Last week Bishop Myers spoke to us about reaching out to others as he discussed the parable of the Lost Sheep
and he spoke of the Pharisees who were complaining that Jesus “receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.”
The Phrarisees complained for they knew not who Jesus was …
a loving God who loves all of His Creation.
And this morning, we celebrate the Nativity of John the Baptist.
He who was related to Jesus through their mothers.
He who began to teach in the (15) fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar . . . around A.D. 29.
John served as a forerunner of the Messiah, as he was to prepare the people for the coming of Jesus.
He fulfilled the Elijah-like role of calling the nation to repentance, he baptized as a sign of repentance.
Jesus identification was made known as John baptized Jesus:
“Behold the lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” AND
“I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him.” Jh. 1:32
Some had said that John the Baptist was Elijah reincarnated?
Ssome of the scribes even predicted that Elijah would return before the coming of the Messiah;
however, it was not Elijah himself who was to return.
But, someone like Elijah was to appear, and that person was John the Baptist.
He became quite famous in his own right
as he ended up having followers in distant lands,
Information about him was even written outside the New Testament. (Josephus)
Even today, we can learn lessons from John:
When quizzed by tax-collectors and soldiers about what they needed to do, to be right with God – what shall we do?.
John told the soldiers “Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsly, and be content with your wages” [Lk. 3:12-14].
And to the tax collectors he said “Exact no more than that which is appointed to you.”
Although known as the Baptizer, his life – was of devotion and surrender to Christ.
John’s voice became a “lone voice in the wilderness” (John 1:23) as he proclaimed the coming of the Messiah,
to a people, who were dangerously lost and needed a Savior.
Even today he is still a good example of an evangelist – who shared the good news of Jesus Christ.
John was the first prophet called by God, since Malachi, some 400 years earlier;
and of his coming, it was foretold over 700 earlier by another prophet:
For in Isaiah 40 we read of:
“The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, prepare ye the way for the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill made low;
And the crooked shall be made Straight
and the rough places plain.
And the ** Glory of the LORD ** SHALL be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.
For the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.
As an adult, John’s life was rugged in the mountainous area of Judea, between the city of Jerusalem and the Dead Sea.
His clothes were of camel’s hair, with a leather belt,
His diet was simple — locusts and wild honey (Matthew 3:4).
the typical life and garb of a prophet.
His life was focused on the kingdom – which was set before him.
His ministry grew in popularity, as recounted in Matthew 3:5–6:
“People went out … Confessing their sins, and they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.”
John warned others that what they had seen and heard from him was just the beginning (sort of like; you ain’t seen nothing yet!!!!.)
John was a simple messenger who was proclaiming the truth.
His message (?): could not have been more clear and precise: “Repent, for
the kingdom of heaven is near”
oh yes, so very near….
And John tells his follower’s that:
“He (Jesus) must become greater; (and) I must become less” (John 3:30).
So, from this date forward till The Nativity of our Lord in December the days will become shorter – less long … OK, now
Let us cut through the chase and connect this reading today – with last week’s when it was said
“he eateth with sinners”
As Jesus approached John to be baptized,
John knew that the sinless Son of God
needed no baptism of repentance…
(and certainly John had to feel not worthy to baptize his own Savior!)
To this concern, Jesus replies to John’s hesitation:
by saying He desired baptism
“to fulfill all righteousness.”
Jesus, here was identifying Himself, with those very sinners,
“the ones He did eateth with,”
because these sinners are the ones for which He would ultimately give himself over to death –
totally and completely, so as to become the cure for their dreadful disease (and ours,) called sin.
Just as did John, we Christian know that the Messiah is coming.
For this reason we all must “prepare ye the way.”
And as the good shepherd last week searched for the lost sheep,
Isaiah foretells that: 40:11
He shall feed his flock like a shepherd, he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and he shall gently lead … (them)
Although the journey home can be difficult, the road being crooked shall be made straight: as our Faith sustains and guides us home.
So come, and be refreshed, let us be fed
Via the Sacraments of His Church.
For very truly,
in a few minutes you will receive the grandest gift – ever given to mankind.
So hear these words:
“Behold the Lamb of God, behold Him who takest away the sin of the world.
Lord I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof, and all together we will reply: speak the word only and my soul shall be healed.
The hour cometh and now is…….