that of humanity, no straight thing can ever be made." (Immanuel Kant)
2. "Repent" is a call to radical change. Radical: "radix" in Latin, or the root of the matter; a throughgoing makeover in thought, actions, relationships; a top-to-bottom change. Words like the Baptist's are meant for our eternal good, but that's too great a task to leave to us. Repentance is really the Lord's doing, because our preparations would fall short. Yes, repent is imperative, but don't get any big ideas about what can be done. The best John's hearers really can do, then and now, is to give up on doing and see God do all that is needed in their lives for them to reach their place in the kingdom. (Robert Rosin)
3. Listen to the axe flailing away at the tree--no mere trimming but a hewing down. John's listeners in a parched land knew there was no room or water to waste. Fruit matters. Fruit of repentance and fruit in lives claimed and then committed. (Rosin)
4. .we have One to whom we cling through deserts or through whatever may come till He comes again. Repent, prepare--it is not wasted effort. It is part of all God does for His own. (Rosin)
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