Sermon for 2nd Sunday in Advent, 12/06/2020

Isaiah 40:1-11; Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13; 2nd Peter 3:8-15; Mark 1:1-8


Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare he way for our salvation. Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen

Our psalmist this morning point out something that most people do not think is a possibility. Simply put: “Suffering is not something to be endured one time and then forgotten.” God’s people may endure repeated suffering as God deals with us in a world dominated by sin. Suffering, however, does not last forever, but God’s righteousness and salvation do. Any time we go through a suffering time, we need a revival of our spiritual nature and recommit ourselves to the covenant we have with God and seek His intervention on our behalf. The power of a holy, revival life is great, and it comes when God’s people seek forgiveness of our sins and obtain a new sense of God’s presence and love. Three characteristics of God are used here almost synonymously. Salvation means God in His faithfulness has renewed His covenant love with His people through righteous acts which restore the peace and welfare of His people.

Of course it is hard to overlook the fact that many were still in Exile in Babylon, though God was about to liberate them in a way no one expected. God never forgets His people. Furthermore, we also see the coming of the Messiah, preceded by “Voice of one calling in the in the desert,” to prepare the way for the Lord, which the early Christians recognized as John the Baptist. John characterizes by portraying Jesus as he Good Shepherd. Christians as recipients of such car must also learn to care in their tasks of making ready the climactic royal appearance.

In Paul’s 2nd letter to the church the people had begun to wonder if Christ was ever coming back. Some thought He was coming shortly after Jesus was crucified, dead, and arose again. Others thought it would be later on, but were not sure when. This letter was written about a generation after Jesus had returned to the Kingdom. Teachers began appearing and their teaching was not that of which Christ had taught and they were stretching their story, from a lack of understanding of Christ and His teachings and began to “fill in the blanks” in their own understanding. The readers knew the truth, but they needed to be reminded of it, just as each and every one of us needs reminding and for the same reasons. The delay is due to to patient grace to allow everyone opportunity to repent. Against all scoffing resounds the strong affirmation, “The day of the Lord will come!” For those who might think God has “forgotten” what year it is or what day He was going to send Christ back, do not worry, He will never die and he has forgotten nothing. He lives in eternity, while we still live day to day!

The same love of God that moved Him to send His Son Jesus to become our Savior also prompts Him to be patient in trying to reach every person possible before the end of time. God’s patience and forbearance have been shown in many ways across the ages. The future day of the Lord will bring a cataclysmic end to the heavens and the earth. It will spell the end of the present reign of evil. Nothing will escape through concealment. All will b exposed to a judgment of fire.

John pointed to Christ’s superior authority. This, not the birth, was Mark’s beginning point for his Gospel account. In those days, most Ancient Near Eastern civilizations thought of their kings as being sons of he gods by some mythical physical propagation. The New Testament account speaks of Jesus’ sonship to God in an entirely different manner. He was God’s Son by virtue of an eternal relationship.

Gospels are written accounts of Jesus’ life; though they begin and end differently. This is what Mark’s is, but Matthew and Luke used his outline for their gospel accounts and then wrote the focus of what they intended to write to explain their relationship with Christ. Mark used the specific phrase of, “baptism of repentance.” Repent means to “turn around” in both Hebrew (shub) and Greek (metaoeo). Thus baptism became for John and for later Christians’ a sign of tuning one’s whole life around and directing it toward faith in God.

In verse 11 it says, And a voice came from heaven ’You are my son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.’ This passage reveals the love of God the Father for the Son. Jesus came into the world as the expression of God’s love to the world that is lost. Thus, the love of God specifically reaches out from God in heaven to Jesus on earth as the bond that unites them. Love (Greek – agape) is a self-giving love that seeks to give itself away for the benefit of its object, meaning us! It is not a self-seeking love, selfishly looking for something in return. It is a whole-hearted love, holding nothing back. It expresses more than friendship or attachment. It goes beyond emotion, sentiment, or feeling. It expresses creative purpose. Out of the riches of its own resources, it seeks to meet all the need and interests of his object. This kind of love flows from the Father to the Son. That kind of love flows from the Father to the Son. That kind of love also flowed from the Son to the lost of the worlds, as He gave Himself for their salvation.

So what have we learned from these scriptures? That God makes promises and keeps them. He brings them to fruition, when we are ready to accept them. We have learned that He loves us and cares for us, even when we are not sure. He allows suffering for the purpose of learning that in those times we must always turn to Him, repenting of our sins, and restoring our relationship with Him. We have learned that he won’t leave us suffering, but that we might suffer more than just once or twice. We have learned that God is eternal, while we are in the present, though He wants us to learn to look beyond today and towards the day when we are to enter the kingdom. Christ will return and there is an end to the end of sin and evil in this world. We learned that Mark’s beginning of his gospel was not about the birth of Jesus, but about His relationship with the Father. We learned about Agape love, that it seeks the very best for others, without anything in return.

Beloved, the only question now is, are we showing this agape love towards others that we come into contact with? Do you see someone experiencing through suffering and reach out to them. We may not be able to help them, except by listening to them, but this may be the most important thing they need at the time. We have learned that even when we fail God, He still loves us and awaits us to turn back to Him in repentance, asking for Him to restore our relationship with Him for us. Finally, let me leave you with this thought. In any study of the minor prophets of the Old Testament, you will see that everything is great, crops are exceptional, commerce is working well, relationships are wonderful and tithing is exceptional. And then, they turned their backs on God and everything turned sour. Suffering abounds, yet when they turn back to God, all is restored. Did you notice the people had turned their backs on God, not turning away from us, and yet, when they turned back to Him, He was there waiting on us. So, how is your life going? Are you in His Word daily? If things are not going so well, do you think it might be time for us to turn back to Him???