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The Fourth Sunday in Advent, December 24, 2023

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The Fourth Sunday in Advent, December 24, 2023

John the Baptizer delivers an “I am” claim.  We are most familiar with Jesus and his assertive claims “I am the Bread… I am the living Water….” These all follow the great claim elicited by Moses from God speaking out of the burning bush.  Moses had inquired, “Who shall I tell them has sent me?”  God answered, “Tell them ‘I am’ has sent you” (Ex. 8:13-14).  John the Baptizer makes his claim in response to being questioned by agents of the Pharisees.  They had demanded, “What do you have to say for yourself?”  John answers, “I am… I am the voice… I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness…”  John had come, as had the prophet Isaiah, to “make straight the way of the Lord” (vs. 23).  John came as a preacher… a preacher on a special mission… a preacher come to clear the way for the coming of the Lord… a preacher come to prepare people’s ears for the arrival of the Incarnate Word of God.

John the Baptizer bears witness to this himself.  When pressed by those agents of the Pharisees, John gives witness to “the one who stands among them” (cf. vs 26).  This “one” who comes after John stands so far above John that John is not even worthy to untie his sandals.  This “one” is Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Word of God.  John bears witness to him and announces, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (Jn. 1:29).

John the Baptizer stands at the headwaters of the mighty river that is the preaching of Jesus Christ, who is the Incarnate Word of God.  John, sent by God… Jesus, sent by God… the apostles, sent by Jesus… your preacher, sent by the Holy Spirit… all called and sent to accomplish one task:  to bear witness to the forgiveness of sins for the sake of Jesus Christ.  To accomplish this task, your preacher must prepare the way of the Lord, empty your ears of false, deceiving, and competing words, and deliver to you the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

Table Talk:   Discuss the importance of continuity in the preaching of the gospel. 

Pray:  Father, open my ears to hear the good news.  Amen

John 1:19-28

19 And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who are you? 20 He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, I am not the Christ. 21 And they asked him, What then? Are you Elijah? He said, I am not. Are you the Prophet? And he answered, No. 22 So they said to him, Who are you? We need to give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself? 23 He said, I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as the prophet Isaiah said.

24 (Now they had been sent from the Pharisees.) 25 They asked him, Then why are you baptizing, if you are neither the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet? 26 John answered them, I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know, 27 even he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie. 28 These things took place in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing.


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