The Glory Has Departed


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Saturday, December 19, 2015

Fourth Sunday in Advent, 2015. John 1:19-28
Who Is John?



The Fourth Sunday in Advent, 2015

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

Christmas Eve Service at 9 PM Central Standard Time



The Hymn #477                                       Lord Jesus Thou             
The Confession of Sins
The Absolution
The Introit p. 16
The Gloria Patri
The Kyrie p. 17
The Gloria in Excelsis
The Salutation and Collect p. 19
The Epistle and Gradual       
The Gospel              
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn #90  Gerhardt                  Come, Your Hearts              

After Is the One Before

The Hymn # 103 – Luther                               To Shepherds             
The Preface p. 24
The Sanctus p. 26
The Lord's Prayer p. 27
The Words of Institution
The Agnus Dei p. 28
The Nunc Dimittis p. 29
The Benediction p. 31
The Hymn #95                                    Savior of the Nations              

KJV Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. 5 Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. 6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

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.



Fourth Sunday In Advent

Lord God, heavenly Father, it is meet and right that we should give thanks unto Thee, that Thou hast given us a more glorious baptism than that of John the Baptist, and hast therein promised us the remission of sins, the Holy Spirit, and everlasting life through Thy Son, Jesus Christ: Preserve us, we beseech Thee, in such faith in Thy grace and mercy, that we may never doubt Thy promise, but be comforted by the same in all temptations: and grant us Thy Holy Spirit that we may renounce sin, and ever continue in the righteousness bestowed upon us in baptism, until by Thy grace we obtain eternal salvation, through the same, Thy beloved Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

After Is the One Before

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.

The Advent season seems to be more about John than Jesus, but there is a reason. John is pivotal for showing the prophet Isaiah to be correct. There was great interest in the prophets being fulfilled, and Isaiah's book was especially influential. That means it was read for 700 years or so, and the transition to Gospel  in that book started with the voice crying in the desert - Prepare the way of the Lord.

One sign of liberalism in olden days was to insist on two Isaiahs, because of this big change at Isaiah 40. One WELS professor advocated two Isaiahs and the liberals administration stood behind him. He continued to be quite influential; those who were dismayed at this were disciplined and told to keep quiet.

So one might say that - as Isaiah goes, so goes the synod. Missouri has had many teachers, pastors, and DPs like this - all tolerated and promoted. The ELS had a professor denying a specific prophesy applied to Christ, and the bosses shielded and supported him. Since the three "conservative" synods latched onto the old NIV, which is now considered a classic, the New NIV is even more biased against the faith and is equally supported and promoted. Participants in both were rewarded for their work, and it was considered a great honor. "It must be a good translation, our guys helped out."

Look for notes at the bottom of a modern translation. "A Virgin shall conceive..." A note at the bottom says or "A young woman will conceive..." One is a miracle, the other is a birth announcement.

The is only one prophet Isaiah and the book is unified. What makes this lesson so remarkable is the identification of the voice crying in the wilderness with John. If John is that voice, then the Messiah is coming immediately.

1. With many words the Evangelist describes and magnifies the testimony of John. Although it would have been sufficient if he had written of him, “He confessed,” he repeats it and says, “He confessed and denied not.”

This was surely done in order to extol the beautiful constancy of John in a sore trial, when he was tempted to a flagrant denial of the truth. And now consider the particular circumstances.

2. First, there are sent to him not servants or ordinary citizens, but priests and Levites from the highest and noblest class, who were Pharisees, that is to say, the leaders of the people. Surely a distinguished embassy for a common man, who might justly have felt proud of such an honor, for the favor of lords and princes is highly esteemed in this world.

3. Secondly, they sent to him not common people, but citizens of Jerusalem, to wit, the capital, the sanhedrim, and the leaders of the Jewish nation. So it was as if the entire people came and did honor to him. What a wind that was! and how he might have been inflated, had he possessed a vain and worldly heart!

4. Thirdly, they do not offer him a present, nor ordinary glory, but the highest glory of all, the kingdom and all authority, being ready to accept him as the Christ. Surely a mighty and sweet temptation! For, had he not perceived that they wished to regard him as the Christ, he would not have said, “I am not the Christ.” And Luke 8:15-16, also writes that, when everybody thought he was the Christ, John spoke, “I am not he who you think I am, but I am being sent before him.”

So this was indeed the decisive turn for all time. The waiting was over. The Messianic Age was beginning. The hope was so great in John that the finest citizens were sent to see if he were indeed the Messiah.

So we have a mutual confession - John saying Jesus is the Messiah, and Jesus saying John is the voice crying in the wilderness, the greatest prophet of all. Luther observed that John had the toughest prophetic role, because John had to point to an ordinary looking man and say "He is the Messiah." Moreover, this true Messiah was not what anyone expected. Anyone can imagine someone great and thrilling from the Old Testament prophesies, but to point to an ordinary person Who walked among the people shielding His divinity, that was tough and even more demanding of faith in the Word.

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. 

