December 5, 2020 Pastor: Rev. Dean Kavouras
Verse: Mark 1:1–1:8
Christ Lutheran Church
December 6, 2020
by: Rev. Dean Kavouras
The source of the gospel, which is Jesus Christ Son of God, as it stands written in Isaiah the Prophet, "Behold! I am sending my messenger before you who will prepare your way. A voice thunders: “In the wilderness, prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.'"
Now John appeared baptizing in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins; and all the country of Judea, even those of Jerusalem, went out to him to be baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins.
Now John was clothed with camel's hair with a leather belt around his waist, eating a diet of locusts and wild honey. He preached saying, "In my wake comes the One who is mightier than I the strap of whose sandals I am not fit to kneel down and untie. I baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit. (Mark 1:1-8)
Today the church learns once again WHAT the gospel is, and the SOURCE from whence it comes.
But the gospel is not really a “what” at all but a “who” for it is, and consists of, “Jesus Christ Son of God” which, for St. Mark, is as much title as it is name:
“Jesus Christ Son of God.” The ever-enduring Word of the Lord whose message to us in our present captivity is: “Comfort Comfort Ye My People.”
And as for the source, today’s Scripture lessons provide us with the gospel’s provenance which is the Blessed Holy Trinity, God the Father Son and Holy Spirit.
He is the source of all things visible and invisible. The source of our creation, our preservation, our salvation by the cross, of the Spirit-filled baptismal life that we live each day.
And, perhaps most thrilling of all the source of the life we will live unto the ages of ages when Messiah comes again. The very life that God himself lives! Because while life in this world is temporary, and while “its beauty fades like the flower”, the salvation of the Lord endures forever.
Yes, “The mouth of the Lord has spoken it.” And with faith in that proclamation God’s children can sleep in heavenly peace whatever terrors of the night attempt to assault our sacred and wounded heads.
And one of our best weapons against such assaults are the three crosses we make at the hearing of the gospel: upon the forehead, the lips and the heart, so that all of them are defended by the Lord’s gospel; and what you do here, you can do any place, any time day or night.
Now, in today’s Old Testament lesson we are made privy to the divine conversation when the voice of God the Father says: “Cry out!”
And the voice of the Son of God liturgically replies: “What shall I cry out?”
And again the mighty voice of God the Father answers:
"All flesh is grass.
The grass withers and the flower fades,
but the Word of our God stands forever!"
But it is not only our God who speaks these words, but the Prophet Isaiah as well when he was sent to the Old Testament church, to announce the end of Judah’s warfare. The end of her days as prisoners of war in Babylon. Because by God’s almighty power he would release them, more wonderfully than he allowed them to be taken captive for their sins.
By God’s decree King Cyrus of Persia would conquer the Babylonians, and by the irrevocable “Law of the Medes and Persians” he would rebuild Jerusalem, and pay for it from the royal treasury.
God will do this for you, as well, O captives of sin, death and Satan. Jesus Christ Son of God has liberated you from your captors, by his “blood and righteousness,” and if the Son sets you free you are free indeed! (John 8)
And not only did Isaiah claim God as his source, but so did John the Baptizer by way of Isaiah when, many centuries later, God ordained him to baptize, and to preach a gospel of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
O what precious words: the forgiveness of sins, by which we are revived and made alive again.
We know from St. John’s gospel that when the Baptizer began his ministry many questioned him; and that a delegation was sent from Jerusalem to the uninhabitable wilderness to question John as to his credentials.
When they did he names the Prophet Isaiah, and quotes him, as his warrant to do the things he was doing. And, Lo and Behold, his answer was of such brilliant power that they who came to extort a confession out of John, instead confessed their own sins, were baptized by him, and looked for the One who is greater than John. He who is of immeasurable worth, of whom the camel-covered Baptizer was not worthy to kneel down before him, to untie the laces of his sandals.
We, too, have been so convicted by the truth and power of the gospel; of our baptism; and of the Holy Spirit whom we received in it, that we too confess our sins, believe the gospel of absolution, and confess Jesus Christ Son of God with our lips as we partake of Holy Communion this day.
For, finally, “Jesus Christ Son of God” is the gospel of our salvation. He is remission not of cancer, but of cancer’s cause, which is sin! He is the voice of liberty that we long to hear as we live in the captivity of corrupt culture, and the weakness of the flesh.
Ah, but not only weakness, Dear Children, the complete compromise of our minds, affections, intellects and wills.
We affirm with St. Paul, “I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is in my flesh.” (Rom. 7)
Yes, though we are baptized, and bound for heaven by God’s grace; and not by our own accomplishments which are like “polluted garments;"(Is. 64:6) we still need the ongoing power of our baptism in the Holy Spirit, which our Lord Jesus Christ has granted us.
And we still need the Sacrament of Absolution which we engage in every Sunday by which we unburden ourselves; throw off the shackles of sins; and emerge pure and fresh with new power and new joy.
And we still need to look with eager hearts to the Lord’s return in which according to St. Peter: “the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the elements that constitute them will be burned up and dissolved. Then the earth and the works that are done upon it will be exposed.”
Yes, it will all disappear, only to be replaced a New Heaven and a New Earth in which righteousness dwells; and where Jesus is Lord of all. That is the Day we eagerly await. The Day we hasten as we conduct ourselves in holiness and godliness. Without spot or blemish, and in peace. Amen.