The Word of God disrupts our lives
Second in a series, “The Disruptive Word”
Mark 1:1-8 // 2 Peter 3:8-14 // Isaiah 40:1-11
Grace, mercy, and peace to you from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Our sermon text for today is Mark 1:1-8, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness, prepare the way of the Lord”
Last Sunday, we considered how God’s Word disrupts our fear and fatalism. Last Wednesday, we considered how God’s Word disrupts us to our very core.
Today, we consider how, when the Word of God is fulfilled, it disrupts our lives. It doesn’t leave us the same. It changes things.
The biggest events of life are never convenient. The biggest events of life don’t let you schedule them around other stuff. The biggest events of life force you to move all of your other little plans so that the biggest thing can be the biggest thing. As a pastor, I know this all too well. You can’t schedule how long your loved one has left on earth. You can’ tell your daughter that she better schedule her wedding on a day you don’t have golf. You can’t tell your wife to have the baby on a Tuesday and not during the big meeting I have. It just doesn’t work that way. The biggest events of life are never convenient, because the biggest events of life disrupt everything else, and force you to move all of your other little plans so that the biggest thing can be the biggest thing.
With that, we go to our text. The Word of God disrupted the lives of the people in John the Baptizer’s day. Isaiah the prophet’s words in Chapter 40 are fulfilled in the coming of John the Baptizer. Something was happening in the world that had not happened before even from the beginning of all time until now.
From the time of the prophet Malachi until John’s day, for 400 years, there had been no prophets, but now a prophet was among the people of Israel, and more than that, THE prophet, the one who was to be a second Elijah, who was the fulfillment of prophecy walked among them, whom Jesus called the greatest man to ever walk the earth, John the Baptizer.
This was one of the greatest events of all time. What would it feel like to live at a time like that? So, what did people do? It changed their lives. Like the phenomenon that he was, John the Baptizer drew them out from their homes to hear him preach in the desert by the River Jordan. It disrupted their day to day lives to go out into the wilderness and see John. It took them out of their normal pattern to set aside time and see him.
And more than that. It wasn’t just the disruption of their day to day life. The message of John went deeper. He proclaimed a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. They came to repent.
And what is repentance if not to change your ways, to go a different way, to see the harmful, sinful patterns you have fallen into and to walk a different direction.
And more than that. We find that John, the greatest prophet to live, the one who was foretold by Isaiah, the second Elijah, says that there is one who comes who is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. (This was the lowest job on the job chart). John says, I’m just the hors d’oeuvre; there’s a main course coming up. I’m just the warm up. The main act is on the way. I may be washing you with the pinnacle of Old Testament rituals, but the one who comes, Jesus Christ, will command you to go and baptize all nations with the Holy Spirit.
Now, you might be thinking, “Well, Pastor, if I had lived in days like that, it certainly would be easier to live out my faith.” “If I could have been one to go and see John the Baptizer or follow Jesus as one of his disciples, life would definitely be different.” In response to that, I would say, “Perhaps.” But even if you lived on that mountaintop of an experience, still at some point, you’d have to descend to the plain. You’d have to go back to the city. Still you’d begin to have a day-to-day pattern again.
What day-to-day patterns have you fallen into that need to be disrupted by God’s Word? What not-so-healthy ways have you fallen into that have turned from a choice into a pattern, from a pattern into a habit? Or, what do you need to repent of?
Perhaps it’s your consumption of alcohol during this pandemic. It started because you felt like you needed it to cope. It’s gotten worse and worse and it has to stop. Perhaps it’s your anger, especially toward your spouse. You know in your heart that they aren’t the problem, but you’re taking it out on them. Perhaps it's a pattern of hopelessness. You can’t see the light. You can’t find a bright spot in all of this. You don’t know how to get out. You need something to break up the pattern.
I have chunk of concrete in my office, on my shelf. It’s from right in front of the church, the old sidewalk right in front where the old doors were. The sidewalk was in good shape at the time, but we had to break it up. It looked good... except. Deep blow the surface of the concrete, we had a problem with water. Below the surface, in a place not readily seen, there was a problem, and the only way to get to the problem? Break up the concrete.
And I tell you that to tell you this. Often, the Word of God disrupts things in our lives that seem to be going well. It disrupts what appear to be good things, because of deep issues it will bring to light.
What good things in your life need to submit to Jesus Christ and his gospel? What needs to be broken up so that the gospel is brought to bear?
Advent is the changing of the season, a time of repentance and reflection, a time to change our ways, a time to let the Word of God disrupt the pattern of our lives once again.
Because the pure and simple Gospel is that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, has died for your sins; he has been raised for your life; he has sealed you with his Holy Spirit in your baptism, and his Gospel orders your whole life around him.
The pure and simple Gospel is preached in its purity right here, in our Sanctuary. It’s taught right here in our Bible studies. It never changes, but it comes fresh to us every time that it disrupts the patterns that we fall into. It comes fresh every time we have ears to hear it again.
Jesus Christ died, and more than that, was raised from the dead so that the sin-filled patterns of this world have no power of you. His word of forgiveness sets you free from every sin which clings so closely and temptation that would entangle. His body and his blood give strength like none other, so that you might meet the days ahead in hope.
Amen and amen.
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