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It's Not About Me... Or You!

December 14th 2014 by Joel Schultz

Today is the third Sunday of Advent. In the Gospel reading from John, we hear that the role of John the Baptizer was to point to Jesus. That is our role as well. Read or listen to find out more....

Advent 3B – John 1:6-8; 19-28 – “It’s Not About Me...Or You!” – 12/14/14 There were two women who had met for morning coffee. The one was monopolizing the conversation talking about herself and everything that was going on in her life. When she finally took a breather, she said, “Well enough of me talking about myself. Why don’t you talk about me for a little while.”

What a great illustration of our sinful nature. It is so easy to fall into a life that becomes all about me. It is the natural leaning of our sinful nature and our world encourages it at every turn. We are taught at an early age to look out for number one – to be the center of my little universe – to teach you that I should also be the center of your universe. “Have it your way. Do what feels right to you. Truth is whatever you say it is.” – are all slogans born in the sinful heart and taught by our sinful world.

These inclinations have even invaded the church. Festival like Christmas always run the risk of being more about presents, parties, and vacation (as fine as those things are) than the One on which it truly centers. Worship is far too often about what I like and want and perceive that I need than the One on which it truly centers. I even know instances where the personality of the pastor matters more than what is taught and proclaimed.

We all need to be on constant guard duty against a self-absorbed, self-centered, “my way or the highway” approach to the life to which God has called us.

But nothing could be further from the spirit of John the Baptist. John was the forerunner of Christ, not the Christ. He was only a witness to the light and did¬n’t try to eclipse the light. He was a voice, preach¬ing and pointing to Christ, the light of the world, saying, ‘there He is, the One you’ve been waiting for.’ “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (vs 29).

Ancient Christian art almost always depicts John with an outstretched finger...pointing. John was sent from God to give testimony. He didn’t venture out from the wilderness on his own initiative. Even before he was conceived, his send¬ing was already a done deal. “He will go on before the Lord,” said the angel Gabriel to Zechariah, “in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous--to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” (Lk 1:17).

John was sent from God to give testimony to what he had seen and heard from the Lord. His testimony is so that others will believe through him. John was an instrument. John’s witness was not so that people would believe in John, but that through John all people would believe in Christ. His message was not “follow me,” but “follow Him.”

But the religious leaders had it all confused. The leaders came out to John and focused on the messenger. “Are you the Christ?” they asked. “‘I am not the Christ.’ They asked him, ‘Then who are you? Are you Elijah?’ He said, ‘I am not.’ ‘Are you the Prophet?’ He answered, ‘No.’ Finally they said, ‘Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. WHAT DO YOU SAY ABOUT YOURSELF?’” (Jn 1:20-22). They had confused the message with the messenger. They were focused on John rather than the One to which John was pointing. He wanted to talk about Jesus, not himself.

John wasn’t sent to talk about himself, to deliver stirring personal testimonials, or to win a huge following. He was sent to prepare a people for the Lord by preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. His person and person¬ality were completely covered and overshadowed by the person of Jesus. John says, “Don’t look to me because I’m not the Christ. I’m not Elijah. I’m not the Prophet. I’m nothing but a voice ringing in your ears, telling you that now is the time to repent and be baptized because the Lord is near.” John is nothing; Jesus is everything.

And look at what that One has come to do! He didn’t come among us to be served, but He came among us in order to serve us! The water of Baptism flows at His authorization, and what it grants is nothing less than washing clean of sins—freeing us from both sin’s guilt and sin’s power over our lives. He stoops to serve us!

John was content to be nothing but a voice announcing the coming of that One who serves us all by being the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Being that voice defined John’s whole life. He didn’t want to talk about himself, because he was sent to talk about the greater One who’s among us and whose sandals we’re not worthy to untie, but who comes to be our Savior. In that, John points all pastors and all Christians to what they are always to be talking about.

In the Church, the talk isn’t about us. It’s always about the one whose sandals we are not worthy to untie. It’s about the One who’s infinitely greater than we, because He was before us all, for we are surely, each one, the work of His hands, even as we are also, each one, the creatures of His own redeeming. He came among us as one of us precisely so that He could serve all of us. He shouldered our sins as He carried His cross, and He died our death and shattered our hell, and by overcoming the sharpness of death He opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers. Truly, the Son of Man did not come among us to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as the ransom for many, indeed, for all.

So, “We do not preach ourselves,” wrote the apostle Paul to the Corinthians, “but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake” (2 Cor 4:5). So we point to Christ in all things that the Church does. Every sermon points to the cross. Every Bible class points to the cross. That’s why we don’t make personal testimonies which might point to the speaker, but rather, simply preach Christ crucified. In fact, Martin Luther once said that a preacher hasn’t preached a sermon if he did not point to the cross of Christ.

To point to Jesus...... that is the task of the church – of pastors and every Christian. We are that voice and that pointing finger in today’s wilderness of sin and distress and death – a voice to proclaim repentance and forgiveness in Jesus’ name – a finger pointing to Jesus. There’s the One for you. There is your forgiveness, your life, your salvation. There is true light, a light that already shines on you and on all. There He is in the water of your Baptism. There He is in the mouth of the preacher absolving your sin. There He is in the bread that is His body, in the wine that is His blood.

A little boy was eagerly trying to get a part in the school play. He was so excited that his parents were concerned that he would be disappointed if he did not get a part. So when he came home from school they quickly asked him what happened at the rehearsal. The boy was beaming. He told them joyfully that the teacher asked him to sit in the audience and clap and applaud loudly. That’s the role that John the Baptizer. That’s my role. That’s your role — to point to the main character and “applaud” loudly.

“Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” Your sin. He died bearing your sin. He rose holding your life in His life. He reigns and in Him you reign also. You are clothed with Christ, covered from head to toe with His righteousness. You are dead to the world, dead to sin, dead to death. And your life is safely hidden in Christ.

As God’s people, we all have the privilege of pointing to Jesus, of letting His light shine through us. We can’t help it because its not about us. Amen.

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