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

Second Sunday In Advent
Series B

Option #1: "A Christmas Letter from John the Baptist"
Mark 1:1-8
Rev. Wayne Dobratz, B.A., M.Div.

I. Where he was coming from: "my messenger"--Mark 1:2 & Isa 40:3-5; Lk 1:59-80, especially 76-79 ; John 1:19-28

II. What he did: John preached a Baptism of repentance, thereby removing the stony obstacles from human hearts. He came to make straight paths for the King--verse 4.

Albert Barnes writes: The whole scene is represented as a march, or return, of YAHWEH at the head of his people to the land of Judea. The idea is taken from the practice of Eastern monarchs, who whenever they entered on a journey or an expedition, especially through a barren and unfrequented or inhospitable country, sent harbingers or heralds before them to prepare the way. To do this, it was necessary for level hills and construct causeways over valleys, or fill them up; and to make a way through the forest which might lie in their intended line of march. This was necessary because these contemplated expeditions often involved the necessity of marching through countries where there were no public highways that would afford facilities for the passage of an army. "When a great prince in the East," says Paxton, "sets out on a journey, it is usual to send a party of men before him to clear the way."

...Hence, it means to pile up stones in a heap; and it has also the signification of removing stones from a field, as in Isa 5:2, and here of removing them from the way when they are an obstruction to the traveler.

III. How he described the coming One: text, vv7-8

Richard Lenski: "However highly they thought of John, he was only the herald and forerunner of the Coming One. How much greater this Stronger One will be John describes: the latchet of whose sandals I am unworthy to unloose. It was a slave’s task to unfasten the straps that held the master’s or the honored guest’s sandals to the feet, to take them away, and to clean them of dust."

"...How great, then, must He be? The answer is: The Coming One is God’s own Son. John's words are no self-abasement a prophet, filled with the Spirit, he speaks absolute truth."

"He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit. The distinction is: Before the actually completed work of redemption, the limited preparatory work of the Spirit; after that the super abounding fulness of the Spirit... None but the Son, who had gone to the Father after completing redemption, could send down the Spirit. "

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If you grew up on a farm, you could tell all kinds of stories. One that I remember has to do with today’s Gospel. This is hilly country. Every Spring we farm children knew what was coming. Dad would hook the stone boat to the tractor and it was ROCK PICKING time! When the frost comes out of the ground, stones get pushed up and they must be picked up before the land can be worked.

And some of them were real monster stones! I think of that when I hear the words of John the Baptist: Prepare the way for the Lord; make straight paths for Him. John was using the rock picking chores of his day to picture for us the stones we have in our hearts. Oh, I don’t mean the heart that sends blood around your body three times each minute. I mean your spiritual heart, the inside of you, who you really are. When we look inside of our hearts, we find sin there, just as surely as rocks pop up out of the ground every Springtime.

The Bible tells us that John came preaching repentance. That means to do some rock picking of your own on the inside. In Jesus’ day men would be sent out to pick up the stones in the road when the King was coming. Pick up the stones that get in Christ’s way, move them out of His way! After all, He is the greatest King of all. Then He can come to you without anything getting in the way. That’s the message God has for us in this Advent Season. Are we listening?

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Option #2: "Prep Time"
Mark 1:1-8
Rev. Mark Borchert, B.S., M.Div.



1.   Jesus Christ, the Son of God

      A.  The reader of Mark is told who Jesus is right in the first verse.

      B.  In Jesus’ Baptism, the reader hears God’s voice proclaiming Jesus as His Son.

      C.  The demons recognize Jesus as the Son of God.

      D.  The only other human besides Jesus who acknowledges Jesus as the Son of God is the Roman centurion at the cross in chapter 15.

      E.  “Humans cannot perceive aright who Jesus is until they view His entire life and ministry from the perspective of the cross.” (Kingsbury)

2.   The entire gospel of Mark is considered the “beginning” of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

3.   The events comprising Mark’s account of the Gospel are the fulfillment of prophecy as evidenced by the quote(s) from Malachi and Isaiah. Thus, the events that take place are under the direct governance of God.

4.   John’s life, ministry, and death give a picture of the life, ministry and death of Jesus.

5.   John is the messenger sent to prepare the way.

      A.  He is to clear away obstacles.

      B.  He is to build the way high--a high way.

6.   Repentance is what is needed to prepare the way for the mighty One who is to come.


Point: Preparation for the coming of the Son of God

Problem: We can’t see that preparation is needed.

Promise: One is coming who will baptize with the Holy Spirit, accomplishing final salvation.

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This page was revised on: Monday, November 13, 2006 11:33:08 AM