Prepare! Clear the Way for Jesus!

Prepare! Clear the Way for Jesus!

Mark 1:1-8

 My friends, my desire for us for this Advent Season is this: that from us is cleared away everything that divides us from God.  From knowing His Love, from adoring Him.  That is what God’s grace and mercy does, leaving us in His peace.

 Preparing for Christmas Shopping  – Rent a pastor!

It’s time for a Pastor Parker Parable, Advent edition.  As we prepare for the Christmas holidays, for the party’s, and as we buy gifts for people we love, I have an idea that might provide some insight into how the gospel works, using the idea of surviving the shopping, and the incredible crowds.  Here it is:

For a small donation to the elder’s benevolence fund, I will go shopping with you.

Let me explain how this is of a benefit.  I need four volunteers…. One lady and let’s say Dane and Bob and Chuck.  Did I say volunteers?  Well – you’re here, so you volunteered.  You three stand here, and pretend you are talking about football, or guns or even politics, and completely oblivious to what’s going on around you… Oh you are in the middle of a busy store…say Sears or Walmart

Now, over here we have Debbie, tired and weary of trying to find Tom just the right present.  She sees it over there, on the other side of the three guys talking, and there is no way to get through them.  You are out of luck.

But with the Pastor Shopping Assistant, this is problem is no problem at all.  There is an advantage to having a 6’2” pastor dressed in black with his collar.  You point out where you want to go in the store and I walk there, with you following behind.  I navigate through the three men, who aren’t sure they are moving because of the collar, because I am big, or because I look mean and ready to send them to hades, or to the woman’s lingerie section. But move they do…. And you get what you desired.

This is how a pastor can benefit you in your shopping, and the same benefit you get from time in God’s word, whether in a sermon, or Bible Study or personal time reading God’s word!  It’s the same thing we see as John preaches to the people of God and baptizes them as a sign of their repentance.

So the parable is this; pastoral assistance prepares for the appearance of Jesus the Christ!  The way is clear, there is a path to the goal
Getting through that which would separate you from Christ

In our lives, there is much to be cleared out, much that slows us down, junks that stops us from living life in the peace God has given us. It’s the stuff that in Peter’s reading will burn up in the end.

Very few of us are the John the Baptist types, who live off the most basic of things.

I mean, how many of us are willing to take cast-offs to wear, for that’s what he wore for clothes.  Or to eat whatever we came across, as we lived out in the field? We probably can’t find that much raw honey, but there is a good source of protein out there!  His life was pretty well prepared. The way for him has few obstacles…

John preached the message about clearing the crap that gets in the way of our relationship with God.  About clearing the way, making ready the path. He’s not talking about re-tarring the driveway at church, but getting rid of things like bitterness, resentment, anxiety, fears, and sin. He talked getting rid of our idea that we are right, and God just doesn’t know what life today is like.

We do that, when we don’t repent of sin, or when we allow others to think their sin isn’t a major one.   We do it when we make personal comfort our goal, rather than knowing we find our comfort in Christ.  We do it when we criticize others and gossip about them, rather than pray for their soul. We do it, when we don’t help those in need, or when our help is more to soothe our consciousness, rather than actually help them. This is the sin and unrighteousness that we hang on to, we protect, and we are don’t want to give up.   Though that makes very little sense.

All these things need to be cleared away.  Anxiety, fear, sin takes a straight road and turns into the spiritual version of Malibu Canyon road or trying to get one of the Black Friday super-specials.  On our own we stand a better chance of winning three consecutive state lotteries, than in being prepared for Jesus’ second coming.

We need to hear the word of God, we need to hear the John the Baptist, and be cleansed of our sins, of our idols, of the crap that blocks our way to Jesus.  We need to see His promises, we need to have the comfort He has promised, we need to know we are loved.

But there is so much that blocks us from Jesus, so much sin, so much anxiety, just so much!

How will we get it done in time?

Or will we give up and cling to the very things that poison our lives?  The things that stop us from being close to Jesus?
This is the stuff we need to get through, but it is so hard!

Is He there?
That’s where the word of God and the sacraments come into play.  Where a sermon or Bible Study that we are part of reveals Christ’s presence. When we hear the gospel  crushes that which stops us from our time with God.  Where it clears away the things that would block our access to God.   That’s how God’s word works, that is how the Holy Spirit uses it…to ready us for Jesus’s coming

Why else would people treasure it enough to wander out to the desert to hear him?  Why would they listen, what moved their hearts so much they admitted their sin?, Why would they run into the water, demonstrating that the Holy Spirit was at work in their lives, bringing them to repentance?

They gave up the game of being self-righteous, about pointing out the sins of others.  They acknowledged they needed God’s presence, and their lives were cluttered and blocked.  The crud washed away as promised, for and the word of God broke through, much as the 6’2’ 315 pound pastor can break through a crowd in a mall at Christmastime.

I want you to think about the ways Christ’s birth is declared in scripture.  A people living in utter darkness have seen a great life.  A time of healing a time of death being shattered by life, A day of the greatest rejoicing.

If that was true at Christ’s first coming to us, how much more will it be when He returns?

Hear again how Peter said in ( 2 Peter 3:8-14)

We are looking forward to the new heavens and new earth he has promised, a world filled with God’s righteousness.

14 And so, dear friends, while you are waiting for these things to happen, make every effort to be found living peaceful lives that are pure and blameless in his sight.

It is the same concept, know that your life, your vitality is found in Jesus.  That His word reveals all that you need to see that the way is prepared, it has been planned, and for us, the way made sure at the cross, when Jesus died.  It is the blessing of having the gift of the Holy Spirit, given to us in our baptism. It is the blessing of having God’s word tell us of this, over and over again.

For the Spirit grants us repentance, and brings us comfort, and testifies to the promise of the death, burial, resurrection, ascension and return of Christ.

We need to know we have access to God the Father, that there is nothing that blocks us, no amount of crud, nor a temple curtain.  We’ve been invited to His feast, and He’s made sure we can know we are welcome.

Knowing that, we can have the peaceful, pure and blameless lives Peter encourages us to live in, for we dwell in Christ, He has claimed us, and He will get us home.


About justifiedandsinner

I am a pastor of a Concordia Lutheran Church in Cerritos, California, where we rejoice in God's saving us from our sin, and the unrighteousness of the world. It is all about His work, the gift of salvation given to all who trust in Jesus Christ, and what He has done that is revealed in Scripture. God deserves all the glory, honor and praise, for He has rescued and redeemed His people.

Posted on December 7, 2014, in Sermons and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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