2nd Sunday in Advent
Jesus taught his disciples to pray including,
“Your kingdom come,
Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
If Jesus wanted us to pray that and people have been praying it for over 2,000 years – including us…
Wouldn’t you think we might have seen at least this prayer answered by now?
It seems the world is moving in the opposite direction.
U2: Peace on Earth
Heaven on earth
We need it now
I’m sick of all of this
Sick of sorrow
Sick of pain
Sick of hearing again and again
That there’s gonna be
Peace on earth
Jesus, in the song you wrote
The words are sticking in my throat
Peace on earth
Hear it every Christmas time
But hope and history won’t rhyme
So what’s it worth?
This peace on earth Peace on earth, Peace on earth, Peace on earth
Peanuts: Analogy falls down.
John the Baptist prepares the way
In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’ This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah:
‘A voice of one calling in the wilderness,
“Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.” ’
John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt round his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. Confessing their sins, they were baptised by him in the River Jordan.
But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptising, he said to them: ‘You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not think you can say to yourselves, “We have Abraham as our father.” I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The axe has been laid to the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.
‘I baptise you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing-floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.’
John the Baptist appears as some kind of way-out weirdo and it’s amazing that the “people of Jerusalem and all Judea were going out to him”, including Pharisees and Sadducees.
He never tried to big-note himself: his purpose was to prepare the way for the first coming of Jesus as Messiah and Saviour.
Even then he was like a voice crying in the wilderness.
And his message wasn’t a cute, comforting homily but rather: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near”
No one likes being told to repent it implies something is wrong with them; that they need to change; that they are not good enough for the kingdom of heaven.
To the hypocritical religious people, he told them they were
A brood of vipers fleeing from the wrath to come
They were a branch of a tree that was about to be cut down to size
Another was about to come to sort them out with a winnowing fork
They would be separated as chaff from the wheat to be burned with unquenchable fire.
It’s very unfashionable and unpopular but put simply he was saying, “if you don’t repent, you’re going to hell”.
Not long after Jesus also began to preach – but his message was no more palatable: “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is near.” (Mt 4:17)
He, too, offended the Pharisees
‘Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!
Blind guides. Blind fools. Whitewashed tombs. You snakes, brood of vipers.’
Then he says “How will you escape being condemned to hell? “ (Mt 23:23-36)
What are the alternatives? What is the alternative to repentance?
Repentance introduces you to the kingdom of heaven.
Failure to repent leads you to the alternative: hell.
Nobody likes the idea, nobody wants to talk about it, everyone wants to pretend it’s not there.
CS Lewis quote
John the Baptist came to prepare the way, to announce the first coming of Jesus
Now his baton has been passed on to us.
It’s now our job to prepare the way, to announce the coming of Jesus.
That is – his second coming.
Christmas reminds us of his first coming.
The season of advent has the purpose and meaning of announcing his second coming.
Christ has died; Christ has risen; Christ will come again!
Jesus will return to put everything to rights again and judge and destroy all that is distorted and evil as prophesied in the Old Testament (eg Isaiah 11) and we are told about in the book of Revelation.
In the meantime we are encouraged by what we learn in the Bible eg in Romans 15:4
For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.
It is God himself present with us by his Holy Spirit who gives us the endurance and encouragement and gives us the same attitude of mind towards each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
When that is happening it is heavenly!
It is describing the sort of thing promised on Jesus’ return.
It is the sort of thing that happens when God’s will is done on earth as it is in heaven.
We don’t do it perfectly and it is a very rare and wonderful thing when it found at all outside of a group of Christians.
It is a sign of the prayer Jesus taught us is being and will be answered.
In other words, real Christian fellowship is where we are taught from the Bible, are encouraged, find endurance and hope, where we have the same attitude of mind toward each other like Christ’s and where we, with one voice, glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Real Christian fellowship is a taste of heaven!
Luke 2: 14 Peace on earth
‘Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests.’
Now, let’s not let each other down on this! Let’s all read and learn from the Bible, continually encourage each other in endurance, hope and assurance of the presence of Jesus’ Holy Spirit in and with us, enabling us to be like Christ to each other. Let’s be sure we glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ not only when we sing a few songs here in a church meeting but all the time in all our lives.
The rest of Romans 15 goes on to repeat the prophecy from Isaiah.
Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God’s truth, so that the promises made to the patriarchs might be confirmed and, moreover, that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written:
‘Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles;
I will sing the praises of your name.’
Again, it says,
‘Rejoice, you Gentiles, with his people.’
‘Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles;
let all the peoples extol him.’
That’s what Advent is about…
Sharing the news of Jesus the servant king who was born, crucified, raised from the dead, ascended to be with the Father and who one day will return as King and judge
Both the first and second coming of Jesus was clearly prophesied long ago – eg in Isaiah.
John prepared the way for Jesus’ first coming
Revelation is all about his second coming
We are to prepare the way for his second coming
Which means share this news with the Gentiles – which means, for us, our relatives, friends, neighbours, the rest of Australia and into the world.
This is so that as we praise God in our community and sing praises of his name then so will others so come to love Jesus that they, too, praise the Lord, all you Gentiles.
In our Christian fellowship we see glimpses of our prayer being answered: “your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”
One day our prayer will be fully answered at Jesus’ second coming as we find ourselves in the new heaven and new earth which Jesus will bring
So we go on encouraging each other in Jesus
And we share with those around us the good news of Jesus so they escape the condemnation Jesus warned the pharisees of and find themselves with us in the Kingdom of Heaven.