Third Sunday in Advent 8:30 a.m. Sermon

Third Sunday in Advent
Sunday, December 11, 2022
By: Deacon Ben Remmert
Isaiah 35:1-10 James 5:7-10 Matthew 11:2-1

Grace and peace to you from our Lord and Savior, Jesus who is the Christ child. Amen.

Two of our readings this morning surround us with the call to be patient! Patience in life and upon the coming of Christ. If you have difficulty being patient in either area, especially during this time of the year, then this message is for you.

John the Baptizer, the man called and assigned to be the prophet who would prepare the way for the Lord, finds his freedom has been restrained. But this is not the reason why He prepared all those years to be the Messiah’s witness. John wants to be out there in the world, continuing to spread the news of repentance and the good news of the coming Savior. Yet, with all his desire to serve the Lord, John finds himself restrained. In John’s mind, this restraint should not be happening for you see, Jesus the Messiah was now out and about, so surely He would free John from prison.

How can we apply this message to our life? Let’s say you lose your keys and thus you can’t get in your house/car. This messes with your entire day. You had plans to clean the house, run errands, pick up the kids, get your haircut, and basically get things ready for your evening, but all these plans are put on hold. And so, you call your spouse, or friend who has a spare set of keys, and tell them of your predicament. When you relay the message and your situation, you can calm down a bit. But then an hour goes by and you’re still locked out. The keys have yet to have been delivered. What will start to go through your mind, during such a situation? How patient would you be able to be if your time to complete your tasks is cut shorter than anticipated? How patient would you be with your spouse or friend?

I know of many people, including myself, that would in one degree or another, become a bit unstable. I am usually a person that wants to get from point “A” to point “B” as quickly as possible. And if something impedes my journey, especially if I am in a hurry, I admit that I can become a prisoner of panic and a slave to impatience.

When you are in the prison of panic, you can lose all sense of reality. When impatience starts to control you, all bets are off. You can start to worry. You can begin to stress out and you can become angry. Think upon the situation with the lost keys. What would they be thinking after waiting outside for an hour, for their keys to arrive? Maybe something like, “Where are they, where are my keys, what is taking so long?” “They know I am in a hurry, don’t they care?” When things are going well and you are not rushed, you would most likely not have such thoughts. You would still think of your friend/spouse as trustworthy. You would most likely have no doubt that your keys would get there, eventually. But when you are under a time constraint, you might start to question your spouse/friend’s ability to come through in the clutch. You might wonder if that person cares enough about you to aid you in a time of crisis.

This must have been exactly what John was going through. If you remember, not too long ago, John knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus was indeed the Messiah. He said to Jesus, “I am unworthy to even tie your shoes, it should be you to baptize me.” But now, John is in prison and all his certainties are going right out the window. He has, currently, lost patience and at the very least, doubts that Jesus really is the Messiah. Maybe he was thinking in this way, “If Jesus was the Messiah, he would get me out of this prison. He would see to my needs. He would come through for me!

And so, John calls upon his disciples to find Jesus and ask him, “Are you the one who was to come, or shall we expect another?

Talk about being in prison! The greatest prison we can ever get ourselves into is the prison of panic, especially if it causes you to doubt, or think negatively of a loved one. But that is exactly what we do when we allow our impatience to consume us. We can forget God oversees the situation and God gives peace to calm our distraught spirit.

Jesus knew of John’s plight. He knew John was in prison. So, Jesus gave to John what He also gives to us when we find ourselves in a moment of impatience. In our text this is what Jesus said to John, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.

Jesus’ words gave John the sure and certain patience that he needed to get through his panic. Jesus helped John to know peace and he was indeed in control. Jesus helps John see past himself and see how God is acting in the world. Jesus does the same for us and call us to witness God in action in the world, especially when we are not able to do so.

When we become trapped in the prison of panic, when our impatience just seems to be adding more fuel to our despair or anger, the same words that Jesus spoke to John can release us from our prisons as well. That is what Jesus ultimately conveyed to John. “I, Jesus, am in control! I am healing, aiding, and preaching the Gospel, and nothing can stand in my way.” This is what God now conveys to us.

James writes, “You too, stand patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.” Again, as we wait for the day of our Lord’s return, we are assured that God is still in control and that control is active not passive. Jesus is actively coming near, and nothing is impeding him. For you and I, Jesus is actively feeding us with His Word and with His Holy Spirit, and this happens whenever we hear the Word of God or receive the gift of the Eucharist.

James says, “Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.” In other words, stay in the Word of God, let it speak to you the same way that Jesus spoke to John. When it does, you will find that you will no longer be a prisoner of panic or a slave of impatience. And remember, the greatest comfort that God’s Word brings to us, is the one that reminds us that our sins, like those of impatience, have all been forgiven.

In the precious name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, this is God’s Word to all people. Amen.