Sermon Notes from our Pastors

 
 

The Season of Advent 2022

Second Sunday of Advent

Becoming God’s Peace-Maker

Matthew 3:1-12

 
We lit the first two Advent Candles – the first of joyful HOPE, the second proclaiming PEACE. After all
Isaiah prophesied that Jesus would be called the “Prince of Peace” (Is.9:6). And yet John the Baptist’s
message seems like anything but peace! There are warnings, fire, and judgement. Even the tone seems
harsh – “You brood of vipers” he called the religious onlookers, which in that culture and context wasn’t
just calling them poisonous but remorseless as well. But like many things in the Bible we are in danger of
misinterpreting the message because we misunderstand the messenger! It may not be obvious, but John
the Baptist’s greatest desire for Israel – like all the other prophets – was for God’s peace to be
experienced.

I. The Portrait of God’s Peace-maker (vs.3-6)
A. A simple lifestyle that was devoid of distractions
1. John lived in the wilderness intentionally waiting to hear the voice of God (Luke 3:2b). He
was brought up as a Nazrite (w/o wine or the cutting of hair), with a relationship with the
Holy Spirit right from the womb (Luke 1:15). But his life’s choice was to seek the face of God
and to listen to his voice (Deuteronomy 4:29; Proverbs 8:17; Jeremiah 29:13).

2. His clothing and food reflected a simplicity of choices that not only met his (very) basic
bodily needs, but also was a stark contrast to the lifestyles to everyone around him. I don’t
believe he was “judging” his contemporaries by his lifestyle, nor was he wanting others to
imitate him. But like all prophets his simple lifestyle forced people to rethink theirs by the
sheer contrast.

B. A clear identity that was informed by his calling
1. When “the Word of the Lord came to John” (Luke 3:2) he saw himself as that “voice” that
Isaiah spoke about (Isaiah 40:3). It was an identity formed by the message which began with
“Comfort my people, speak tenderly…” (Isaiah 40:1-2) – a message of love and tenderness.

2. Very similar to the prophets Hosea, Jeremiah, and Isaiah, John saw himself as a signpost,
pointing to someone bigger and better than himself – to a God of love.

3. His calling was only to prepare for God’s coming – that was finally happening. Only his
coming would usher in the peace that his people needed so badly
 
When someone is so focused on God, his awesomeness and love, nothing distracts them, there are no
power struggles, no egos to be pandered to. They are able to see clearly what is lacking in them and
around them. But they are also able to truly enjoy what they do have in terms of the blessing and
presence of God – which are the core ingredients of God’s peace.

II. The Proclamation of God’s Peace-maker (vs.1-2, 7-12)
A. A call to reorient our life’s direction and priority
1. “Repent” means turning; turning away/from + turning to

2. This reorienting of oneself can happen only when there is something worthy to give your
allegiance to. For John, and after him Jesus, that “something worthy” was the Kingdom of
heaven/God in the person of Jesus himself (for whom John was preparing the way)

3. Only turning away from ourselves and our past and turning to Jesus can bring God’s peace
and his fruitfulness.

4. The alternative brings disaster (judgement), which every prophet proclaimed not because
they wanted it for people, but because by knowing the alternative they would seriously
consider the offer of the “something worthy.”
 
B. An urgency of the alternative’s consequences
1. There is the reality of God’s holiness that no one should take for granted

2. While the offer of God’s grace means blessing and peace to those who accept, those who do
not accept are in reality refusing the protection and providence of God that results in
judgement. And while we don’t usually want to talk much about it, a heart full of God, like
John and the prophets, saw the reality of the consequence of refusal
 
When one knows the reality and beauty of God’s grace through the experience of its blessing and peace,
they become passionate ambassadors for it. John the Baptist didn’t know the fullness of this grace of
God as is manifested by what Jesus did through the Cross – his death and resurrection. Would his
message have been more tender if he did? Even though he couldn’t see the full gospel story, he lived and
proclaimed what he did know, in love and obedience to the God who loved him, and because of the
passion that God had filled him with – a passion to prepare for the coming of the Prince of Peace.
 

So what? How does this affect my/your life?

1. How can I reorient my lifestyle so that I am not distracted and distracting to what is truly worthy Jesus?
2. How is my identity as God’s “peace-maker” or reconciler formed his calling through his Word?
3. In what ways can you call people to “repent,” to reorient their lives to Jesus, knowing that only he
can give the peace that people desire so much? How can you do this in love (and avoid being
judgmental)?