Reflections: The Fourth Sunday in Advent

Today’s Reading: John 1:19-28

Daily Lectionary: Isaiah 40:1-17; Revelation 7:1-17

And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?”  He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” (John 1: 19-20)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. I love Advent. I love preaching about John the Baptizer preparing the way of the Lord and preaching repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 

John knew who he was. He knew his purpose was to point to the Lamb of God who came to take away the sin of the world (John 1:29). He did not try to ride on Christ’s coat tails. He did not try to carve out a higher place for himself. John was confident about two things. He said, “I am not the Christ” and he knew he was not worthy to untie the strap of Jesus’ sandals. 

A very wise pastor once told me there are really only two things one needs to know to be a faithful pastor. The first is that there is one God who forgave your sins through His Son Jesus on the Cross. The second, and most important is, that you are not Him! When we keep that in mind things are easier. 

Pride often gets us into trouble. Taking pride in your work or your family is a good thing. But pride takes a dangerous turn when we elevate or trust in ourselves. Check out the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector in Luke 18.

Jesus said of John, “I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John” (Luke 7:28). That is high praise! And yet John did not let that accolade go to his head. John preached repentance, and he preached the Law, so people would see Jesus as their only hope and Savior. 

John, being the last of the Old Testament prophets and the first of the New, knew who Jesus was. Savior, Redeemer, the perfect and complete sacrifice for your pride and arrogance. He also knew his own sin. He was not worthy to untie Jesus’ Converse. 

John’s boldness in preaching and pointing was not to elevate himself. It was to open blind eyes to the reality of sin and death. His preaching pointed to a long hoped-for promise of a Messiah. His preaching brought comfort, comfort to all like us who know our sin and cling confidently to our Savior, His Cross, and our forgiveness. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. 

Stir up Your power, O Lord, and come and help us by Your might, that the sins which weigh us down may be quickly lifted by Your grace and mercy; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (Collect for the Fourth Sunday in Advent)

Rev. Randy Sturzenbecher is pastor of Divine Shepherd Lutheran Church, Black Hawk, SD. He is also the vice president of Higher Things.

Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch