Gospel: John 1:6-8, 19-28
Epistle: 1Thessalonians 5:16-24
Lesson: Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11
Psalm: Psalm 126
CLB Pastors Network – Rev. Dale Hanson
The first chapter of John has that great Genesis like beginning – “in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
Some of the church fathers pointed out: “This describes for us not only divine self-expression but the pre-existence of Christ. The Father was never without the Word, but he was always God with God, yet Each in His proper Person. We are speaking of God; what marvel if you do not comprehend? For if you comprehend, He is not God . . . to reach to God in any measure by the mind, is a great blessedness; but to completely comprehend Him, is altogether impossible.”
John came to bear witness about the Light. It is not John but Jesus Christ who is the Light of the world. Through the Light and only through Him, do we come to saving faith.
John is announcing a new exodus. God will now deliver His people from sin’s captivity through His Son.
Make it clear; pronounce it boldly – whoever believes in Jesus will be saved from all their sins and have eternal life; be it with a strong or with a weak faith. Our salvation does not depend on the greatness or smallness, the weakness or strength of faith. Instead, it depends on Christ’s merit and work.
Verses 19 to 28 teach the importance of the means of grace – baptism. The proper emphasis on the means of grace is so necessary. We are to point people to God’s Word and His sacraments as the way to receive forgiveness and salvation. This is God’s chosen way. Read about this point in Walther’s book, Law & Gospel – How to Read and Apply the Bible: in his sixteenth and seventeenth evening lectures. I have notes on it in my Renewal of Preaching series on the Pastor’s Network.
Advent is a great time to announce that the Savior of the world has come; look to him and your soul can rest. Remember that preaching the gospel is all about announcing good news! Make it good news and not just good advice! Someone has suggested that during Advent it is a good time to make your sermons short and to the point; sort of as your Christmas gift to the congregation. (It is much more difficult to preach a short sermon well than a long one so you will need work harder on the preparation which is also a gift to your congregation.
Preach well, brothers, the very lives of your congregational members depends on it.
References and quotes taken from The Lutheran Study Bible
Interpretation of Saint John’ s Gospel
“All witness is intended for faith, and so the Baptist testified ‘in order that all might believe through him.’ This comprehensive ‘all’ includes all who went out in the wilderness and with their own ears heard the testimony. But it does not stop with these multitudes — ‘he being dead yet speaketh’ (Heb.11:4), and his testimony reaches out into the wide world. Just as no limitations restricted the Baptist’s saving purpose when his living voice rang out in the wilderness of Palestine, so no limitations now narrow it. That all may believe is the good and gracious will of God which is universal in extent, excluding not a single sinner; it is also called his antecedent will to distinguish it from the subsequent will which becomes effective when men finally reject the gospel and is summarized in Christ’s own words, ‘he that believeth not shall be damned.”
Lenski, C.H., Interpretation of Saint John Gospel. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Publishing House, 1943.
People’s Bible Commentary – John
“Some Pharisees who were also sent, apparently apart from the priests and Levites, now took up the questioning. The Pharisees might be expected to ask more probing questions than the others because of their position as the religious elite among the Jews. No one knew more about God’s law and religious traditions than a Pharisee. No one seemed to put more effort into keeping God’s law than a Pharisee. If any person could be called holy, surely it must be a Pharisee. The Pharisees were the most outwardly religious people among the Jews and were the religious experts.
They now asked, ‘Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?’ They didn’t seem opposed to baptizing, but wondered if John had the authority to do it. Perhaps they thought back to such a prophecy as ‘I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean’ (Ezekiel 36:25). Maybe this baptizing was the promised cleansing. If so, John must produce his credentials for doing it.
In reply, John again turned the spotlight away from himself and onto Christ. Yes, he, John, baptized with water, and it was a valid baptism that made the people clean just as Ezekiel had prophesied. But the question of his authority was misplaced, for they needed to see someone far more important than he: ‘Among you stands one you do not know. He is the one who comes after me, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.’ Slaves of the day had the duty of loosening their masters’ sandals. John felt unworthy even to be a slave to the Christ.
Baumler, G.P., People’s Bible Commentary – John. St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 1997.