Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Advent 2 John v Jesus in Matthew 3

Matthew 3:1-12

John & Jesus: Similar but Different.

Same Family 
Spiritual Conception 
Set Apart
Nutter “ locusts & honey /“Nutter” glutton & drunkard
Blunt Northerner
Water Baptism/  Spirit Baptism

In 1830, a man by the name of George Wilson was sentenced to hanging for killing a government employee during a train robbery. For some reason, President Andrew Jackson gave the man a full pardon. But the man refused to accept it.

That had never happened before and nobody knew how to handle it. The case went all the way up to the Supreme Court to establish a precedent. Chief Justice Marshall declared that a pardon is an offer to hold somebody not accountable for any crimes they may have committed. But if that person refuses to receive the pardon so, in effect, no pardon was given. So, Mr. Wilson was quickly hanged.

Jesus is offering you a full pardon for every thing you have ever done that is against God. He is telling you that if you will but trust Him as your Saviour, all those crimes will be erased and you will suffer no punishment.

Sadly, too many people make the same choice Mr. Wilson did, and they end up suffering the judgement of their crimes. What are you going to do with your pardon? Are you going to accept it or are you going to reject it? Have you weighed the consequences of each choice?

John was Preaching “Repent or Die”/ Jesus said “Repent and Live – here's how”
With John it was all about response./  Jesus lay down his life first – for us.
Judgement/     Pardon

With John – if you feel you are unworthy you can't receive what God wants to give
With Jesus you can accept God's pardon just because you know there is no other way to life.

That's a bit “theological” isn't it? What about real life, now? What difference does it make?

There are two ways to punctuate John's message (Interestingly it is often presented differently in the Gospel from how it is in Isaiah whom John is quoting).
The voice of one crying in the desert: Make straight the way of the Lord”
Do you think that we, as Christians, are outside of our society – keeping ourselves pure and aloof from the sins that pervade it so that we can call people out in repentance before the Lord comes in judgement?
The voice of one crying: In the desert make straight the way of the Lord”
Or do you think that we are completely engaged with our society, in the dry and dusty places of sin and strife like everyone else, and seeking to change it so that the Lord can return?
In a way John the Baptist operated in the first way – calling people out into the desert communities like the Essenes. He was sceptical of those who just popped out for a Baptism.
But Jesus is more like the latter. He is the incarnate God. He comes down to earth from heaven. He ate with sinners. He liked sinners. He changed sinners. He recruited sinners. He trusted sinners.

Both of these are true.
It's not either or. Its both and.
Which bit of the desert are you in?

How are you going to cry out this week?
Can you make a straight path for the Lord into your bit of the desert?

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