One might say these leaders are double-tongued and double-minded. There would certainly be hope that John himself was the Messiah, so the ideal for trickery would be for him to deny Jesus and affirm himself as the Messiah.  There were many hopes about prophets in the age of the Messiah, so they asked about this. They wanted to paint him as they wanted him to be, but he did not deny Jesus or let himself be described by them. Instead, he confessed he was the voice crying in the wilderness, which was both electrifying and alarming for the leaders - as the miracles of Jesus were.

The effect of this exchange is to show the dual role of John and Jesus. John is not any prophet, not generic, not Elijah, but that One Prophet Who Announces and Identifies the Messiah. Jesus is not just another teacher, but the Messiah who says indeed that John is that One Prophet. And Jesus is baptized and called God's only begotten Son.

Isaiah 40 - " He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.
14. I am of the opinion that Malachi spoke of no other Elijah than John, and that Elijah the Tishbite, who went up to heaven with the chariot of fire, is no more to be expected. To this opinion I am forced first and foremost by the words of the angel Gabriel, Luke 1:17, who says to John’s father, Zacharias: “And he shall go before his face in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to walk in the wisdom of the just.” With these words the angel manifestly refers to the prophecy of Malachi, adducing even the words of the prophet, who also says that Elijah is to turn the hearts of fathers to children, — as cited above. Now then, if Malachi had meant another Elijah, the angel doubtless would not have applied these words to John.

15. In the second place, the Jews themselves of old understood Malachi to speak of Christ’s coming into the flesh. Therefore they here ask John whether he is Elijah, who is to come before the Christ. But they erred in thinking of the original and bodily Elijah. For the purport of the text is indeed that Elijah is to come beforehand, but not that same Elijah. We do not read, Elijah the Tishbite is to come, as the Bible calls him in 1 Kings 17:1 and 2 Kings 1:13 but merely Elijah, a prophet. This Gabriel, Luke 1:17, explains as meaning, “In the spirit and power of Elijah,” saying, as it were, He will be a real Elijah. Just as we now say of one who has another’s manner and carriage, He is a true!; as I may say e.g., The Pope is a real Caiaphas; John was a real St. Paul. In the same manner does God through Malachi promise one who is to be a true Elijah, i.e. John the Baptist.

Because Advent is a season of repentance, the focus is on John preaching a message of repentance. The common portrait of the prophet is one preaching against sin, so people immediately think of carnal sin. But what did John preach about? Believing in Jesus as the Messiah. The sin is unbelief. Many - but not all - Jewish leaders did not believe in Jesus and raged against Him. The more He showed Himself the Messiah, the greater their fear and hatred.

The great evil of our time is lack of faith and a rejection of faith in God and His Son.
Outwardly, teaching the modernist rejection of Jesus may not seem so terrible. Like evolution, it can be portrayed as a philosophy we should study and pay attention to. But the real message is evolution rejecting God's Creation, with all the garbage that follows. And the Bible full of errors, with Jesus reduced to the role of a teacher of great merit, with all that follows that repudiation of faith.

When a double-minded and double-tongued pastor chooses the path easiest for him, he is really selecting the way of unbelief. He may not think so, but he is saying, "The synod will love and protect me when God cannot. The synod will feed and house me; God cannot." Likewise, laity fear the wrath of their friends and relatives but have no fear of God. 

That was once a commendation and a condemnation. If someone called himself "God-fearing" it meant that right and wrong really mattered, coming from the Ten Commandments. Having no fear of God or the consequences to individuals - even entire denominations - that is the greatest condemnation for any person. To care about a temporary institution and not about the eternal Word? What an unbelieving coward!

No surprise - we see this in secular politics too. The most obvious correct choice is tossed aside by the very people chosen to make the correct, wise decisions. They are not leaders. They are following the mainline liberals who radicalized their church bodies while still naming Jesus when convenient.

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.

The majesty and power of the Roman Empire was nothing compared to God's prophet and God's Son. At this point the Romans had never lost to any group except the Germans led by Herman the German. That was perhaps a hint of what was to come. Vast armies, wealth, and temples did not prop up the failing empire. The one religion they persecuted with vigor took over, slowly, century after century. My wife was born in the Holy Roman Empire, which was not holy, or German, or really an empire, but the name sounded glorious.

The Russians and the Germans looked at Rome as the model empire. So did the Ottoman Turks. But empires fail and God rules over all.

The most an empire can do is usher in another era for God's Kingdom, as the Roman Empire did with Jesus.

Rome governed the land of Jesus and Roman law executed him for the Jewish leaders who hated Him. Yet that execution was the redemption of the world, the treasure that would be distributed by the Apostles through the Holy Spirit and the Word, planting faith across that failing Empire.

Today people want to deal with this vice and that carnal sin. But it has to start with the very force that kept these evil forces suppressed for years - faith in Christ. Sincere faith keeps us from desiring what is evil, and it is moves us to help our neighbor rather than harm him or allow harm to come to him.

People should heed all the warnings in the Scriptures. They have been fulfilled completely. God allows history to continue, so more will hear His saving Word, but nothing is left to be fulfilled. That should alert people far more than the secular warnings.

Conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary.