Lutheran Worship and Resources



Traditional Lutheran worship services, using The Lutheran Hymnal and the KJV.

Norma Boeckler, Artist-in-Residence

The Lutheran Library Publishing Ministry

Bethany Lutheran Worship on
Ustream - Sunday, 10 AM CDT.


Midweek Lenten - 7 PM Central Daylight.

Saved worship files and Greek lessons are at the live worship link.

email: greg.jackson.edlp@gmail.com,
which works asgregjacksonedlp@gmail.com too.

Luther's Sermons, Lenker Series
Book of Concord Selections
Martin Chemnitz Press Books

Norma A. Boeckler Author's Page

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson's Author's Page

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Mid-Week Advent Service.
John 1:19-28

By Norma Boeckler


Mid-Week Advent Vespers


The Christmas Eve service will be at 7 PM Central.
We will be traveling south to be with our son’s family on Christmas Day,
so there will not be a Christmas Day service.

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

http://www.ustream.tv/channel/bethany-lutheran-worship

Bethany Lutheran Worship, 7 PM Phoenix Time

The Hymn # 552                 Abide with Me            2:11
The Order of Vespers                                             p. 41
The Psalmody                   Psalm 92                    p. 143
The Lection                            John 15:1-10

The Sermon Hymn #645            Behold a Branch            2:2

The Sermon – Pointing to Christ

The Prayers
The Lord’s Prayer
The Collect for Grace                                            p. 45
 The Hymn # 558     All Praise to Thee               2.9

KJV John 1:19 And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou? 20 And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ. 21 And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No. 22 Then said they unto him, Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself? 23 He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias. 24 And they which were sent were of the Pharisees. 25 And they asked him, and said unto him, Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet? 26 John answered them, saying, I baptize with water: but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not; 27 He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe's latchet I am not worthy to unloose. 28 These things were done in Bethabara beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing.

Pointing to Christ


John 1:19 And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou? 20 And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ.

After the previous sermon about John the Baptist, someone said that others foolishly said this – John sent disciples to Jesus because he had lost faith while in prison. That contradicts the plain message of the passage, Matthew 11:2ff. Jesus said John was “more than a prophet,” not the kind of commendation given to someone who lost faith in the Savior.

The faith of John is emphasized in this Gospel lesson for the Fourth Sunday in Advent.
It is from the Gospel of Faith.

John the Baptist had a following, so the religious leaders came to him, asking about his intentions. The civilized world was looking for the Savior, and the Jewish people were especially aware of the predictions about this figure. The throne had passed from the House of David, which was a key sign, since Herod was on the throne. The Star of Bethlehem was seen at the time of Jesus’ birth. Anyone who could count might wonder when the adult Messiah would appear.

John the Baptist reminded everyone of the Old Testament prophets, because he commanded people to repent of their sins and believe in the Savior.

John clearly told the religious leaders, “I am not the Christ.” The tradition then was to anoint the head of the king with oil when he was crowned. That is done with the king or queen of England to this day. (The royal fish is used – whale oil. All whales stranded on the shore belong to the crown.) The word for anointed with oil is Messiah in Hebrew, Christ in Greek. Both are shorthand for The King Anointed with Oil. The Anointed signifies this special figure.

Anointing is now abused by the Enthusiasts as a term to promote whatever they do. Their plays, dramas, and music are “anointed,” meaning “anointed with the Holy Spirit.” They never tire of divorcing the Holy Spirit from the Word. A better commendation would be “faithful to the Word.”

John’s role was not to point to himself but to point to Christ.

21 And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? [Elijah] And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No.  Then said they unto him, Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself? He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias.

Elijah would have been a definite choice, since Elijah was taken up into heaven. He was considered a forerunner to the Messiah.

That prophet was another one expected to appear just before the Messiah began his work. There are large books about Messianic expectations of the time, many of them based upon paradise on earth or freedom from Roman occupation. The political or military expectations led to two revolts after the time of Christ, the Zealot revolt and the Bar Kochba revolt, which led to Jews being banned from the remnants of Jerusalem.

The whole area was laid waste because of false expectations and the power of the Roman Empire. The Roman Empire was defeated only by the Herman the German, luxury, and decadence. Luxury and decadence were the most powerful destructive forces of all.

John identified his mission with Isaiah 40 – the voice of one crying in the desert – Prepare the way of the Lord.

In ancient times (and even in modern times) special efforts were made for the visitation of the monarch. Our imperial president arrives in town and all traffic is stopped at the airport, all streets closed that might interfere with his travel. Every building is prepared. Windows are sealed shut along a parade route. Manhole covers are welded shut.

An imperial train traveled over rough roads in ancient times, so every effort was made to prepare the route, to offer the best possible experience for someone with god-like power.

John was preparing his community for the real Lord. It was essential to get them to begin listening to a faithful prophet, so they would listen to the Gospel of Christ. We heard someone like that many years ago. He was specifically in charge of cleaning things up. He gave a sermon where he identified (not by name) major Christian leaders who were violating the Sixth Commandment. He described a large congregation where every staff member was committing adultery and confessed to it. He was a religious version of the FBI.

But John did not just preaching the Law. He pointed people to the Christ.

24 And they which were sent were of the Pharisees. 25 And they asked him, and said unto him, Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet? 26 John answered them, saying, I baptize with water: but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not; 27 He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe's latchet I am not worthy to unloose. 28 These things were done in Bethabara beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing.

Notice how many Christian leaders point everyone to themselves. They say, “Look at this building I built. Look at the acres of parking lots. Look at all the money we take in.”

What do we find in the Book of Concord and Luther’s writing? They are not concerned with institutions and numbers, but with the Gospel of Christ. If we summarized all the faithful books of those Lutheran Reformation leaders in a phrase, it would be “Here is the Christ. Here is forgiveness. Believe in Him.”

Someone wrote me that a pastor “does not agree with you.” I said, “It only matters if he agrees with the Scriptures and the Book of Concord.” When we start making a person or a denomination the standard, the Word of God is forgotten. People and institutions by nature protect themselves from imagined harm. The Word of God cannot be harmed or damaged in any way.

“Heaven and earth will pass away but My Word shall never pass away.”

It is true that people can twist the Word, but they do that at their own risk. Playing with the divine power of the Word is like the people who play with explosives, thinking they will do some damage. They often leave very little evidence behind of their futile efforts. One man set down a bomb in front of a house. They found his arms and nothing else, because the trigger was too sensitive. Obama’s best friend lost his girlfriend when she blew up an entire brownhouse while working on a bomb meant for others.

The Word remains even if only a few trust its message. But that message is plain and clear for all – Trust in Jesus for righteousness, for He speaks forgiveness in our ears.

I just finished a class last night. The members were supposed to reflect on Psalm 119. It made me sad, because there was so much Law in all those messages, as if being Christian meant obeying, commitment, and keeping all promises. By that I mean Christianity as obedience alone.

I said to them, “We are all born condemned by unbelief. The purpose of the Christian faith is to show us how to find forgiveness for our sins. All ministry is a proclamation of the Gospel of forgiveness, which comes to us through the Word.”


No comments: